2021 HR Trends: New World of Work – Are You Keeping Up?

by Molly Barnes
January 7, 2021

A good way to get great work out of your employees is to ensure they’re operating at their full potential, and that often starts with a supportive human resource team. At the Wisconsin Family Business Center November Speaker Series, presenter Summer Rector from The QTI Group was joined by four HR directors from family businesses to share their top HR trends for the year ahead and how they’re getting creative during challenging times.

Understanding the New Landscape

Before you start making changes, it’s important to recognize that our lives dramatically changed in 2020, and as a result, how we do business changed. While attracting the right talent continues to be a challenge, health and safety measures, as well as diversifying organizations, are on top of everyone's minds. As many continue to work from home, keeping employees engaged is a significant challenge, as is keeping employees feeling valued and supported. So how can you adapt and move forward in this new world? Here are a few tips each of our guest speakers shared.

Reevaluating Rewards

Danielle Petta, director of human resources at Saris, explained the innovative ways they’ve helped their employees, who are working from home and on their production floor, feel valued and rewarded during 2020. At Saris, they let their employee pick the topic for their monthly finance lunch and learn webinars and attend fun virtual company gatherings. For their production floor workers, they send spot bonuses to show extra appreciation and give small weekly gifts like lunches, branded clothes and masks, and gift baskets. They ensure every employee is earning a living wage and, as an organization, they make it a priority to unify to help those who have fallen on hard times.

Diversity and Inclusion

Francis Bauer from ITU AbsorbTech explained how the organization is actively working together. They provide trainings, workshops, and companywide education opportunities, and Francis reminds everyone that this work is a journey and not a destination. They started a community partnership program with local schools to give student work opportunities to candidates who might not usually be considered. High school juniors rotate through various areas in the organization to get a feel for what they like while seniors focus on one area. They must interview, work hard, and acquire new skills, while ITU AbsorbTech employees get to teach and mentor the students.

Vision for the Future

Jeannie Cullen Schultz is the co-president of JP Cullen, a fifth-generation family business. She shared their tips for succession planning and management. Their family employment policy requires that family members must earn their employment, with focuses on education, experience, qualifications, and the family member cannot report to their parent. They formed a succession committee and now have a co-presidency, which has allowed for better management and growth opportunities throughout the organization.

Making Wellness a Priority

Everyone benefits when employers support their team’s well-being and mental health. Alicia Tollefson is the wellness coordinator at Hy Cite Enterprises, LLC, and she shared how they have demonstrated that employee care is a priority for the organization. They put in place a global wellness program to infuse wellness into the workplace with wellness rooms, a fitness center, and an employee garden. Any employee can share ideas and their families are encouraged to participate in events, too. With virtual work, they have focused on keeping everyone connected by hosting a virtual art fair, creating a global recipe book, and producing a weekly newsletter that is written in three languages. They also certified more than 30 mental health first aid responders who are trained to identify warning signs of mental health problems and provide initial help.

Our world has changed, and it’s time our businesses reflect the changes employees would like to see. Engaged employees are more likely to succeed so make sure your organization is supporting them in a multitude of ways. We hope these ideas spark creativity in the new year for your organization to attract, retain, and engage talent. You are welcome to join us online via Zoom for a future Speaker Series event. If you would like to attend as our guest, please contact Sherry Herwig at 608-441-7347 or email her at [email protected]