Employee Engagement Employee Recognition Organisational Culture

2021, COVID-19 and the future of work? A concise guide to a few top tips, trends and best practices

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Going into this year, we’re guessing most people are feeling a bit like a whoopie cushion after it’s been sat on a bunch of times at a particularly rowdy toddler birthday party.

However, as always, there is no rest for the wicked - it’s time to put on our collective big kid pants, face the future of work and get on with things.

Here’s some good news to start off the year: the COVID-19 pandemic may have ripped the rug from under us rather spectacularly, but it also created some very interesting shifts in the working world - stuff that counts in favour of employees. Yasssss!

Here’s a very concise breakdown of the future of work as we see it unfolding in 2021. We’re going to keep it short and sweet because we know you have actual work that needs doing once you’ve gleaned these nicely summarised insights. Here you go!

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.

The expanded gig economy

Gartner for HR did some really in-depth research and created this Future of Work Trends Post-COVID-19 report. One of their key takeouts is that up to 32% of organisations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. Straight off the bat this may seem like a scary statistic, but when you think about it, it also means that the gig economy is expanding, which is great for freelancers and consultants.

Additionally, the same report found that in certain organisations up to 48% of the workforce will continue to work remotely at least part time. This means that both employees and employers will have to work on their critical competencies in this regard, and collaborate to smooth the way for digital collaboration with dispersed teams.

READ MORE: South Africa and the future of remote working


Employee health and wellbeing remains top of mind

According to findings by ADP, there is a strong drive for employers to prioritise the needs of their employees and lay the groundwork for a safe and secure return to the office. This not only refers to the steps that need to be taken to facilitate social distancing and COVID-19 protocols, but also to support in terms of growing and adapting to rapidly changing working conditions.

READ MORE: How COVID-19 has impacted employee engagement and wellbeing in the workplace


Increased drivers for diversity

With expanded data collection comes additional insights into workplace demographics. Gartner found that there has been a 16% increase in the number of employers who are leveraging technology to check in with their teams in terms of productivity, engagement and overall wellness in order to form a better understanding of the employee experience.

An interesting spinoff of this process is that cultural and gender-based demographics are also coming into play. With data transparency comes accountability and there has been a great upswing in companies who are taking major steps to close the gaps in their workforce and create more diverse, inclusive teams.

READ MORE: 10 Ways to cultivate diversity and inclusion in the workplace


Engaging the Perennials

There has been a lot of talk of generational differences of late. We have dissected, discussed, measured and boxed in Millennials, Xennials, Gen X, Y, Z and the poor Baby Boomers until we were blue in the face, and guess what? In turns out that when you hire for cultural fit, there isn’t all that big of a difference between them at all.

According to findings by Deloitte, the multigenerational workforce have more things in common than differences that set them apart. This includes a need for meaningful work, ongoing learning opportunities, recognition and growth in their careers. Award-winning creative director and tech entrepreneur Gina Pell coined the term 'Perennials' to describe this ageless mindset.

Essentially we're looking at a diverse group of people of all ages, genders, colours and creeds who move beyond stereotypes to build connections with one another and the world around them. To engage these all-stars calls for going beyond group differences to focus on individual interests, values and aspirations.


Reimagining the employee experience

According to pulse surveys conducted by the O.C. Tanner Institute during the worst of the Covid-19 crisis, major companies experienced up to a 91% decline in eNPS, a 57% increase in disengagement and a 42% increase in tense workplace atmosphere. As such, it's no wonder that there is a call for a stronger focus on company culture and employee experience as businesses emerge from crisis.

As remote and dispersed teams become the norm, HR professionals need to encourage the creation of more touch points along the day-to-day employee journey. There has to be opportunities for engagement that stand in the place of quick coffees in the canteen and chats at the watercooler.

This is where an innovative SaaS-based employee reward and recognition platform with a built-in communication stack makes all the difference.

READ MORE: Retaining top talent with an eNPS - what you need to know


So, in short, the future of work is looking rather fascinating to say the least. Here’s to staying resilient, remaining positive and rolling with the punches - there are a lot of amazing things on the horizon, we just need to be ready to settle into a new groove to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Let’s do this!

Pssst, before you head off, remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for some great video content on everything from bridging common employee engagement barriers, to creating a communication strategy that suits the needs of your company.

Check out our YouTube channel for awesome videos on everything from the science of employee recognition to creating an internal communications strategy for enhanced engagement.


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