As per the World Economic Forum, the next five years will see nearly 85 million jobs being displaced. However, more than 80% of leaders digitized their work processes and deployed new technologies in 2020, preparing for the 'Future of Work.' (i)
At the core of every organization are the people who drive it and its transformations. True organizational transformations are driven through incremental but strategic changes that can fundamentally transform organizations’ structure, processes, systems, people, technology, and so much more. Often these transformations are catalyzed by external changes.
2021 ushered in a new phase of organizational transformations as companies came to terms with the new business realities of the market. The following is a list of the significant organizational transformations of 2021 handpicked by us that we believe will have a lasting impact on businesses for the next few years, if not decades.
Organizations have grappled through remote work, and as offices slowly start to open, new challenges have cropped up.
After a few months of going remote, many C-Suite executives realized that WFH (Work From Home) has benefits and made remote work permanent. According to a Global workplace analytics report, around 3.6% of the U.S. workforce was already working from home in 2018. This figure rose to 35% at its peak in May’20.(ii)
While some companies favor a WFH setup, several companies, including tech-majors like Google, TCS, amongst others, are keen on having their entire workforce back in the office. As a result, Google announced a 25% cut for those opting for WFH, while TCS expects the majority ofthe workforce to be back in the office in some form by 2022.
When the pandemic started showing signs of receding, many companies of India Inc. started following the hybrid model. A NASSCOM survey found that nearly 70% of organizations (iv) began to prefer a hybrid working model to save on cost and travel time. Hence, companies are nowexploring the right balance between remote and office work.
Digital transformations are now dictating how a company utilizes technology, processes, and people to provide value to customers. The digital transformation market is set to reach $3294 billion in 2025, growing at a CAGR of nearly 22.7% from 2019 to 2025. (v)
Most companies have conformed to at least a fewnorms of digital transformation and accepted it as part of daily life. From productivity to time management tools, organizations have become more digitally inclined to streamline their workflow and push digitization at mostlevels.
Communication channels such as Asana, Slack, Notion, nTask, and Beeminder have helped companies merge remote and hybrid working seamlessly.
Employee well-being has taken center stage during the pandemic where in a significant portion of the employees' resilience levels, confidence, and mental health got impacted. The core reason for this shift is uncertainty at professional and social levels and job losses that displaced a large section of the workforce globally. Nearly 114 million people lost their jobs in 2020. This had a domino effect on the emotional well-being of workers across the globe.
In 2021 many organizations began taking an active role in employee wellness and started formulating policies accordingly. Keeping mental and physical wellbeing as the backbone of employee welfare, organizations introduced critical health initiatives and encouraged employees to seek health support, counseling, guidance and become more vocal about their emotional wellness. Now wellness aspects have become a standard inclusion in employee benefits across levels.
2021 saw a rise in organizations hiring white-collar gig professionals to supplement their talent requirements. As per a report published by Upwork, nearly 24% of people decided to enter the gig economy in the summer of 2021, the highest compared to previous years (viii). Many companies that laid-off employees at the start of the pandemic later started hiring gig workers to fill the gap. Businesses started investing in quicker and less expensive but similar or better talent-resources by tapping solo white-collar gig workers. (ix) To accommodate gigworkers on a large scale, I.T. companies heavily invested in tools for freelance project management, invoice payments, document management, communications, expenses, and cloud infrastructure to manage the remote-hybrid-gig workforce. With the vanishing differences between employees and gig workers in a remote/hybrid setup, this trend is expected to continue in the future.
A term coined by U.S. academician Anthony Klotz, the great resignation refers to the trend of employees, mainly millennials and generation Z, resigning from corporate jobs and seeking alternate employment opportunities, including entrepreneurship. As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 (x). The trend was seen mainly amongst mid-career employees who put down their papers for several reasons, including skewed work-life balance, delay in transitioning to better roles, high workload, or burnout.
Harvard Business Review’s Ian Cook conducted an in-depth analysis of more than 9 million employee records from more than 4000 companies; the global data set included employees from a wide variety of industries, functions, and levels of experience, and it revealed two keys trends:
The study found that resignation rates were higher among employees who worked in fields that had experienced extreme increases in demand due to pandemic, likely leading to increased workloads and burnout.
Unlike the West, India did not see a vast 'great resignation' trend but noticed a 'great shuffle or switch.' Compared to a 41% global switch on average, 62% of India's workforce intended to switch jobs in 2021 (xii). The great resignation was primarily driven by people evaluating their career choices and moving towards a gig economy model. This trend of the workforce exerting its power and seeking new avenues is expected to continue.
2021 saw a rise in the number of people seeking coaches and mentors from within and outside the organization. Several organizations also started incorporating coaching and mentoring as part of employee engagement programs more actively than before.
Top 3 Mentoring Trends 2021
Mentoring programs are keeping the virtual workforce engaged, productive, & resilient.
Reverse diverse mentoring for inclusivity, allyship, and sponsorship.
Senior leadership considers mentoring critical for the future of work.
Mentoring programs kept the virtual workforce engaged, resilient, and productive through 2020, and the trend continued through 2021 as well. The role of reverse diverse mentoring programs, where junior team members enter into a "professional friendship" with seniors, exchange skills, knowledge, and understanding, grew by over 200% in 2020 and continued to expand through 2021 (xiii)
The central role of coaching and mentoring programs concentrated on realigning persona and organizational goals to enable a more robust workforce. While coaching and mentoring initiatives are not entirely new, in 2021, companies have started taking a strategic approach towards the same and implementing programs that address the mentoring needs of employees.
2021 was the year of multiple changes and disruptions in the tech space and general. However, organizations thrived despite challenges with systematic and structured shifts. Disruptions are needed to change how organizations function and prepare for the 'Future of Work.' The disruption created by the pandemic has given rise to strong transformational possibilities that organizations are now embracing. The ones that continue to do so have a better chance of succeeding in this increasingly dynamic world.