Deloitte 2021 Global Human Capital Trends

The social enterprise in a world disrupted: Leading the shift from survive to thrive

In today’s world of perpetual disruption, it’s time for organizations to shift their focus—from a survival mindset to a thrive mindset. It’s time for leaders to shift their strategies—from preparing for the known to preparing for the unknown. How can organizations transform their thinking and position themselves to thrive when they are focused on making the changes necessary to survive? It depends on an organization’s becoming—and remaining—distinctly human at its core.


The world has changed—and so has our approach to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends research. Our 2021 report focuses on understanding what characteristics can support organizations in their shift from survive to thrive by revisiting a subset of key trends from the 2020 research, as well critical strategies to help leaders prepare for—and thrive—in the face of future disruptions. Completed by more than 3,600 executives in 96 countries, this year’s report included responses from more than 1,200 C-suite executives and board members, in addition to other management functions. For the first time in the report’s 11-year history, business respondents (59%), including 233 CEOs, outnumbered HR executives (41%) in the survey—underscoring the growing importance of human capital in organizational decision-making.

2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends

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Diving deeper: Five workforce strategies to watch in 2021

In this chapter, we explore the journey from survive to thrive through the lens of five of our 2020 Global Human Capital Trends.

Designing work for well-being: The end of work/life balance As the lines between work and life blurred even further during COVID-19, leaders moved from prioritizing work-life balance to designing well-being into work—and life—itself. Organizations that integrate well-being into the design of work at the individual, team, and organizational level will build a sustainable future where workers can feel and perform at their best.

Beyond reskilling: Unleashing worker potential During COVID-19, leaders called upon workers to expand their roles to whatever needed to be done—and workers rose to the challenge. Worker agency and choice during
the pandemic showed that workers can fulfill their potential in ways that
leaders may never have known they could, positioning the organization to thrive
in the long term.

Superteams: Where work happens Organizations doubled down on teaming as a survival strategy during COVID-19. Leaders now have the opportunity to use what they learned to construct “superteams” that pair people with technology to reimagine work. By amplifying humans’ contributions to new and better outcomes, superteams can play an integral part in an organization’s ability to thrive.

Governing workforce strategies: Setting new directions for work and the workforce COVID-19 was a rude awakening to the fact that governing workforce strategies using metrics and measurements describing the workforce’s current state severely limits an organization’s ability to survive disruption, let alone thrive in it. Asking and answering different questions can help organizations meet constant change with the confidence that comes from thinking and looking ahead.

A memo to HR: Accelerating the shift to re-architecting work COVID-19 thrust HR to the forefront of organizations’ efforts to survive the crisis—and gained greater credibility in doing so. Now, HR has the opportunity to build on its newly enhanced position to shift its role from managing workers to re-architecting work, driving better outcomes that position organizations to thrive. 

Leading forward: Leading the shift from survive to thrive

Our 2020 report called on organizations to look at work and the workforce through three lenses—purpose, potential, and perspective—to transcend a perceived conflict between humans and technology. This year has shown that putting people at the heart of an organization’s decisions about work and the workforce enables leaders to better stay ahead of disruption. Now more than ever, purpose, potential, and perspective are essential to build an organization that can thrive in an unpredictable environment with an unknown future.


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