A new year is always a good time to reflect on where we’ve been and pave the way for a brighter future. As another variant pops up and we enter another year of the pandemic, it’s time to look at ways in which leaders can improve the health of their businesses and their employees. Many have deemed this an important year. Brene Brown has even called it the “great refresh.”
This new year is an opportunity for leaders to step up and address those faults. Here are some of the trends we’re seeing businesses embrace for employee betterment.
- Take health and wellness seriously
Remember the days of pushing through a sinus infection or going into the office with oncoming flu symptoms? Those days seem wildly irresponsible now. It isn’t just mental health support employees need. The pandemic has hit employee wellbeing from every angle: mental and emotional health, physical health, social health, and financial health.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), depression causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays annually and costs employers somewhere between $17 billion and $44 billion. That’s bad for your business and your people. COVID-19 has also left a significant number of working people with chronic illnesses and disabilities who will need additional support moving forward. It’s important that leaders familiarize themselves with and are prepared to address these new employee needs.
- Offer flexible options
A staggering number of women left the workforce over the last couple of years because of ongoing additional caretaking responsibilities. Options to work from home and more flexible schedules means employees are better able to take care of their needs outside of work, which often makes for healthier, happier, and less burned-out employees. Many companies are coming up with creative ways to meet both employee and business needs with flexible office options.
- Invest in employee development
By now we’ve all heard that the amount of women who have left or been pushed out of the workforce over these last years has set women’s progress in the workplace back decades. With automation and technology on the rise and the constant pivoting with the ongoing pandemic, employees are majorly concerned about keeping and advancing in their careers.
“Leaders can start by mapping out a learning and development program focused on learning new technologies and software, advancing job-specific knowledge and skills, and teaching effective management and leadership techniques, including power skills such as empathy, listening, problem-solving, and communication,” says Kerry Siggins for Entrepreneur.
- Address inequality
The last few years have also shown how much progress there is left to make when it comes to workplace equality. Race, gender, and ability have sparked necessary and overdue conversations about the shortcomings of many workplaces. Leaders have a unique opportunity to listen to employee concerns and create more equitable workplaces. Diverse workplaces make successful businesses and both attract and maintain top tier talent.
- Embrace change
If these years have shown us anything it’s how quickly our world can change. In March 2020, businesses and people had to pivot seemingly overnight. There are sure to be more surprises in the coming future, and it will be up to leaders to embrace change and act accordingly in order to stay afloat and keep their businesses and employees thriving.
Going back to “normal” isn’t really going to happen, at least not anytime soon, and the pandemic has laid bare what isn’t working for both employees and businesses. Leaders have a unique opportunity this year to make major, lasting changes, and we know you’ll step up to the plate!