2021 workplace trends
COVID-19 and other events from 2020 greatly impacted the workforce and now influence trends for 2021 and beyond. From flexible work schedules and work from home (WFH) stipends to virtual mental health support and increased diversity and inclusion efforts, the workforce is evolving and changing what the daily workplace looks like.
The most significant change was employees working remotely. According to a Gartner HR survey, 88 percent of companies encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the pandemic. The typical 9 to 5 workday was lost, employers extended deadlines and became flexible with hours to accommodate employees, especially those homeschooling and caring for their families. The shift to working from home brought some perks to many employees including WFH stipends for bills and WiFi along with office equipment such as monitors, laptops and desks. In a post-pandemic world, working remotely is still trending upward. A survey by “Buffer” claims that 99 percent of employees hope to continue working remotely even after their offices open up. Roughly 30 percent of the workforce will operate under a hybrid schedule by the end of 2021 and employees will have the opportunity to work in an office environment and enjoy the benefits of working from home, according to Global Workplace Analytics. With the continued shift to remote working, companies will have access to talent from all over, and location will no longer be a barrier. Using virtual interviews and onboarding programs, recruiters will be able to attract candidates from all over.
While the WFH environment has brought many positive changes, it did have some negative impacts. Employee burnout has been on the rise and according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s recent poll, over 45 percent of adults have experienced stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. Forty-four percent said mental health is their biggest wellness concern. With mental health concerns on the rise, many companies have started to provide mental health support and services to emphasize the importance of supporting their employee’s well-being. Companies have also started investing more time and effort into diversity and inclusion initiatives. A common practice used to promote diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace in 2021 has been Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups raise awareness and give employees the opportunity to express their feelings and share insights while educating each other. It is crucial now more than ever for the workforce to recognize and promote D&I in the workplace while supporting their employees.
Today’s workforce looks a lot different than it did at the beginning of 2020, but these changes have brought both positive and negative outcomes. While the workforce has adapted to these changes, the workplace continues to evolve. Company leaders need to take a proactive approach to embracing these changes to supporting and engaging employees while promoting a positive workplace.