At the end of 2020, our global employee experience team forecasted anticipated challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.
They also spoke to more than 11,800 participants - including 800 employees in the UK - as part of a global study to understand what matters to people most.
Based on these predictions and trends, we’ve distilled five big bets for 2021: aspects of employee experience we expect HR to double down on this year.
2020 saw renewed calls for social and racial justice that reignited organisations’ efforts for dismantling systemic bias along the employee journey. In 2021, HR will play a continued role in supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, uplifting employees from underrepresented groups, and building out robust DEI strategies.
A sense of belonging, a key component of inclusion, has been shown many times to have great outcomes for both employees and business. Fostering an inclusive workplace where diverse employees feel like they belong will help drive employee engagement at your organisation.
2. Optimising the candidate experience
Why is this information critical for HR in the year ahead? Due to the loss of talent in 2020, organisations will need to create on-ramps for those individuals who have left to rejoin. Whether through flexible work policies, part-time arrangements, or something else, HR is uniquely positioned to understand and facilitate the efforts that will support employees returning in a manner that works best for them. Plus, HR can help garner and articulate not only what prospective employees want, but how to meet those needs – from offer to onboarding and beyond.
3. Viewing performance through a 360-degree lens
Instead of a two-way conversation where the manager reviews an employee, 360-degree feedback widens the lens – reducing manager bias by supporting inclusive leadership behaviours and asking about leader effectiveness.
In the year ahead, HR will place greater emphasis on this more inclusive evaluation approach to better measure performance and effectiveness from a holistic perspective.
4. Partnering with IT to design and optimise the technology experience for employees – wherever they are working
More than ever, employees expect their technology experience – a combination of the devices, applications, infrastructure, and services offered by your organisation – to give them the digital dexterity they need to perform their daily work.
To ensure employees – whether they’re working remotely, in the office (or returning to the office), in the field, or a hybrid of these scenarios – are fully enabled with the tools they need to stay productive in the year(s) ahead, HR must partner with IT to design and improve the employee technology experience.
5. Listening to employees and taking action – with frequency and relevance
Agile pulse surveys – that is, shorter, more frequent, business-aligned surveys – give organisations the power to track areas that are core to their business, culture, and people strategy, while also allowing room to flex in emerging business and people needs.
Read more: What is an Employee Pulse Survey?
Thanks to pulse surveys, organisations were able to react quickly in a changing work environment and take prompt action during the pandemic. In 2021, organisations will double down on these agile listening approaches to tune into the evolving needs of its employee population. Some of the areas where we think employees will need support this year include readiness and safety to return to the office and well-being.