Top 10 Smarter With Gartner HR Articles in 2020

Top HR articles in 2020 focused on the “now” of managing COVID-19 and its effects and the future of work.

Smarter With Gartner articles on HR issues drew huge readership in 2020. We are happy that so many readers saw value in our insights, but that need was sadly driven by COVID-19 and its effects.

Concerns about employee safety and well-being topped the agenda for every organization in 2020, as did planning for the sudden need for remote employees. Soon, the focus expanded to include what the future of work would look like given all the changes. How much of the short-term response would become long-term strategy? We’re still working through that.

As we highlight our most-read articles from 2020, we note that many of these insights will continue to provide value long into 2021. As the pandemic endures, we urge you to revisit them all.

No. 1:  9 Future of Work Trends Post-COVID-19

This article was the most-read HR article, and the second-most read across all categories on Smarter With Gartner in 2020. It highlights large-scale shifts sparked or accelerated by the pandemic, how those shifts will continue to change how people work and how business gets done. While HR leaders will spearhead many of the specific responses, any business executive can benefit from exploring the issues — from trends in remote work to the need to revamp workflows for greater agility and resilience. Read it now and jump from there to an e-book laying out the trends and the response strategies.

No. 2:  10 Questions for an HR Pandemic Plan

Published nearly a month before the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, this article drew on HR research originally conducted in response to the SARS outbreak in 2003. The critical reminders: You can’t wait for a crisis to develop to start responding, and you need answers now to questions you will inevitably face — especially the concerns and questions voiced by employees. This article still has value today as organizations strategize on what their vaccination policies will be. Read it now.

No. 3:  With Coronavirus in Mind, Is Your Organization Ready for Remote Work?

Much of the world was still working “normally” at the end of February, but Gartner experts in Asia were already working with organizations to solve the puzzle of whether and who to send home to work. This article outlines for readers a simple way to think about which roles can be remote and offers key success factors for employees working remotely. Remote work isn’t going away anytime soon, if at all, so this remains helpful as you ensure you’re doing all you can to help remote employees be successful. Read it now.

No. 4:  9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

This article is on the same theme as the preceding one, but specifically outlines nine ways managers can use empathetic but — practical — actions to make sure employees remain productive and engaged when working remotely. As pandemic fatigue sets in, check out the tactics again. Take note, the first is: Be on the lookout for signs of distress in your employees. Read it now.

No. 5:  Gartner Top 3 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2020

The HR priorities for 2020 were identified in late 2019, when no one could have foreseen the events that would follow. But the top priority then was cited as building critical skills and competencies — and the pandemic only made this need more urgent. Read it now, as this article still offers useful insight on the challenges and opportunities of talent management during rapidly changing conditions. Also now available is our article on 2021 HR priorities, which confirms that critical skills remain the top priority but offers more pandemic-specific context. From there you can jump to an e-book for more info.

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No. 6:  9 Questions That Should Be in Every Employee Engagement Survey

We update this article regularly, because it’s an ongoing favorite. It does offer nine questions, but also points to more of our extensive coverage of engagement issues, which remain especially relevant today as organizations deal with stressed and often remotely located employees. Read it now.

No. 7:  7 Early Return-to-Workplace Lessons From Asia

By late-April, COVID-19 infection rates were beginning to flatten in Asia, and more employees were returning to the workplace. This article is now worth another look to remind us that, as was the case then, it’s critical to plan for multiple rounds of re-entry and re-exit over a protracted period — and to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Although COVID-19 vaccines are starting to appear, they are no panacea. Safety measures, flexibility and transparency remain critical to deciding whether, when and how employees return to the workplace. Read it now.

No. 8:  6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in the Next 10 Years

Gartner has studied the “future of work” for years, looking at how trends in business, society, demographics and technology change where, when, why and with whom work gets done. Times have changed a lot since this article was updated in 2019, but it’s startling how quickly many of these “future” trends are now becoming a reality. Read it now.

No. 9:  Return-to-Workplace Guide for HR Leaders

As noted, the pandemic hasn’t facilitated a wholesale return to the workplace, so this guide remains highly relevant. That’s especially true as organizations begin to craft their vaccination policies, but still face an extended period of uncertainty over the timeline for returning employees to the workplace. Read it now and jump to a guide to return-to-workplace decisions.

No. 10:  Lack of Skills Threatens Digital Transformation

It’s fitting that we should end this list with a forward-looking, strategic article. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, boards ranked digital/technology disruption as their top business priority for 2020. COVID-19 escalated digital initiatives into digital imperatives — creating urgent pressure on HR leaders to acquire digital skills despite rampant competition from a wide range of organizations (not just technology companies) and for a range of business roles (not just IT). Read it now and jump to an e-book on the post-COVID-19 realities of finding and acquiring digital talent.

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