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Have a happier New Year: our predictions for 2021

Lydia Watson

‘Out with the old, in with the new’ might not be the most apt phrase – with the pandemic ongoing, and Brexit coming into effect, it might feel disappointingly like more of the same. But there’s room for optimism in 2021. If nothing else, we’ve learnt a lot from the last 12 months.

As we kick off the year, let’s take a look at what we were all talking about in 2020 – and our predictions for what we’ll all be focusing on this year instead:

2021

2020: Remote working

A year ago, remote working was reserved for freelancers, contractors, and a smattering of employees in forward-thinking organisations who were allowed one day away from the office. But rolling lockdowns and social distancing constraints took it to the mainstream.

Cue months of discussion around the basic practicalities, the impact on different demographics, the challenge of maintaining some semblance of company culture, and the temptation of going permanently remote-first.

Thinking of the future of the workplace? We can help

In 2021? Hybrid working

This year, hybrid working is likely to be the hot topic. The gradual roll-out of vaccines, lessons learned about safe and socially distanced workspaces, and a host of other factors are likely to make organisations consider not what they have to do, but what they want to do.

With a vast proportion of former office workers favouring flexibility, scrapping remote working at the first opportunity is unlikely to be a popular choice. But offering a space for occasional team days, or sporadic in-person meetings, is likely to be a part of our future working practices.

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2020: Diversity & inclusion

Difficult conversations are usually the most important. That’s why, out of a turbulent year, it’s so important that issues of racism and inequality came to the fore. From the Black Lives Matter movement to broader discussions about institutionalised racism and inequality, the world stopped and recognised that these issues are as present as ever.

For organisations, that meant being aware of their part in the narrative. Were they practicing what they preached, were their leadership teams representative, were the actions they were taking to create more inclusive organisations working? It was a time for careful self-assessment.

In 2021? Keeping the conversation going

This is not a closed chapter. Leaders and managers still have a responsibility to embed inclusive practices into all they do – and that means continuing the conversation. Whatever measures were put in place in 2020, the biggest mistakes organisations could make is considering the problem solved.

Keeping lines of communication open means one thing: listening. Asking the right questions, and welcoming honest, possibly anonymous answers – without feeling defensive, or taking it personally. This problem is bigger than you, yes, but that doesn’t mean you’re absolved of responsibility.

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2020: Employee engagement

For businesses looking to create happier teams, and thus boost their productivity and performance, employee engagement is still the first port of call. With the concept dating back to the 1990s, the idea of encouraging your people to have a ‘positive connection’ to work is a worthy one.

It’s a solution we offer, and employee engagement surveys are something of a fine-tuned art to us now – and we’re all aware of its correlation to organisational performance. So it’s unsurprising the organisations continued to focus on it in 2020.

For businesses looking to create happier teams, and thus boost their productivity and performance, employee engagement is still the first port of call. With the concept dating back to the 1990s, the idea of encouraging your people to have a ‘positive connection’ to work is a worthy one.

In 2021? Organisational Fitness

We’ll be bold: we think 2021 is the year of Organisational Fitness. It’s a methodology focusing on 16 key topics that we’ve proven are performance indicators – linked to profits, growth, and NPS. It’s a way of giving your organisational an overall ‘scan’ to identify strong and weak points, and areas for improvement.

In these strange times – full of uncertainty and change – staying resilient is key, and our framework gives you the tools you need to achieve that.

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2020: Employee wellbeing

It’s not surprising that wellbeing was a hot topic last year. With serious concerns for our physical health, and the subsequent impact on our mental health, wellbeing really mattered – and the lack of visibility that remote working caused meant we needed to work harder at being caring.

2020 was a year that demanded self-care, and kindness to others – and in many ways that took precedence over almost anything else. As long as businesses were surviving, looking after your employees was key – and if you did that, they won’t forget it.

In 2021? Training & development

‘Getting through’ was a necessity in 2020. But everything else can only be put on hold for so long. In the coming year, your employees are likely to have a renewed sense of focus in their careers – as the ‘new normal’ becomes no longer new, training and development should be back on the table.

Get a clear direction for 2021 by listening

These are just our predictions for what people will be talking about this year. But if you want to understand your own people’s priorities, there’s a simple solution – ask them. Our platform can help by giving you the tool you need to really listen. Here’s how it works:

It’s time to start the conversation

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