HR lessons from 2021

HR lessons from 2021: High hopes and positive reflections

I’m a glass half full kind of person. So, like all optimists—and probably everyone else—I’m eager to put the negative aspects of 2021 in the rear-view mirror. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not downplaying the challenges. My team and I have coached small business owners through the most difficult period anyone of us can remember. The one-two punch of extreme employee and business challenges has been devastating at worst, disturbing at best. Dealing with hybrid work models, the Great Resignation and vaccination policies alone have tested our resiliency in 2021.

It certainly has been difficult to remain optimistic.

Still, there are silver linings.

We are about to turn the page on 2021. So, let’s look back through rose colored glasses and take stock of the positive lessons learned.

An end to complacency

Let’s face it, before the pandemic some small business owners were content with the status quo. Business was good, our models were successful and real innovation was on the wish list. The funny thing about having your back up against the wall is that it opens your eyes and your mind.
The pandemic forced us to prioritize what is most critical. It exposed infrastructure, personnel and process gaps and challenged us to be creative in closing them. Also, with networking severely curtailed and new business development very difficult, we learned to value current relationships more than ever before.

The rise of the employee-first culture

The rise of the employee-first culture

Great employee relations has always been the secret to talent retention, productivity and client satisfaction. In 2021, business owners experienced this first-hand. Enter the Great Resignation.
We learned that even the best benefits and pay alone are not enough. According to a recent survey of workers throughout the world, one of the top three strengths demonstrated by leaders during the pandemic was showing empathy and compassion. The others: prioritizing employee health and safety and embracing remote/hybrid working. (Source: Employee testing company PSI).

If you’re not listening to your people, if you’re not showing that you care about them as humans, they will find another employer who will. Period.

Technology equals opportunity

When the pandemic began, many small businesses rushed to adopt technology. There were equipment purchases to make, VPNs to establish and business functions to take to the cloud. Many executives did not have the time to fully exploit the potential of their digital investments.
In year two of the pandemic many learned how to utilize these tech tools, adopt policies and procedures and thoroughly train employees. Because of it, we are in a stronger position to optimize technology going into 2022.

One surprising revelation: technology has increased the talent pool for small businesses. Prior to COVID-19, it was common to believe you could only hire people within a reasonable commute to your workplace. Now we know there’s a world of talent waiting to be tapped. Leverage technology and find it!

Process makes perfect

Process makes perfect

In 2021, owners saw the importance of evaluating job functions. They asked questions like, “Is this person best at that?” “Can they learn to do this?” “Is the workload distributed appropriately?” And “Is there a better way?”

One of the toughest lessons was realizing how overwhelmed and overworked many workers were. Losing key people was a wakeup call.
The upside: when talent leaves it opens the opportunity to re-evaluate staffing levels. You might also invest in technology to handle parts of a job that are easily automated. Outsourcing is another solution.

Strategic partnerships make sense

The pandemic caused business owners to identify their priorities. The flip side is recognizing activities out of your scope, expertise or bandwidth. Think functions like finance, marketing, accounting, IT and HR.

Outsourcing can be a cost-effective approach to securing the highest level of expertise in a specific area without overhead. It can also alleviate concerns about turnover. It’s always frustrating when the promising professional who fit your salary budget walks out the door in a few months or a year.

Continuity is essential for productivity. In today’s tight job market, great strategic partnerships can keep you operating smoothly. They can also give you precious time to focus on your priorities.

When I look back on 2021, I say to myself “it’s been harrowing at times, but we are better employers because of it. So are our clients.” If you want to improve your HR and your operations into 2022 and beyond, NEMR Total HR might be just the strategic partner who can help you do it. Chat Live with us to learn more or Email Us.