#2 Ranked Priority
In the wake of last year’s tragic events underscoring continuing racial inequities in the U.S., it is understandable that HR and training functions recognize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Six in 10 respondents (61%) said that attention to DE&I issues, including overcoming bias, were compelling priorities for 2021.
Given executive actions already taken by the Biden administration, it is clear that diversity will be top of mind nationwide, likely impacting training mandates for business enterprises—in particular, those companies fulfilling or bidding on government contracts.
Moreover, many organizations made promises to employees, customers, and other stakeholders following the deaths of George Floyd and others. Turning those promises into tangible actions will require strong support from HR and L&D functions, and many of those efforts will begin with thoughtfully designed training and skilled facilitation.
#3 Ranked Priority
Rounding out the top three priorities for 2021 is greater emphasis on building a culture of respect, noted by 59% of HR and learning professionals.
Respectful workplace cultures are characterized by open communication; eradication of discrimination and harassment, elimination of bullying and incivility; and a pervasive understanding that every employee brings value and unique perspective to the organization.
Over the past year, the pandemic has brought out a greater emphasis on respect in many organizations: respect for employees, their needs, their mental health, and their work/life challenges (childcare, eldercare, financial well-being, and more).
In 2021 and beyond, companies will need to maintain and further evolve that heightened emphasis on respectful workplaces, whether work settings are actual or virtual. Employees have come to value and expect those new levels of consideration and compassion. For employers, that makes a culture of respect a vital component in attracting, engaging, and retaining key talent. And, by extension, a critical element in organizational performance.
Topics ranging from customer service to virtual team performance and the need to upskill and reskill employees will demand attention in 2021 as well. It is clear that HR and L&D functions will play leading roles in ensuring that their organizations, leaders, and workforces are well equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed as the work of defining and building a new normal moves forward.