WORKFORCE TRENDS

It Takes a Second to Say Goodbye to 2021

by placers on January 7, 2022 in Outside Insights

 

As we rang in the new year last week, we also waved goodbye to 2021. Under the sounds of cheering, fireworks, and the classic Auld Lang Syne – it was hard not to feel a little hesitation amongst the hope.

We’re two years into pandemic life and it’s easy to make a list of what we miss the most or to ponder what a return to “normal” will look like. Yes, 2021 threw a lot of curveballs, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t aspects worth celebrating.

During New Years Eve, I reflected and celebrated the progress we’ve collectively made in 2021 – at home and in the workplace.

Mental health discussions are now mainstream.
In 2021, the importance of mental health finally began to receive the attention it needed. Role models like athletes and entrepreneurs shared their stories and treatment plans. Leaders were called to lead with empathy and grace after realizing that many of their employees and families are experiencing challenges and fallout from pandemic times. Months of Zoom calls and work-from-home has illuminated that, under everything, we’re all just human and we’re all doing the best we can.

Workplace flexibility has gone mainstream.
I never thought I would see the day that companies would survey and employees would feel confident and secure in sharing that they want and need life flexibility. This is common sense. This has business merit. This is good for the environment- less commute time, less people on the road, smaller business footprints. And of course parents are seeing more of their kids. Being home for repairs, sick kids, and errands reduces stress and improves quality of life.

The economy and the year of the consumer
I never thought of myself as much of a logistics expert, yet 2021 seems to have made all of us act like it. Our economy has roared back to life. GDP, a measure of our economy, set records going back to post World War times. Why? We keep buying things. This is a double-edged sword. Do we really need all of the clothes, electronics and shoes that we buy? Lets face it, there is a good case to be made that by overbuying we broke the supply chain. But, the beauty of a simplified life is a topic for another article.

Communities came together.
2020 was a hard year. It replaced in-person gatherings with virtual connections that quickly left us feeling like we were missing a core part of the human experience. 2021 brought all of us back together. Life events as small as seeing our local Christmas parade and neighborhood light show created some much needed normalcy and holiday spirit. All across the country, communities have adapted, modified, masked up and carried on – together.

Technology makes it easier (and safer) than ever to connect.
The topic of workforce flexibility has triggered a tidal wave of new thinking- technology gains and human resources ideas, training and policies that put a focus on how to best work-from-home in a way that supports the important interpersonal aspect of work. My favorite tech tool of the year is Loom – asynchronous videos that are easy to shoot, edit, send, and track participants.

We’ve made strides in championing Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.
I had the pleasure of being a signatory with CEO Action Pledge, an organization run by PWC with participation from a growing number of Fortune 100 companies and this year many companies that employee 200 and up. The goal is awareness and education, and for me, becoming aware of the influence I can have on the topic and the culture I can shape by making DEI a business objective. There is still much work to be done, but we’re making strides.

What silver linings did 2021 bring to you and your family? Reply and let me know. For many, 2021 gave people the gumption to stop wasting time and go after what they want. If you’re currently working on identifying your goals for 2022, take some time to get reacquainted with yourself by clicking the link to read last year’s post and access the planning guide to ensure your goals are authentic.

Until next time, friends,

Chris


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