Every month, we’re highlighting stories, trends and tips related to employee engagement and workplace culture that organizations should be keeping top-of-mind in order to engage, retain and recruit top talent.

1. Taking a stand is now the expectation. We’ve discussed this topic before, but with protests about racial injustice happening worldwide, it’s even more expected now that organizations take a stand on major social issues. Companies like Amazon, Nike, Target, Ben & Jerry’s and many more have made public statements and commitments in support of racial equality. But it’s not just the public that expects this from brands – employees expect it from their employers, too. This Harvard Business Review article states, “research shows that how organizations respond to large-scale, diversity-related events that receive significant media attention can either help employees feel psychologically safe or contribute to racial identity threat and mistrust of institutions of authority.” Key takeaway: While companies can and should take a stand against racial inequality, they need to make sure their internal practices and values line up with what they’re saying externally. The HBR article mentioned above provides helpful insights on missteps to avoid and ways to take meaningful action.

2. The future of the office is up for debate. While many employees are eager to get back to the office, others are questioning whether being in an office is even necessary anymore. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to shift the way we work, leaning on digital communication and collaboration tools and showing, in many cases, that employees can be just as productive from home as in the office. And it’s not just employees – many companies are debating whether they need the same amount of office space moving forward. In a Deloitte survey of CFOs, 75% of respondents said they expect more of their workforce to work remotely in the future, and nearly half said they expect their business to reduce its real estate footprint. Key takeaway: Companies who do want their employees to return to the office need to be prepared to respond to those who may want to continue working from home indefinitely. They also need to be able to explain what they’re doing to create an office environment that will make employees feel safe, comfortable and supported. Here are some things to consider as part of the return-to-work process.

3. Employees still need time off. With most travel plans on hold, employees aren’t using as many PTO days as they normally would. And while it may seem counterintuitive to take time off when we’re all stuck at home, that’s exactly why it’s needed. For some, working from home has meant working even more hours during the day, since no time is lost commuting and everyone know you’re likely connected and reachable at any time during the day. Add in the stress of homeschooling or other family needs, plus the lack of social interactions and other things to look forward to, and those stress levels have probably reached an all-time high. Key takeaway: It’s hard to focus and produce quality work when you’re burnt out. Managers should encourage their employees to take the time they need to unplug and recharge – and they need to model that behavior by taking time off as well. Check out this article for a deeper dive on the benefits of taking time off right now.  

How is your company responding to these trends? Share your thoughts with us, and check back next month for more workplace tips and trends.