HR Management & Compliance

5 Tips to Ring in a Better New Year for Your Workplace

We can all agree 2020 was a dumpster fire difficult year for employees and employers alike. Now that we are freshly into 2021, it’s a good time to reexamine our workplaces and look for ways to make improvements for the business and our employees. Below are some tips for getting 2021 right.

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1. Check in with your employees. Now is the time to have the conversations with your employees about what went well in 2020, where there can be improvements, and what they need to be successful this year. This is also a good time to ask them for ideas on efficiencies that can be implemented (especially where telework is now occurring), how their job descriptions have changed over the last year (and whether the changes will be permanent), and how connected they feel to the workplace with social distancing or remote measures in place.

Employee engagement is now more important than ever if we’re going to keep our most valued workers.

2. Fix what is broken. No doubt, 2020 likely highlighted trouble areas or areas of vulnerability in your workplace. Whether the issues arose with equipment, processes, or personnel, use this year as a fresh start and an excuse to tackle the challenges.

3. Follow the law. No-brainer, right? The year 2020 brought many changes to state and federal paid leave laws to assist workers affected by COVID-19, and 2021 is likely be no different. Add a new president to the mix, and without question, there will be additional changes to our federal employment laws.

Commit to keeping up with the changes so you can be sure you’re complying with the law as you navigate all the other challenges of being a business owner in a pandemic.

4. Resolve to review your HR policies. I would be remiss as an employment lawyer not to include this important item. Every year, you should be doing this to ensure your policies are not only legally compliant but also still working for your workplace.

If you have policies you don’t use/enforce or have altered through your regular practice, get rid of or change them to reflect how you actually operate. Also, see tip No. 3—the law is ever-changing, and your policies should be revised as necessary to reflect the updates.

5. Celebrate the small victories. Don’t hesitate to tout your successes internally. Likewise, don’t be afraid to praise and encourage employees who are doing good work and going above and beyond to support your business. Studies show cultivating a positive workplace and focusing on what people do well, as opposed to what they do poorly, pay dividends.

Bottom Line

The beginning of the year is a good time for creating a fresh start for you and your employees. The tips above will help you leave 2020 in the past and grow in 2021.

Allison B. Williams is an Attorney with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia. You can reach her at