The uniqueness of 2021 as the year of tentative returns to newly-defined normals cannot be understated. While the modern workplace can be divided into a pre and post 2020 era, it must also be carefully examined through the lens of 2021's shift in attitudes and priorities.
Not only did it change the general outlook of professionals towards a full-time job, businesses too, confronted with back-to-back hits on revenue and attrition, have realised that it is near impossible to inspire the same employee loyalty and trust towards the brand as that of earlier. Today, one would be hard pressed to find a professional that plans to stay at the same organisation for years, let alone decades.
This situation has not gone unnoticed, and has in fact spurred several top executives into action. Across meetings and presentations and brainstorming sessions, organisations are hard at work trying to formulate strategies and propositions to not only attract, but firmly retain talent. Simple medical benefits are now accompanied by solutions for mental health, with wellness leaves becoming a rising trend around the world. The focus on diversity has been a long time coming. It need not have taken graphs and statistics for the working world to be convinced to work on creating spaces for women, and yet here we are. Better late than never, however. It seems like organisations have realised the value of manpower as far more than just one of the four Ms of management, and are now actively working towards improving their relationship with their employees.
On that note, the hybrid work environment adopted by several organisations during COVID is now being debated upon at length. While some organisations have no qualms in allowing employees to continue working from home, seeing sustainable results even with remote work, others are more insistent upon returning to offices, citing a missing human connection at the workplace. Both perspectives, that of businesses and employees, are fair and justified, and a solution in the common ground is entirely possible, as long as both goals, that of continued productivity and certain flexibility, are sufficiently met.
Up until very recently, ESOPs and any discussions thereof were either completely unheard of, or kept behind closed doors, only for a select few to know or partake in. Now, ESOPs are offered to new joiners, even interns, with hardly any experience. Such is the renewed interest in skills and capabilities that experience and qualifications often take the backseat as compared to a demonstrated ability to perform, and perform well. Industries as a whole seem to be shifting their focus on net outcomes and results, and the search for the talent to deliver the same has broadened its horizons to look past previous narrow walls. Anyone, from anywhere, can accomplish anything, and to see this ideology reflected in recent hiring patterns is reassuring and heart-warming in equal measure.
Organisations understand the consequences of having unhappy employees, and thus rectifying any and all such cases has become a priority. In turn, HR teams now go above and beyond to proactively ensure employee satisfaction, providing reassurance and clarity as and when required. Even outside HR, decentralisation of corporate functions is on the rise, making everything far more approachable and accessible for employees at the ground level. In this, the role of technology has to be highlighted. Queries can be answered, issues can be resolved, tickets can be raised and addressed, all at the employees’ fingertips, within minutes, with the help of good AI based platforms. These platforms automate tasks to an extent that they provide time and space for employees to focus on other key assignments. Investing in technology for the workplace pays off in more than one way, not only fast tracking the workflow itself, but also making the work experience smoother and more enjoyable for employees. And happy employees, as we already know, are the best employees to have.
The extra mile is no longer extra, and organisations are stepping up to provide just as much of a welcoming, efficient environment to employees as the employees are amping up to deliver results. It isn’t just the HR SPOC or the HR Head, but even CEOs and upper management teams are making themselves available to employees for dialogues and discussions. Regardless of grade, level, or band, all employees are given the same regard. Rather than calling it a trend, this recent focus on valuing employees at all levels should be considered the norm, going forward. The future remains as uncertain as ever, and having healthy organisation-employee relationships will pave a stable, efficient path to success for everyone.