Goodbye 2020: here’s what’s on the agenda for the new year

Megan Thompson · December 18, 2020

It’s been a tough year for businesses with many facing hardship and loss as a result of the pandemic. But we’ve also seen companies take great strides to give back to the community, put employee safety first and place a greater emphasis on the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

As we head towards Christmas with a vaccine on the horizon we wanted to consider what we’ve discovered this year, and what this means for the agenda in 2021.

Company culture and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves

We’ve seen some great (and not so great) responses from companies since Covid-19 first hit. From Wetherspoons’ CEO Tim Martin’s unsympathetic suggestion that his 40,000-people workforce get a job at Tesco to Havaianas’s temporary repurposing of their factories to help make protective equipment for healthcare professionals.

Goodbye 2020 social distancing face masks and remote working

Plenty of businesses have pulled together to ask what they can do to make things better for the community and for their workforce. With company culture no longer centred around office-based activities and perks, businesses have been forced to adapt and reimagine what it really means to work for them. This has had a hugely positive impact on company culture and has been a great source of motivation and trust for employees.

But one of the best things that companies have done to improve company culture this year has been to listen, talk and think more about their staff.

Simply understanding how employees feel about Covid-19 and how it has impacted them has gone a long way towards identifying where your company might be lacking. Encouraging ongoing conversations up and down the layers of the company will help to comprehend how colleagues see company culture. Lastly, thinking more about how instructions, encouragement, thanks and praise flow through the company is critical to improving company culture.

Above all, when returning in January think about what it is like to be there, and what can be changed to reduce stresses and frustrations, because they just waste human time and energy, sap morale and sour the culture.

Remote working

By and large the greatest challenge for managers and employees has been adapting to a new world of remoteworking. This has required a completely different skill set, which few managers had previously trained for.

remote working Christmas virtual party

Despite the challenges managers have faced, many employees have thrived since working from home. Prior to Covid-19 only 32% of British workers had ever worked remotely. But after the crisis is over 57% of UK employees hope to continue in the future.

This shift to permanent or hybrid remote working puts a new onus on businesses to ensure the safety of their workforce. The guidelines from HSE are clear: employees must receive the same level of health and safety and wellbeing support that they are legally entitled to in an office.

Therefore, it is critical that employers offering a hybrid approach to work design an effective people strategy that easily identifies the needs of employees. HSE has some great tips for carrying out an at-home risk assessment and WeThrive’s engagement surveys are ideal for identifying and resolving underlying wellbeing and performance issues.

Businesses have also seen benefits too. The reduction in overheads such as rent and utilities has provided a new opportunity for organisations to redirect their costs towards their people.

Mental health and wellbeing

It’s high time for wellbeing and mental health to be at the top of the corporate agenda. Covid-19 had shined a light on critical wellbeing issues that haven’t always been top priority for organisations.

Goodbye 2020 new year in 2021Sadly, we’ve seen an increase in stress, anxiety and depression as a result of Covid-19 and multiple lockdowns across the UK. 1 in 8 adults have developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during lockdown, according to ONS.

However, it’s been brilliant to see over 90% of UK CEOs have invested in wellbeing initiatives in 2020. Unfortunately, our Covid-19 working landscape survey showed that employees were not always feeling it’s impact. 

When putting wellbeing and mental health plans in place it is critical that you are targeting the right people, with the right solution. 

January is normally a difficult time of year for employees, with the third Monday of the year infamously dubbed “Blue Monday” and known as the most depressing time of the year. With a strange Christmas and New Years behind us, colder weather and a third lockdown on the cards employees’ mental health is likely to suffer when we return to work.

Stay one step ahead by running an engagement survey in January. Gain clear insights into your employees needs and build a people strategy that will quickly boost productivity, engagement and motivation throughout 2021.

About WeThrive

Employee Engagement, Evolved

WeThrive is the agile employee engagement platform that uncovers how your people truly feel, enabling managers to create highly effective teams, increase employee retention and employee wellbeing and deliver better business results.

Try the survey to learn more.