A new year is just around the corner, and many of us are yearning for a return to “normal.” But the fact is that the events that shaped 2020 are likely to have a lasting impact. Remote work is here to stay for many companies. Employees need different types of support to overcome personal and professional challenges. And a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace can bring about greater change in society as a whole.

As we look forward to the new year, now is the time to consider HR planning initiatives that will contribute to a stronger company culture now—and in the future.

1. Reevaluating your mission, vision, and values since COVID

A lot has changed since the pandemic began, so it’s a good idea to go back to the basics. Look back over your company mission, vision, and values to ensure they’re still being applied across your organization. Refocus your short term goals to align with your mission and vision, while adapting to current challenges and opportunities. Ensure core values are interwoven into everything you do so they can help you move in the direction you desire, and re-set expectations to get everyone on the same page. Keep these things in the forefront of your mind as you continue with 2021 HR planning, so you can ensure they shine through in every aspect of your company culture. 

2. Remote hiring and onboarding

Many of us were forced into remote hiring and onboarding without warning, and had to quickly adapt. As we look forward to 2021, planning better processes and programs can help them run smoother for your team, create a better experience for candidates and new hires, and build a stronger remote culture.

Take the time to consider how to adapt the in-person elements of your recruitment and onboarding processes to your virtual setting. For example, utilize video interviews to explain your company culture and share what it’s like to work at your company for candidates who can’t see it for themselves during an onsite. Use your employee onboarding process to forge virtual connections within new hire groups and with other employees. And always gather feedback to improve your processes and company culture over time. 

3. Retaining top talent

Employee retention is not a new challenge, but may become more difficult as the rapid adoption of remote work provides talent with more opportunities than ever before. Things like employee engagement surveys and stay interviews can give you the data you need to plan for stronger retention programs. Work alongside your company’s employees to build out the programs they want to see. For instance, you can build out a learning and development program to provide growth opportunities to employees—even if your company is not in a position to award raises or promotions. Investing in growth and development will show employees that they’re valued, and that they have a future at your company. 

4. Supporting employee well-being and development

The pandemic has brought about many hardships for people, including health issues, financial insecurity, anxiety, and depression. Make it a point to focus more on employee well-being and development in 2021. For example, train managers to ask, “How’s life?” to kick off meetings, and allow people to talk about personal things first. Help people feel safe being vulnerable by creating a culture of inclusivity, kindness, and understanding, and by showing that your company supports them entirely. 

5. Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are top of mind

A strong company culture will embrace people’s differences, while encouraging and enabling them to find similarities. Employees should feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work, and know that their unique experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds are valued and respected. But employees also want to make connections with others. Provide opportunities for connection, such as employee resources groups, interest groups on Slack, and cross-departmental coffee meetups (even if they’re virtual). 

Final thoughts on building a stronger company culture in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed the workplace as we once knew it. As we round the corner in 2021, it’s important to consider the changes we need to make in order to adapt our company culture to thrive. For some, that means more fully transitioning to remote work. For others, it means taking a hard look at the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion. At any rate, it’s important to be intentional about your company culture and drive the direction it’s heading to ensure it aligns with your company mission, vision, and values.


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