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6 Workplace Lessons from 2020 to Improve Company Culture in 2021

December 16, 2020


2020 brought more challenges than many of us could have ever imagined. Between COVID-19, civil unrest, and the shift to remote work and testing, many organizations have had to innovate, restructure, and tap into their learning agility and flexibility to keep their team’s wellness and engagement a priority.

Below are some lessons that our subject-matter experts have identified to take into 2021 so that you can re-emerge stronger. 

  1. Keep Your Top Performers Engaged by Identifying Your High-Potential Talent 
    This year you may have had to make some tough decisions in light of COVID-19. That may have included restructuring, reallocating work, and trying to create a sense of calm within your organization to ease tensions. Amidst the uncertainty, it’s critical to remember that the people you have on board could be your future leaders. As you move into 2021 and hopefully some greater sense of normalcy, ask yourself, is your company utilizing all employees to their highest potential? High-potential (HiPo) employees are 91% more valuable to a business than non-high potential workers. Make sure you identify who those people are and engage them so you don’t lose them when the hiring market ramps back up. 

  2. Get Serious About Diversity and Inclusion
    The topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been top of mind inside and outside of the workplace. In the wake of protests and civil unrest, a movement that was bubbling away at a steady pace has accelerated over the course of 2020. Making your organization more diverse and inclusive is a long, multi-faceted journey that will require concerted effort and resources; expending those efforts wisely, efficiently, and effectively is crucial. If you get it right, you can not only contribute to a better, fairer world, you can also give your organization a considerable competitive advantage.  

  3. Continue to Make Remote Work Easy for Your Employees 
    COVID-19 thrust many organizations into all-remote environments. For many, this was typical to what they were already used to, but for others, this was a marked change to their work day – not to mention that many employees are now tasked with juggling work, parenting, and schooling all in close quarters. Strong leadership is critical when navigating times of crisis, and PSI is always here to help as you lead your organization through these trying times and adapt to quickly changing workforce needs. It’s important to provide the needed resources to your employees to continue to work effectively in their remote environments as we move into 2021 because remote work is here to stay, and many of your employees may want to continue doing so in some capacity with recovery on the horizon.  

  4. Keep a Pulse on Future Predictors of Job Performance 
    In 2020, what makes a good employee and what makes a great one has had to be somewhat re-imaged. We already knew that Learning Agility, the capacity to learn from experience and apply that learning to new situations, is going to be critical in the future of work. COVID-19 has made that trend even more apparent – never have we, as a workforce, had to learn and adapt to new situations at such a pace. It doesn’t take more than a cursory read of the social, economic, and political landscape to know the world is likely to get more hectic, not less. Therefore, the learning agility we’ve all been applying during COVID-19 is going to be front and center (among some other traits) for successful performance moving forward.   

  5. Understand Your Team’s Response to Adversity to Promote Wellness 
    Across the globe, we are still at different stages in how we respond, manage, and - all being well - recover from COVID-19. There are four stages we transition through in coping with adversity, and it’s important to understand each one as you continue toward 2021 so you can provide the appropriate resources and support to employees who may be struggling. Make sure you continue the information sharing into 2021, as many employees may be slower to recover than others.  

  6. Understand the Importance of Culture Fit   
    “Culture” has been a workplace buzz word for over 15 years, conjuring up images of fun and dynamic workplaces with foosball tables and happy hours. Going deeper, it also summarizes the way people work together at an organization. Leaders are certainly in a position to influence how values-focused their work environments really are. As many organizations recover into 2021 and start hiring again, it’s important to not only assess and look for a job fit but to also ensure culture fit. Culture fit will be important moving into 2021 as you refine your remote culture, potentially move back into “office life,” and understand how to accommodate your employees looking to continue working in remote/hybrid way. 

2021 will be a year of recovery for many organizations, but that’s not to say it won’t come with its own challenges. Despite the uncertainty that remains before us, it’s safe to say that 2020 has taught us many lessons that we can carry with us into the future. So it’s important for leaders to stay flexible, keep teams engaged with their wellness at the forefront, and remain optimistic of what lies ahead. 

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