Our hopes and expectations for 2021 are admittedly low — it just needs to be better than 2020. But even with the slow rollout of vaccines, there is little to believe that the first part of the year will be any different. Even so, some trends have stood out to us for the year ahead.
Our research into this article reviewed the top culture trends for 2021. While we identified a range of issues, the following are the ones we think will matter most:
Accelerated by the onset of the pandemic, these major trends result from ongoing pressure for change. However, one thing is clear, we need to be intentional about the core of our business practices and services. People are burning out and having too many goals will only lead to more problems.
Therefore, succeeding in 2021 is a question of empowering your employees to act for themselves. Here’s how you can succeed.
While 2020 forced businesses to work remotely, the new frontier of flexible work will be when people work, rather than where. The pandemic exposed the fact that not everyone’s working situation is the same — with mothers taking a disproportionate share of the burden. Time is a precious commodity, and because of pandemic circumstances not everyone can work the same hours. Gartner’s 2020 ReImagine HR Employee Survey showed that only 36% of people performed well at organizations with the standard 40-hour week, while 55% succeeded at organizations with more flexible working time.
Developing flexibility is about developing efficient resilience. This could mean identifying new skills, promoting internal development or reaching out to contract works to fill specific gaps. It could also mean adopting a ‘sprint’ approach with regular reflection points to keep projects on track.
It’s the nightmare of an authoritarian state — constant surveillance and little privacy — but there certainly is a lure. After all, leaders need to make sure that their teams work consistently and push their projects forward. However, deceptively installing monitoring software won’t build trust.
It may seem strange that Friday Pulse will speak out against monitoring. After all, we’re a company that helps monitor how people feel and work with each other. But the key difference is that Friday Pulse asks people to actively participate with the purpose of helping them become better leaders and happier individuals. It’s a platform for open and responsive discussions for the development of leaders, not surveilling productivity.
In this light, we encourage companies to trust their employees. As one of the Five Ways to Happiness at Work, trusting and allowing employees to set their own working hours and have more personal freedom, enables them to do great work rather than just work.
Companies that will survive – and perhaps thrive – in 2021 will not only have to mitigate threats, but also seize opportunities. However, we often don’t identify when we’re overwhelmed or feeling burned out. This is where a positive employee experience that is sensitive to the needs of individuals works incredibly well.
One of the most common complaints we’ve heard about companies trying to improve their employee experience is that they have no idea if it’s working. Though more than 60% of US businesses offer a wellbeing program of some degree, few have clear definitions on wellbeing and ways to track it (if only there were a way to track that kind of improvement...).
What is the return on investment when you build a fitness centre, install a pool table or provide free snacks? Most organizations simply don’t know, and now that many of us are working from home these physical incentives seem even more off track.
Companies need to recognize that employee experience is more about “how” we work — how we can work well and live well. Relationships are an essential part of this experience. Collaboration, coordination and communication are all dependent on healthy and strong relationships. Sometimes it is about working less (a scary thought, we know) and spending more time with each — even remotely during lockdown. It’s about developing ‘pandemic soft-skills’ and how to better work with one another.
There isn’t a one-off solution to improving your company’s culture. You actively need to manage your employee experience. Friday Pulse is designed to help companies look at the strengths of their workplace culture, and identity and improve on any weaknesses.