By Jon Howard, Strategic Business Consultant
I’m confident that when we were thinking about 2020 during 2019 or earlier, none of us really expected it to be like this. And now that we are approaching the end of the year, you might be saying to yourself, “What in the world was that?” and perhaps, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.” I hear ya. But I think it is important to realize that everything we’re dealing with right now isn’t simply going to magically disappear on January 1st, 2021.
I believe that a big part of 2021 is going to be focused on transitions. Specifically, how we – as employees, employers and concerned individuals – transition from where we are right now to the new normal – however it may look. And how do we help the companies we work for, and consult to, do that?
To help us better manage transitions, it could be interesting to look at some current human experience management trends and how they will impact us right now during these unique times of COVID, as well as in the future. During this year’s SAP SuccessFactors Conference, these six trends were front and center. I think they deserve a deeper exploration and our attention.
- Buy, Build, Borrow, and Bots. Given the uncertainty in the economy and job market, organizations realize they need to be more strategic with their hiring plans. When planning work and forecasting staffing, organizations are asking the questions “Is this a position we need to hire from the outside (BUY)?” “Can we train and develop a current employee to do this role (BUILD)?” “Should we engage a freelancer when we need them (BORROW)?” There is one other question that organizations should start asking, “Is there a technology solution that could help us do this task better/faster/cheaper (BOTS)?”
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Organizations realize it is time to bring equity to the workplace. That’s great. It’s been a long time coming and long overdue. Now, the focus is on doing it. Candidates and employees expect to see visible signs that the organization is living up to their words, not just expressing some feel good platitudes. And organizations that haven’t made the pledge, well…candidates and employees want to know “Why not?”. Diversity, inclusion, and equity is more than a program being run by the human resources department. It should be part of human experience management in company culture and embraced at every level of the organization. It should be modeled, championed and communicated up and down the corporate structure.
- Resilience. I almost hesitate to bring up the word resilience because I don’t want it to become the buzzword du jour. But the concept is so important. The definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. If this year has taught us anything, it is that resilience is an essential, vital skill – for organizations and individuals. Organizations are realizing that they need to have strategies in place to manage the unexpected. Will we be able to cover every contingency? Probably not. But when COVID-19 hit, many organizations found themselves flatfooted without an emergency or business continuity plan. Shooting from the hip just won’t cut it.
- Remote Work. There’s an ongoing debate about the long-term impact of remote work on company culture (and that’s an entire conversation in itself). Bottom-line: remote work is very much a part of business and human experience management right now and will continue for the foreseeable future. Organizations and individuals need to figure out how to make it work well enough to get stuff done, not only from the standpoint of equipment and technology but being able to build positive virtual working relationships. Microsoft studied its newly remote employees and found that people were working an average of four more hours a week. A new night shift emerged in which employees would catch up on work, and the number of instant messages sent between 6 p.m. and midnight increased by 52%, suggesting this trend applied to entire teams.
- Self-Care. Over the past couple of years, the conversation about self-care has been increasing and 2020 put it into hyperdrive. While the title of this paragraph is self-care, we need to look at it from two perspectives. First, if we want to help others, we must know how to take care of ourselves. The second point adds to the conversation about resilience. As humans, we need to show empathy and transparency. Empathy for individuals who are open about their needs and transparency in terms of being open about our own.
- Self-Management. Think of self-management as personal accountability. Employees at every level need to know enough about themselves to understand how to be productive, solve their own problems, resolve their conflicts, manage their own learning, and navigate through changes. It is not easy. Managers have to change the way that they support employees. Organizations need to provide development for employees to successfully self-manage. But the result is greater productivity and results.
None of these trends should be a surprise. However, for us to be successful in 2021, we’re going to have to review these human experience management trends regularly and evaluate our progress toward goals. I can see organizations and individuals tweaking their goals more often next year than in previous years. Managers and employees are going to have to spend more time having one-on-ones to discuss performance. Everyone will need to be flexible and sensitive to external factors. Critical skills involve identifying, developing and retaining top talent to ensure future success.
Meanwhile, there is a significant gap between what leaders think is happening and what is actually taking place. According to salary.com, 69 percent of CEOs believe they are delivering a superior employee experience. But a Gallup study found that employee engagement remains at just 34 percent. This is a huge gap. Every day, they are happening across our organizations and we see the impact: low employee morale, poor collaboration, failure to innovate, employee attrition – each with devastating economic consequences.
We all know the ideal experience we want to give to employees. The question is why can’t we seem to get it right?
The key element unifying these trends together is human experience management (HXM). It’s about realizing that the organization is made up of humans. It’s about enabling your people and your client’s employees to play a leading role in designing, implementing, supporting and communicating your vision. The reality is that the human experience drives business results.
Here’s to a great transition in to 2021!
About the Author:
Jon Howard, MBA, SHRM-SCP, Strategic Business Consultant
eEmployers Solutions, Inc.
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Jon Howard, MBA, SHRM-SCP is an accomplished Human Capital Management professional with over 25 years’ experience as a strategic leader and change agent. In his work with eEmployers Solutions, Inc. he translates business vision into innovative initiatives and programs that improve performance. Jon specializes in uncovering growth and increased profitability opportunities for small businesses by shifting leadership’s focus away from administrative headaches and toward strategic, core activities.