The Year in Review - What Has 2020 Taught Us?
With just 11 days left in 2020, it’s a great time to take a step back and reflect on some business lessons we have learned. This year has brought crisis, rapid and frequent change, and boatloads of stress. Terms like “burnout, “new normal,” and “socially distant” are now part of our everyday speech. This year was truly unlike any other, and it’s worth taking stock of what we’ve learned to be better prepared for 2021.
Communication Got a Kickstart
With all the changes this year has brought, businesses have had to navigate them all as a collective. This means that more communication was seen between management and employees. The result? Higher employee engagement! Anne Maltese from Quantum Workplace explains, “the pandemic forced leaders to communicate more frequently, authentically, and transparently to inform, support, and inspire their people during a period of evolving uncertainty.” This new level of communication is a wonderful opportunity for employers to connect with their workforce and offer meaningful gratitude for their accomplishments. Keep up the communication, and your business is sure to benefit.
Remote Working Sky-Rocketed
While remote working had already been on the rise, 2020 kicked it into high gear. Now it looks as if remote working is here to stay, with in-person office visits reserved for group collaboration. Communicating with a newly remote workforce came with its challenges, but many businesses rose to the occasion by keeping communication lines open and providing their staff with the proper technology and training. The HR Director offers these great tips if your business is still struggling to communicate virtually:
- Implement a range of appropriate platforms, from project management to document sharing to communications. Ensure everyone has access to training if needed
- As a manager, set expectations but be ready to adjust them as everyone settles into remote working. Reduce ‘virtual distance’ by aligning individual and team objectives. List actions and track project progress transparently so everyone is accountable for team success
- Remember the telephone! Sometimes digital communications can be mis-read, unclear or more time-consuming than an actual conversation
- Host regular (perhaps daily) team ‘check-ins’ online to discuss tasks and encourage everyone to participate
- Use cloud-based software to ensure version control and transparency
- Make time for emotional connectivity via informal/fun activities, celebrating events or social chat channels
- Limit meeting invites so decisions can be made more efficiently
- Continue 1-2-1s and reward employees who meet KPIs
- Ensure employees can indicate when they are not working (e.g. via status settings) so their personal life isn’t impacted by working from home
- Where possible and safe, bring colleagues together in person periodically to facilitate more connectivity and bonding
- Be mindful that working from home can impact people’s mental health and well-being in different ways.
HR is The Star
HR departments have been crucial focal points throughout this year. They have worked in tandem with other departments to provide safe working conditions, roll out new policies, make sure employees have the proper home office equipment, and in many cases, work with brand new digital platforms. In addition, HR data tracking has become more important than ever. These metrics include which employees are working remotely, how much paid sick leave everyone has, who’s certified to handle critical responsibilities, and employees’ basic health information. HR departments have had to stay abreast of the latest government guidelines and legislation as the pandemic evolves. Even though a vaccine is on the way, the pandemic is far from over. Our advice is to continue to support, listen to, and thank your HR department in 2021.
We Evaluated Our Mental Health
2020 has been a year fraught with uncertainty. Between shutdowns, remote working, and a socially distanced landscape, many found time to pause and reflect on their mental health. A survey conducted by the CDC in June revealed that 41% of respondents were struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic. The term “burnout” became part of our vocabulary as people became overwhelmed and overworked. Going into 2021, any mental health support you can provide to your employees would go a long way. Silently suffering through depression and anxiety only makes things worse and should not be the norm.
Flexibility is Essential
Would you say your business “rolled with the punches” this year? The ability to swifty adapt and keep your company moving forward is now an essential skill. Across the globe businesses have come up with innovative solutions to safely operate, often tweaking them as necessary. The masterminds behind these solutions have become valuable assets to their companies. As we leave 2020 behind, keep your eyes and ears open for the problem-solvers. These are the folks that want to do the best job they can, and don’t mind changing “the way it’s always been done.” Make sure there’s a system for all staff to make suggestions and feel heard. By tapping into a range of different perspectives, your company can benefit from those out-of-the-box ideas.
By Aubrey Dion
Aubrey Dion is proud to be back working for the family business she grew up in. Over the years, she has performed a wide variety of jobs in both the office and factory, becoming a true "jack of all trades." Aubrey credits her quick learning ability to her strong theatre background, where memorization and attention to detail are vital. Working in the marketing department allows her to stay creative and work on exciting new projects for the company.