Re-ignite workforce investments to spur future gains


As employers strive to adapt and reset expectations for the future, the workplace continues to change in many ways. Regardless of the external factors impacting an organization, the workplace decisions and tools that leaders use to manage employee productivity, engagement and development will continue to shape a company’s employment brand.

Grant Thornton’s May By the Numbers pulse survey raised awareness around some of the fundamental issues that can ensure we thrive in the future of work. Our results identified several areas that employers can consider as they examine their human capital strategies and management practices for the future.



Your responses


Increased employer focus – With the amount of change that has occurred over the past 12 months, our pulse survey raises two topics that indicate an awareness of the impact that these changes have had on the workforce. When asked whether employers had increased, decreased or made no change in their level of focus on key aspects of the workplace, 62% of reported an increased focus on fostering work/life balance and 56% reported an increase in fostering company culture. On the other hand, nearly a third of participants reported a decreased level of focus on driving recognition or linking rewards to performance. If this trend continues, these areas may elevate risk to employers as we head into a period where retention risks are greatest.

Commitment -- It’s no surprise that for those participants that reported a perceived increase level of focus from their employer on issues related to fostering work/life balance, nearly 86% agreed with the statement “I am highly committed to the organization I work for.” At the same time, a perceived decreased focus on “driving recognition” had a negative impact on commitment. These results continue to reinforce the potential long-term residual effect of furloughs, pay reductions and reduced cash bonuses on engagement and employers’ future challenge to rationalize their compensation programs in an effective and engaging manner.




2021 opportunities


 It is crucial that organizations examine their employee retention strategies on a recurring basis and from a variety of perspectives for the foreseeable future.


  • Identify workplace stressors and rewards solutions. When organizations fail to identify workplace stressors or respond with good intentions but the same menu of reward-and-recognition programs, they risk loss of trust and lower levels of employee engagement. For 2021, employers need to review existing workforce programs and human capital governance processes to apply the lessons learned and the patterns that may have emerged from the later phases. These changes can help organize retention strategies around a new foundation.
  • Trade-offs and prioritization. In the face of uncertainty and limited resources, a one-size-fits-all strategy often doesn’t work. Employers will begin to address their critical workforce segments and key individual talent by differentiating recognition and rewards, as well as monitoring productivity. This can include more intentional job responsibilities that expand skills and expands an employer’s ability to build a more resilient workforce.
  • Employee listening. By making a shift to active listening, employers create the opportunity to achieve operational efficiencies, drive revenue growth, and strengthen brand and customer experience. These tools can have a powerful impact on engagement, especially top performers and critical workforce segments.

Employers have an obligation to reignite the level of trust and long-term performance orientation of their workforce. While planning and performance cycles have not yet returned to pre-COVID timeframes, by creating a new “north star” to reframe the future of work, companies can position their workforce for success and create a meaningful experience for those who can adapt for the future.





Tax professional standards statement

This content supports Grant Thornton LLP’s marketing of professional services and is not written tax advice directed at the particular facts and circumstances of any person. If you are interested in the topics presented herein, we encourage you to contact us or an independent tax professional to discuss their potential application to your particular situation. Nothing herein shall be construed as imposing a limitation on any person from disclosing the tax treatment or tax structure of any matter addressed herein. To the extent this content may be considered to contain written tax advice, any written advice contained in, forwarded with or attached to this content is not intended by Grant Thornton LLP to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

The information contained herein is general in nature and is based on authorities that are subject to change. It is not, and should not be construed as, accounting, legal or tax advice provided by Grant Thornton LLP to the reader. This material may not be applicable to, or suitable for, the reader’s specific circumstances or needs and may require consideration of tax and nontax factors not described herein. Contact Grant Thornton LLP or other tax professionals prior to taking any action based upon this information. Changes in tax laws or other factors could affect, on a prospective or retroactive basis, the information contained herein; Grant Thornton LLP assumes no obligation to inform the reader of any such changes. All references to “Section,” “Sec.,” or “§” refer to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.


More human capital bulletin