I don’t think companies should go “back to normal” after this
While 2020 is a year many would like to forget, it brought some significant, positive shifts in how people see things like online learning, working from home, and building more inclusive workplaces. One day, doors will re-open and people will return to work or find new jobs but I think that our future is best served if we can make the best of the things we’ve learned in the last year to reshape company culture for the better. As things go back to normal, here are three things we shouldn’t ever go back from:
We should still live up to our diversity, equity, and inclusion promises
2020 was a year of developing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs, and 2021 will be the year where company statements and expressions of support should also yield meaningful action and change. Many companies, mine included, engaged outside experts to begin or continue ongoing workplace training. Utah-based training organizations, like Mosaic Workplace and InclusionPro, saw record interest in corporate training sessions, and the trend continues this year.
But we need to keep these promises to lead to better recruitment for roles in our state. A recent Glassdoor study reports that 3 in 4 (76 percent) job seekers and employees say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. Continuing to engage and expand DEI programs will only grow in importance in the coming years.
We should keep embracing work-from-home and flexible schedules
Too often, how an employee’s individual manager feels about working from home directly impacts the entire team. This creates different policy interpretations from team to team and can cause resentment and frustration. We need to ensure our work-from-home policies are clear for all employee groups.
Flexible scedules, too are more important than ever if we’re going to address the workforce inequity issues caused by the pandemic. As more and more parents exit the workforce due to limited childcare resources, it’s clear that if job responsibilities can be completed with a flexible schedule, companies should work to offer those options while setting clear expectations.
John Knotwell, GM of Bridge, a Utah-based learning and performance management software organization, recently shared an experience with an employee who was working from home with a toddler due to daycare closures. “I realized that flexible schedules make sense for some roles and would alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress,” he says. “People matter most. Making this change has led to a more engaged, productive team.”
Utah has a long history of innovation. It’s time we all take the same approach to when and where we get work done as Knotwell and his team did.
We should recruit from virtual and online schools
Many people recognized the value of online learning for the first time last year. Now is the time for organizations that previously prioritized four-year degrees from brick-and-mortar universities to expand their hiring approach as more and more qualified candidates are coming from varied educational paths. Workforce readiness doesn’t start exclusively at universities. For many, it starts with the decision to enroll in an online training program or to learn a valuable trade.
When it comes to learning, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Outside of a four-year university degree, there are alternative education options like trade school or online career training that provide viable paths to meaningful employment. By being open to people who have taken the learning path that worked best for their life situation, companies can meet staffing needs by hiring from a broader talent pool.
Companies have an opportunity to embrace cultural changes that started as a reaction to the events of last year and turn them into a framework for future success. As we expand our ideas of what’s important and how we accomplish work, our employees and communities also change for the better, and that’s something we should all strive for.