The most difficult periods of the pandemic are likely behind us, and many organizations and HR leaders have reasons to feel proud. They orchestrated a huge pivot to remote and hybrid work, social distancing, and enhanced health and safety procedures. They also retooled recruiting and retention, managed a rapidly evolving workplace, advised and consoled fearful employees, and worked tirelessly to maintain connection and culture when the horizon was cloudy at best.

As always, most of the major changes in the workplace landed on the shoulders of HR. And just as predictably, HR professionals did everything they could to put their employees first.

But even if the worst is over, there’s still plenty of work ahead.

We hope the insights from this year’s Global Culture Report will fuel the momentum for stronger connection, belonging, and community in the future. As we interpret our research and draw conclusions, a few points stand out:

1. Leaders need support

We’ve consistently seen over the past few years how modern leaders develop teams and contribute to cultures that thrive. They weather the storms and nurture employees who are more inspired, engaged, and productive. Organizations with modern leaders will find it easier to achieve and sustain strong work communities. However, as this year’s study demonstrates, managers of all levels need support, connection, and appreciation to deliver modern leadership.

2. Work is evolving (even faster)

Ever since the Industrial Revolution ended nearly 200 years ago, numerous work standards have come and gone. Annual performance reviews, the 9-to-5 workday, and traditional leadership practices are all quickly becoming history, too. Advancing technologies have radically changed how and where work is done and show no sign of slowing. Organizations that cling to outdated work principles and models will continue to fall behind because success now depends on flexibility, employee autonomy, recognition, connection, and meaningful work.

3. The importance of belonging, acceptance, and inclusion

Employees all want to belong in their workplace communities. But helping people feel they are in the right place and truly necessary to their team is even more challenging in segmented environments where employees work virtually or in different offices. Inclusion and connection strategies must be thoughtful and purposeful. Generalists, for example, who’ve previously questioned their roles and worth, can find more belonging and acceptance if organizations give them the opportunities and support to shine.

4. Never underestimate appreciation

Personal compromises and complacency are waning as fulfillment is quickly becoming the new standard for employees. A large part of fulfillment is the belief that what you do serves a bigger, valuable purpose. Another is that you make a difference. And nothing establishes and reinforces those convictions better than the genuine appreciation found in well-executed employee recognition. Organizations should use and improve the recognition tools and programs they already have, start recognizing employees sooner (specifically, on day one), and create workplace cultures of appreciation by thoroughly integrating recognition. Symbolic awards that connect employees to their work and culture can also have a large, lasting impact.

So much of the change we see happening around the world is positive and exciting. And one of the most encouraging things we witnessed during the last year is the strength of HR professionals—both the depth of their resilience and their readiness to adapt.

We wish you every success as you equip yourselves with insights, find leaders to join you on your journey, and create a vibrant employee community and a workplace culture that thrives

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