2021 Workplace Trends: Equity, Belonging And Balance

Published: Friday, December 25, 2020 - 2:51pm

A new survey reveals how the employee experience changed in 2020 and what will drive employee engagement in 2021.

Utah-based Qualtrics surveyed nearly 12,00 full-time employees from 20 countries. Compared to 2019, a higher percentage of employees said they felt they had an opportunity to provide feedback. But only 7% said employers act on their input really well. Karen Stafford, Arizona President for Employers Council says doing nothing can be worse than not asking at all.   

“Because employees get excited, ‘Ooh, they asked!’ and they participate fully and then they don’t see any results and that dwindles morale and engagement and commitment,” she said.

Stafford said employers who cannot act on feedback should explain why and offer alternatives, if possible. And those that do take action need to make sure employees know.

“What I also know about good employers out there is they are taking action but they are failing to connect the two dots by saying, ‘You know what we started this program over here based on our feedback,’” she said. “Employers are compelled and encouraged to not only do something with the feedback when they do these listening activities or feedback opportunities, surveys if you will, thank your people for participating, let them know what you're going to do about it and then let them know what you’ve done in response. That recipe will buy you that engagement and commitment you're looking for.” 

More employees surveyed (70%) said they planned to stay at their jobs in 2021 with the highest responses coming from executives and top leaders. That doesn’t surprise Stafford.

“They’re part of the decision making, they feel very connected to, and probably the highest amount of ownership, just organizational ownership, ownership for results because they are in that decision making capacity,” she said.

In a statement, Jay Choi, executive vice president and general manager of EmployeeXM Qualtrics said, “Top engagement drivers have statistically shifted more this year than the past several years combined—surprising organizations with an increase in engagement and intent to stay during these challenging times. The organizations that are shifting to prioritize efforts in belonging, resilience, and well-being are seeing the biggest gains and are poised to thrive in 2021.”

The survey found two new items driving employee engagement: a sense of belonging and a sense of pride that the company is having a positive impact on the world. Those items directly relate to a top trend Qualtric lists for 2021: Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

Another trend is a sense of belonging. In its report, Qualtric says managers directly influence this feeling in their teams. The last trend listed is work-life balance. Qualtric says, “...we’re seeing that employees are more cognizant than ever of managing their own personal well-being. Companies that don’t enable employees to recharge or set boundaries, or even enable fulfilling work will lose out on talent.”