After a tough 2020, 2021 has started on a positive note. With the Covid vaccines rolling out across the globe, there is much to look forward to as the world anxiously awaits to get back to normal.We are still a while away but atleast there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As we progress onto new ways of working, most companies are looking at what the future of works looks like. The fundamental ways of working have shifted, and several key areas have come up which require thought leadership, critical thinking, and analysis. These areas in HR in my view require companies and leaders to come together and find a way that works best for them and their employees. There is no one size fits all and there are no right or wrong.

Performance Management

This is not an easy solution. Companies have always struggled to have an effective performance management system (PMS) but in this shifted world, how do we ensure that we have a framework that meets the needs of the business. The new thinking around PMS pivots on manager – employee relationships where managers are more coaches rather than directors. With employees working from home, managers need to be able to trust their teams to do the right thing, provide coaching, and treat them as capable adults. This also means not having one conversation per year. The new PMS needs to find balance between meeting business goals but ensuring employees feel satisfied with how their performance is evaluated. When companies say they have a pay for performance culture, often employees don’t feel the same way. In this new world, it is even more critical that employees feel supported and that they trust their managers and leaders to assess their performance keeping in mind the external dynamics at play.

Location Strategy / Permanent work from home

A lot of noise around companies making working from home permanent or allowing employees to work from anywhere. In my view, easier said than done. There is enough research to show how effective face time is. There are already reports of increased burnouts due to extensive working from home. The last thing you want is for your employees to lose the engagement and people skills by spending too much time behind a desk. This is not to say everyone needs to be back in the office again. Companies need to find the right balance that allows flexibility for their employees but brings them together as needed to spark the right levels of engagement and teamwork.

Working from anywhere sounds fantastic but at a global scale, managing tax, compliance, mobility, and governance challenges are not to be taken lightly. Every employee working from a new location means more administration for companies. I am all up for increased flexibility, but it needs to be balanced with the increase cost of administration and governance risks.

Integrated Reward Strategy 

We saw an amazing variety of approaches companies had to take to sustain business during the pandemic and continue to do so. Companies need to really think through an integrated reward strategy that balances the need of its employees but at the same time balances the cost to the business. Looking at organization structure costs, from shortand long-term incentives, ensuring you are paying top dollars for top talent, optimizing cost for benefits, providing spot-on wellness solutions, etc. Not only do companies struggle to do this, but most companies also don’t even have a reward strategy to begin with. Even worst when it doesn’t tie with the talent management framework. I strongly believe that having an integrated reward strategy has become non-negotiable whether to hire the best talent, ensuring career motivation and progression, or retaining them in the short and long term. A massively underutilized tool that companies and leaders have at their disposal but often overlooked.

Holistic Wellness

Job-losses, increase in domestic violence, higher suicide rates, constant risk of reduced pay. These are just some of the things we saw last year. We came to appreciate the true nature of emotional and financial needs of our employees; this along with increase needs to manage our families and communities. In this revised world of work, we need to continue to pay equal attention to emotional and financial needs and continue to provide solutions and provisions to alleviate the concerns employees have. While companies have done a fantastic job around emotional wellness, a lot is still desired around financial wellness. General sentiment from employees mirrors this and seems like they want support on these areas. Having financial worries is going to lead to emotional stress. That is why they need to be looked together and not in isolation.

Strategic Talent Acquisition

Most companies do recruitment, and they are good at it; very few companies do talent acquisition. In this talent hungry world of ours, where we are competing for talent at every step, especially in this new world of work, where fundamentals of talent sourcing have changed including the impact of technology, companies must invest in strategic talent acquisition. They must revamp/re-do the entire talent process, focusing not only talent but mapping them onto critical roles while looking at internal and external supply of talent. This along with using the tech to improve not only the quality of acquired talent but also using analytics and data to improve efficiency, reducing cost, and impacting the general talent management supply chain. With restrictions on face to face meetings, mobility, and working in the office, talent acquisition has even bigger role to play to ensure that they are doing the right thing. The cost of failure or poor talent sourcing has become a lot bigger.