Here are steps business leaders can take to make employees feel valued and supported in the new year and beyond:
Lead by example
In 2021, we made the growth and well-being of our people our No. 1 priority. This motivated them to invest more in delivering for customers and forced us to change for the better—adjusting benefits and time-off policies and creating ERGs to support the unique needs of working parents, BIPOC employees, young professionals and mental wellness.
Alleviate pressure on working parents
If you can eliminate one burden for employees, let it be child care. COVID has caused disruptions to school and daycare, forcing many parents to juggle work and home life and causing some, mostly women, to quit in order to keep up. Providing tangible financial relief—PMG provides an $800 monthly stipend to meet any expense—can help employees find solutions and free up headspace.
Make wellness a business imperative
At one time, if you offered a healthcare package and gym reimbursement, you had wellness covered. But wellness is no longer just physical well-being; it’s supporting people’s whole selves. Create a culture of belonging and inclusion that gives people safe spaces to find community and discuss their personal challenges. Give people extra PTO and designate “recharge” days off and “relief” days of no meetings, or host COVID-safe events such as drive-in movie nights, dog park happy hours, family days at the zoo and virtual events including mindfulness classes, painting classes and trivia nights.
Keep developing careers
When companies pull back or go on defense, they often demand more from their employees without nurturing their growth. Reinvent the onboarding process to reinstill the value of career planning, objectives and key results and manager communication. Adapt early career training to bridge the gap from university to the digital workforce and condense in-person training into shorter virtual training that limits Zoom fatigue. As we move back into a more hybrid model, don’t lose sight of the best practices that underpinned your business in the first place, and how to grow people along with it.
Remote work. Hybrid work. Return to office. New employee needs and expectations. This is new for everyone, and it’s important for managers and leaders to give themselves grace as well. Remaining open to feedback allows businesses to innovate, adjust and invest in areas that matter. Creating a repeatable and sustainable cadence for feedback builds accountability and trust in leadership, keeping teams engaged. By staying agile, actively listening, and being open to new ideas and ways of supporting employees, we can continue to navigate a challenging and evolving business environment.
Our people are the most important and best investment we can make as leaders, and by putting them first, our businesses—and our industry—have much to gain as we perpetually innovate toward the future.