This past year has continued to challenge employers with the pandemic still looming large and significant news events highlighting the continuing need for a focus on inclusion and allyship.
Here’s what we’ve learnt from the events of the last 12 months and how we plan to take those lessons into 2022:
- People-centred leaders
The pandemic required companies to be agile and make quick pivots in people management. Empathetic leaders, who are attuned to the needs of their employees, are our rising stars here and have risen to the challenge of successfully leading remote teams in turbulent times.
A primary learning has been that a one-size-fits-all approach to leading a team is no longer viable, especially with some employees being disproportionately affected by Covid restrictions than others – in particular, working parents and mothers who have borne the brunt of juggling work with child care and home schooling. Mental health support, as well as proactive listening to ensure teams feel valued and heard, have also been crucial and will continue to be so.
- Work-life balance
The pandemic’s lasting legacy has also seen a sharper focus on work-life balance with many job seekers prioritising companies with people-centred policies that better support their needs; for example, help for carers, fertility benefits and options for flexi-time. With a record number of vacancies currently available across all sectors, such policies are crucial for helping your company stand out in the crowded market place as we head into 2022.
- Investment in technology
With the shift away from physical offices to working from home or hybrid working, adapting workflows to a more digital age has been crucial in maintaining efficiency. This has included investing in tech, data, security and training to enable people to work confidently, communicate and collaborate, wherever they are.
- Authentic allyship
Significant news events have thrown a spotlight on the need for allyship and a stronger focus on ED&I strategy. In April, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, which sparked international protests and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It’s become clear that employees will no longer tolerate workplace inequity and discriminatory behaviour, such as exclusion or microaggressions. However, they will also no longer tolerate inauthenticity from their organisations – that is, those who demonstrate performative allyship, using movements to call for change but doing little groundwork to improve their own in-house ED&I.
- Tackling harassment
Another event to hit the headlines was the murder of Sarah Everard which threw a light on the harassment of women and had many considering how safe they feel in their homes and workplaces. Despite attempts by movements, such as #MeToo, studies show that a third of women have experienced sexual harassment at work and the majority feel that incidents have not decreased over the last five years. Therefore, supporting women in the workplace and giving them appropriate channels to report incidents of harassment, such as anonymous helplines, should remain a priority over the coming year.
Changes in the law are also impending. When parliamentary time allows, a mandatory duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment is due to be introduced. It’s important that leaders understand what’s to come and review their harassment policies so they’re in the best position possible to address the changes.
Tell Jane can help you prepare for the year to come. We can offer leaders bespoke training programmes to support businesses in adapting to agile working, improving their allyship, tackling harassment and reviewing their ED&I strategies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.