The end of the calendar year is always a good time to reflect and plan for the future. The past two years were uniquely challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, civic unrest, and significant increased turnover called “the great resignation”. Teams and leaders may feel like they have been constantly in response mode but setting goals and making plans can help restore a sense of balance and control, positioning organizations for success in 2022.
First, consider the status of your return-to-office program. Many organizations put this on hold in 2021, due to breakthrough COVID cases in those who were fully vaccinated and continued indoor mask requirements in many communities. How will the company proceed in 2022: fully remote, hybrid? Some teams will soon cross the two-year mark of “suddenly telecommuting”, so it may no longer be considered temporary, even if it may not last forever.
Leaders should take a transparent and inclusive approach to determining the organization’s next steps. Many will decide things are going so well that they adopt fully remote work policies. Others will feel the in-person work experience is a priority and will get back into offices as soon as the time is right. Wherever an organization lands on this topic, teams will need clear communication and time to adjust to the next phase of in-office or hybrid work. Taking the time to find out employees’ needs, preferences and feelings will help make any next phase more successful.
Beyond specific COVID-related policies, employers are seeking to build a strong and resilient organizational framework; one that supports employees as well as the bottom line. Of course, it’s always a good idea to update the Employee Handbook and look at compensation programs to remain competitive as an employer. Here are a few additional ideas to consider taking on in the new year:
- Test drive new technologies. Software solutions (HRIS, applicant tracking performance management) are constantly evolving to offer richer features and – in some cases – more competitive pricing.
- Review flexible schedule policies to support a variety of working styles and personal needs.
- Build in time for employees to pursue interests such as community volunteer work or participation in internal development or mentorship programs.
- Try out new business norms to reduce meeting fatigue (consider camera-free Fridays, scheduling meetings for 45 minutes instead of an hour, etc.).
- Enhance family-friendly time off and benefits to support those with caregiving responsibilities, including those caring for pets and aging parents.
- Document, streamline, and automate recurring business tasks to minimize risk of disruption in the event of turnover, and to set the stage for team members to take vacations and recharge.
- Encourage a sense of community, fun, and engagement through celebrations, employee resource groups, and wellness initiatives.
- Provide training and advancement opportunities to demonstrate a tangible investment in employees’ careers.
Create a roadmap for 2022, now! This will allow for a full year of progress, plus strong positioning to support and retain employees in the new year and beyond.