2021 Employee Experience Grati-do’s (and Don’ts)

November 23, 2021

It’s no secret to anyone (and especially not folks in our line of work!) that the world of work has shifted over the last two years. From a global pandemic to the looming Great Resignation to the increased awareness around the importance of diversity in the workplace, change has come and gone.

As we looked back over the last year, we wanted to take some time to share things we're grateful to be seeing emerge in the workplace––and things we're all too happy to see on their way out! So join our team on this time of reflection on our grati-do's and grati-don'ts:


One positive outcome of COVID has been an increased focus on mental health and overall wellbeing at work. I’m proud that Brilliant Ink has always encouraged our people to prioritize their mental health, and I’m happy to see this sentiment spread to even some of the most traditional workplaces.

Large corporations have had shut-down weeks to give all employees a break, senior leaders are beginning to model ways to avoid burnout, and in general, people seem more comfortable speaking up about their emotional needs. Silver lining! – Ann Melinger, CEO


With the emergence of the "Great Resignation", I'm thankful companies are waking up, looking into a mirror and figuring out what they need to do differently to retain and empower their people. Kick those pizza parties to the curb, my friends! It's time to show up for employees and treat them like the valued humans that they are. – Claire Stuart, Designer & Project Manager

✔️ GRATI-DO: RECOGNIZE productivity isn't one size fits all 💪

I am a firm believer that everyone works differently and a 9:00 am-5:00 pm, in-office work environment is not for everyone. While necessary at the beginning of the pandemic, I like that now, with the option to return to offices, companies are taking pause and recognizing that employees can be just as, if not more productive outside of the office. Many are working to find solutions that allow employees the freedom to work in a way that is productive for them.

I'm a night owl. I don't handle mornings well and sometimes find that I'm more productive in the evenings. Being able to work outside the confines of traditional working hours allows me to do work when I feel most productive, resulting in more thoughtful, strategic work product. – Sonia Segal-Smith, Senior Strategist

❌ GRATI-DON'T: dress for the job you want 💼

With the convergence of work and home life that has taken place through the pandemic, I am delighted to see corporate polish give way to showing up as you are. The dated “Dress for the job you want” lingo has been replaced with, “Go ahead and show up in your hoodie and messy bun - just be sure to bring your smarts,” and I’m loving it! – Patty Rivas, Vice President

✔️ GRATI-DO: TREAT DEI AS a MORAL imperative 🤝

It’s always tough when a national or global tragedy forces companies to address employee concerns around diversity, equity, and inclusion, because DEI is a moral imperative – and as any diverse employee will tell you, we’ve been living this experience for years! But I’m grateful that 2020 ushered in a reckoning, and that employees are feeling more empowered than ever to demand that DEI is a lived value in the companies they work for.

There’s still so much work to do, and there’s always this feeling that maybe we’ve lost momentum as the memory of the George Floyd protests fade into the distance, but I feel hopeful that we can build a more equitable future. There’s so much curiosity around DEI now, and this is a critical moment for employees (and employee advocates!) to demand more action. – Farida Habeeb, PH.D, Senior Strategist

❌ GRATI-DON'T: MAKE hollow statements 💩

I’m grateful to see the hollow statements companies once (and continue) to make being met by the rise of the employee activist. People are being courageous and rising up in the workplace to call bulls*** when their organizations aren’t living up to their professed values and demanding accountability like never before.

Gone are the days of just settling for “that’s the way we’ve always done things” or keeping silent when it comes to important responsibilities like DEI, community impact, environmental stewardship and beyond. This is an opportunity for leaders to think deeply and carefully about the power of their words, and more importantly, their actions day in, day out. – Gabriel Galdamez, Marketing Manager & Strategist


I’m glad that in-person conferences are no longer the only option available. I’ve had the good fortune of attending a bunch of virtual comms and analytics conferences this past year – all from the comfort of my own desk and in between meetings. It’s not only way more convenient, but valuable content has become much more accessible, too. – Becky Sennett, Senior Strategist & Research Lead


While I miss the connections, sidebar conversations and snacks that accompany in-person meetings, I have to say... I don't miss the Dance of the Conference Rooms. First, there's awkwardly hovering outside the door while the current occupants plead for one more minute to finish their meeting.

Now, everyone is late and two different groups are navigating the chaos - chairs in disarray, tangled power cords, office supply tug-of-war ("No - that's my dongle." "No, that dongle stays in Conference Room B, Jeff."), and snapping photos before the heartbreak of erasing the Einstein-level brilliance you had just sketched on the whiteboard. And, we're finally settled in, ready to go. Cue: Dance of the Audio/Visual Set Up. I'll take "Zoom Fatigue" any day! – Jackie Berg, Head of Research & Business Development

✔️ GRATI-DO: let TINY HUMANs make cameos 👶

As a working parent, I’m delighted that having real live humans running around your home has been normalized. We all remember the BBC interview where the kids snuck in the room and mayhem ensued. It was hilarious because up until that point, we were all pretending that we had everything covered -- acting like kids didn't affect our work or availability (or sanity). However, during the past two years, we’ve seen parents of all genders being upfront about the constraints, challenges and benefits of raising good people and good work at the same time. – Sara Forner Howland, Vice President


The challenges of working parents are not new, but the pandemic brought a heightened awareness as the spheres of work time and family time became increasingly muddled. The struggle to be both full-time parent and full-time employee (not to mention part-time teacher!) took a tremendous toll on the economic wellbeing, the general wellbeing and the career trajectories of countless women.

I’m grateful that we’re starting to talk about these issues, but awareness is just the first step. I would like to see more actions– a great start would be more workplaces allowing for part-time employees, the subsidizing of childcare and paid parental leave. – Anna Downing, People Operations Lead


I have an increased appreciation for the United States Postal Service. My grandmother passed away earlier this year. When she was alive, we sent letters to each other. The last letter I sent was for Mother’s Day signed by my 2.5-year-old son, Henry. I never heard from her after sending it, and when she passed a couple weeks later, I wondered if she ever read it. That was in May - fast forward to October - I received my daily digest email from the USPS with photos of all of the mail I was getting that day. In it was a picture of a letter addressed to Henry from my grandma. But then, the letter never arrived that day.

I went to the Post Office and was greeted by a very kind woman who encouraged me to give it a few more weeks. As I walked out of the Post Office she hollered, “make sure you come back and show me the letter once you finally get it!” Something about her confidence that I would eventually receive it gave me hope. Two weeks later, it arrived. Thanks, USPS, you made my year! – Lindsay McCleary, Head of Project Management

What are your grati-do's and grati-don'ts?

We encourage you to make time to reflect. You might be surprised by what comes to mind. For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest!

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