What does Employee Management in 2021 look like?

Post by
Karthick Sundar
What does Employee Management in 2021 look like?

While the world is battling Covid, organizations have to update their performance review systems to suit the need of the time. With employees working from home, organizations have had to reassess how they review their employees and better support their employees' needs.

The beginning of 2020 saw a transition from office culture to working from home, but 2021 will see the most significant change in work assessment and culture. HR leaders are reforming performance management and taking a giant leap towards understanding their employees and the importance of mental health at work.

Working in times of Covid has had repercussions on employee mental health due to the imbalance in work life. The primary hurdle in performance management for companies functioning during Covid has been reinventing review systems.

What changed during Covid for Employees?

Companies have made sweeping changes to leadership and have focused on managing competencies better. This period has been challenging on both ends of the spectrum - employees, and employers. The focus has been on building adaptive teams with a supportive environment where a culture of trust and openness thrives.

During Covid, the upper management has started to pay more attention to their employees' well-being and altered their structure to enable a positive work culture.

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What were some steps taken by companies during Covid?

  • Upskilling and reskilling help employees accelerate and take on new roles, changes in the workloads, and prepares them to deal with a changing environment.
  • They demonstrated compassionate leadership by becoming more aware of employee problems and encouraged their employees to lean on them during these rough times.
  • Focus on employee-to-employee relationships, even in remote work, to ensure continuous relationship building. Creativity flourishes when you have the space to bounce ideas in peer-recognized sessions.
  • Adopted a personalized approach to employee development and engagement and delivered constant coaching while also allowing employees to navigate their journey.
  • 96% of businesses globally launched improved HR policies and resources to support employees.

Mental Health and the Workforce

The pandemic has had its impact on both the personal and work life of employees around the world. A workday at the office meant commuting a distance to work, water-cooler banter, lunch with colleagues, brainstorming sessions with peers, and a manager who's valuable feedback and timely intervention made an ordeal look manageable. What looks like a typical day at work has been replaced by work from home where zoom calls happen over the background noise of dishes clanking, navigating technological changes, your job taking over your personal time, and conversations centered around the same thing every day.

Quite the contrast, isn't it?

While working from home allows employees to be closer to family, it also robs them of a work environment that positively impacts their productivity, career advancement, and employee engagement. This has an adverse effect on their mental health, leading to burnout, motivation to work, and inefficiency. Employers, in times like this, can be the shoulder that their employees can lean on. It's time that mental well-being is given its due importance, pandemic or not. Researchers at the University of South California highlighted that 75% of 100 participants had mental health issues that had emerged during the WFH phase.

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One thing that employers can take back while transitioning from WFH to the workplace will be to prioritize mental and take steps to encourage and create awareness among employees.

Some steps that employers can take to accommodate their employees are:

  • Increasing the number of frequent check-ins
  • Maintaining flexible work timings
  • Having a counselor on board
  • Psycho-educating employees about mental health
  • Encourage employees to be socially active
  • Encouraging employees to be vulnerable without fear of it interfering in their work

The second half of 2021 will see businesses returning to work. Major corporations like Google and Amazon are gearing up to have their employees back to work safely and are also testing flexible workweeks where they can work three days a week at the office and the other days can be remote work.

Companies focusing on reopening must be open to the idea of a hybrid work model and give it the time required to show results. While it may seem like the world is slowly returning to normal, companies must focus on continuing to develop new ways to help their employees bridge the gap between work from home and working at the office. Companies are going to have to be inclusive of diverse employee needs.

What are some performance management systems that worked remotely and can be adopted at the workspace?

  • Make goals agile and encourage employees to anticipate it
  • Keep an ongoing conversation with employees about their progress or shortcomings
  • Change the incentive structure to a performance goal-based approach
  • Encourage frequent peer and upwards feedback systems
  • Alternatives to show employee appreciation

America 2.0 or as Mark Cuban calls the future of America post-pandemic!

Post-Covid, companies will experience a new normal and cannot go back to older operations and managing the workspace. The company should have the ability to equip its team with physical resources and build resilient teams to take on future changes and help build back a better work culture.