Evolutionary change is not always slow or incremental. In fact, according to science, real change often occurs through dramatic leaps forward — sometimes sparked by external factors. When we look back on 2020 through the lens of total rewards, we’ll likely see it as an excellent example of how external factors can propel us unexpectedly forward in the workplace. It has been a year of punctuated equilibrium.
Before January 2020, companies in the US and beyond were focusing on a total rewards agenda that had been slowly evolving over the decades. Priorities included rethinking salary adjustments; developing a multi-stakeholder model for performance and incentives; an increasing focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG); evaluating skills as job currency; an emergence of pay transparency, and exploring the role of employee experience in defining total rewards.
Some months later, that agenda has shifted sharply. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 massively disrupted how we live. It has also challenged some fundamental assumptions about how, where, when, and even why we work.
This pandemic year has also brought a growing awareness to many of the systemic racism that still permeates society. As we collectively grapple with the violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others at the hands of police, companies have started to hold themselves more accountable on systemic issues of racial justice and equity in the workplace.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have therefore vaulted to the forefront for most companies — with a momentum driven by deep concerns about the effects of implicit and explicit racism, and the crisis of belonging and inclusion exacerbated by the pandemic. The employee experience is now in clear, direct conversation with a company’s DEI objectives.
While our new priorities for total rewards have roots in our pre-pandemic agenda, they have shifted, accelerated, and realigned to address the emerging needs of this altered world around us.
Here are five issues that are now leading company agendas in 2020 and that we expect to continue to lead the charge for the future of total rewards:
As we look to the future, these are all trends you can expect to see coming from the upheaval of 2020. What are you noticing that is changing in the wake of the pandemic and renewed social justice movements? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to us with your thoughts.