From Survive To Thrive

Human Capital Trends 2021

Post-Pandemic- Reimagining the future of work

Deloitte’s 11th annual Human Capital Trends reports measures the disruption of 2020 and looks to ‘leveraging these lessons’. Access the report here.

Thousands of business leaders and HR professionals around the world have participated in the 11th annual Human Capital Trends: The social enterprise in a world disrupted – Leading the shift from survive to thrive.

Amid unprecedented workforce disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations are enacting radically new ways of working and operating – and the C-suite is taking action to reimagine the future of work with human capital issues at the top of their agenda.

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise in a world disrupted”, examines how organizations and leaders can leverage the lessons of this pandemic to fundamentally reimagine work, shifting from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving.

The approach is new. The 2021 report is digging into some of the key trends from the 2020 report that have been at the forefront for organizational leaders as they have navigated unprecedented challenges related to work, the workforce, and the workplace. It discusses how organizations who survived the pandemic— and took the disruption as an opportunity to reimagine work itself— are the ones best positioned to thrive in the future.

These are the five trends that the report is digging into:

Designing Work For Well-Being: The End Of Work-Life Balance

The Trend: Organizations are taking well-being beyond work-life balance by starting to design well-being into work-and life-itself.

Surviving: Supporting well-being through programs adjacent to work.

Thriving: Integrating well-being into work through thoughtful work design.

Beyond Reskilling: Unleashing Worker Potential

The Trend: Organizations need a workforce development approach that considers both the dynamic nature of work and the equally dynamic potential of workers to reinvent themselves.

Surviving: Pushing training to workers from the top down, assuming the organization knows best what skills workers need.

Thriving: Empowering workers with agency and choice over what work they do, unleashing their potential by allowing them to apply their interests and passions to organizational needs.

Superteams: Where Work Happens

The Trend: COVID-19 has taught organizations that teams are even more important to thriving amid constant disruption than they might have thought before.

Surviving: Using technology as a tool to make teams more efficient.

Thriving: Integrating humans and technology into superteams that use their complementary capabilities to re-architect work in more human ways.

Governing Workforce Strategies: Setting New Directions For Work And The Workforce

The Trend: Organizations are looking for forward-facing insights about their workforce that can help them quickly pivot and set new directions in the face of uncertainty.

Surviving: Using metrics and measurements that describe the workforce’s current state.

Thriving: Accessing and acting on real-time workforce insights that can support better, faster decisions based on an understanding of what the workforce is capable of in the future.

A Memo To HR: Accelerating The Shift To Re-Architecting Work

COVID-19 has taught organizations that teams are even more important to thriving amid constant disruption than they might have thought before...

The Trend: Thanks to their handling of COVID-19’s challenges, HR organizations have earned the right to expand HR’s remit to re-architecting work throughout the enterprise.

Surviving: Having a functional mindset that focuses on optimizing and redesigning HR processes to manage the workforce.

Thriving: Embracing an enterprise mindset that prioritizes re-architecting work to capitalize on unique human strengths.

Excerpts from the Human Capital Trends report:

In 2020, COVID-19 forced organizations around the world to enact radically new ways of working and operating amid the pandemic’s human and economic impacts. Organizations had to respond to a sudden, unforeseen crisis whose rapidly changing nature confounded efforts to predict and plan for events. The pandemic brought into sharp relief the pitfalls of strategies that envision moving from point A to point B on a static path, and that assume that one has years, not months or weeks, in which to rethink outdated views and establish a new set of truths. As we all learned the hard way, in an environment that can shift from moment to moment, the paths and time frames to achieving one’s goals must shift as well.

Having a plan to deal with the unexpected, as important as it is, isn’t all organizations need in such an environment. Even more necessary is to make a fundamental mindset shift: from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving. In a world of perpetual disruption, a focus on surviving restricts one’s aspirations to accepting each new reality and working within it to accomplish what an organization has always done. A survival mindset views disruptions as point-intime crises to be addressed with the expectation that the organization will revert to “business as usual” once the crises are over. Organizations with a survival mindset aim to deal with the reality that the world imposes; it’s about doing what’s necessary to succeed today.

The pursuit of thriving, in contrast, orients organizations toward welcoming each new reality and using it to reimagine norms and assumptions in ways that were not possible before. A thrive mindset recognizes that disruption is continuous rather than episodic, and embraces disruption as a catalyst to drive the organization forward. Organizations with a thrive mindset aim to create new realities that they choose for themselves; it’s about doing what’s possible, not just to succeed today, but also to dominate tomorrow.

Preparedness Stems From A “Thrive” Mindset

In the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, we set out to understand what characteristics can support organizations in the shift from survive to thrive. We started our exploration by asking a paradoxical question: How can organizations position themselves to thrive when they are focused on making the changes necessary to survive?

To find out, we surveyed 6,000 professionals across every industry, sector, and region of the globe, with 99 countries participating. 3,630 of this year’s respondents were senior executives. And, for the first time in the survey’s 11 years, business executives outnumbered HR executives, underscoring the importance they placed on human capital issues in the COVID-19 crisis. We asked them about their experiences since the pandemic began, seeking to understand how the crisis affected the way they viewed organizational preparedness, the challenges and opportunities they expected to face in future disruptions, and their plans for approaching work transformation strategies moving forward.