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Editor’s Note: It’s Been a Year

By Debbie Bolla

March is definitely a month for reflection. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been one year since the coronavirus began its global spread, shutting down offices in the United States and changing the world of work in myriad ways. How did we get here and where we are going? A new study from Engage2Excel aptly named How Will 2021 Be Different? examines the top challenges and concerns of HR leaders in 2020 and what is anticipated for this year.

In a year like no other, businesses faced unique and unprecedented challenges in 2020, including:

  • ensuring employee and workplace safety (28%);
  • managing uncertainty (19%);
  • managing and engaging remote workers (18%); and
  • overcoming pandemic-related stress and anxiety (9%).

This year, priorities have pivoted—many driven by the aftershocks of the pandemic. They include:

  • encouraging more employee recognition (36%);
  • focusing on optimizing remote workers (31%);
  • seeking new ways to solve business problems (24%);
  • creating a more agile approach to hiring and retaining talent (22%); and
  • evaluating technology to better manage the employee experience (21%).

In our cover story, seven CHROs reflect on how COVID-19 spawned business transformation and share initiatives that are still having an impact today. Many are in agreement with Engage2Excel’s research, prioritizing programs around remote work and ones that solve business problems.

“We had 20% of our workforce working from home pre-pandemic and expect we will be at 50% or more for at least part of the week post-pandemic,” says Kristin Johnson, CHRO of Edward Jones. “We will continue to drive our decisions on the future of work based on the needs of our clients and associates and their wellbeing.”

Find out other approaches, including digital shifts and hybrid models, in Work Redefined.

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