2021: Onwards and upwards, my friends

I began last year with a post titled “Bring it, 2020, we are ready for you!”, and oh boy, didn’t 2020 bring it? I made some predictions on areas I thought we’d all get tired of hearing about before we did our mental closing of 2020, but Covid-19 certainly wasn’t one of them.

2020 was traumatic, unpredictable and in many ways, a devastating year for humankind. For those of us in HR, it presented many challenges and gave a constant heavy workload. On the flip side, it also provided a lot of valuable insights, time to reflect, important opportunities to try new tech, and do things that are important to all your people and the business.

At the end of any year I’d send a note to my team thanking them for their hard work, resilience and dedication. But this was not just any year. 2020 challenged us all in so many ways – personally, professionally, societally. I’m so, so proud of my team for doing exactly as I did back in January 2020 (in my bullish opening statement of “Bring it, 2020, we are ready for you!”), and looking 2020 straight in the face, with that hard work, resilience and dedication reaching epic heights.

As I reflect on the year and think about the year ahead of us now, I’m reminded of the countless moments of compassion and empathy that lifted us up and carried us through the tough times. It’s these moments of human connection that I hope we don’t take for granted in the year ahead. Here’s how we plan to keep moving onwards, and upwards:

  • Continuing our racial equity work – this work is a marathon not a sprint, and we will continue onwards with it, in the knowledge that actions are thousand times more important than words.

  • Focussing on Upskilling and Reskilling – growth is our a mantra in any year and this new normal requires different skills and competences, so we’ll continue to build out our learning and development offerings with this in mind, with a special focus on the combination of on the job learning and technology that can help Spotifiers build their skills profiles.

  • Mental Health – everyday is a mental health day and no matter what 2021 throws at us we know that this fact will not change. We will continue to strive towards removing stigmas around mental health issues, and raise awareness about, and celebrate the importance of, mental health support.

  • Learning from failures – to stay innovative we need to keep failing but more importantly, we need to continue to capture learnings from these failures (fail gloriously) by installing learning loops. This will be a big focus for our leaders in 2021.

  • Distributed workforces – even with a scenario where it’s safe to return to the office, we’ll continue to lean on our skills as behaviourists and reimagine the future with a distributed workforce. For example, we’ll continue to roll out Dynamic Workplaces, cracking the code of what a distributed workforce means for our people, instead of just stating it will be 3,2,2 (3 days from the office, 2 days from home and two days off) or another fixed and therefore inflexible approach.

As we enter 2021 and prepare ourselves for what is likely to be another difficult year, we mustn’t forget our positivity. After all, 2020 was a year when all eyes were on HR, and it revealed the importance of people-first culture, with genuine workforce management and creative workplace solutions. It presented us all with an opportunity for change, and although distressing on so many levels, it was also one of the most exciting times to be working within HR, because of those challenges and subsequent opportunities.

And dare I say it? Yes, I do. Bring on 2021!