Five Priorities for HR Leaders on the Way to Recovery
The future of the workplace remains uncertain, with business leaders facing unique hurdles heading into 2021. To help set the course, recent PwC reports reveal five key takeaways for Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) as businesses refine their recovery strategies and transition plans.
With polling data from thousands of U.S.-based employees and executives throughout 2020, the above graphic uncovers critical priorities to help HR leaders navigate 2021—from fostering workplace safety and well-being to implementing technology that promotes engagement.
Priority 1: Physical Safety, Comfort, Health & Performance
Employee anxiety is running high, with polls revealing that employees are concerned about getting sick—and the risk discourages them from returning to the workplace.
- 51% of employees fear getting sick from returning to the workplace
- 50% would like workplace safety measures established, to feel comfortable returning
- 45% would like safety and hygiene requirements implemented for customers
- 35% would like contact tracing to be used, with realtime notifications if a coworker is diagnosed with COVID-19
By implementing measures to keep employees healthy, employees may feel more confident as companies transition back into the workplace.
Priority 2: Supporting Mental Health & Wellness
Studies show that employees perform better when they have workplace flexibility—and they can thrive when leaders support their well-being. The importance of mental health and wellness at work has increased under the weight of the pandemic.
Polling found that:
- 36% of employees would like to see more humility, compassion, and empathic behaviors from their leadership
- 33% would like to to see corporate investment in wellbeing programs, which would make them more confident in their ability to do their job
- 72% would like to work remotely to some extent after the pandemic
- 84% of CHROs intend to increase support for wellbeing and mental health
Investing in mental health can pay dividends, with the World Health Organization reporting that for every dollar spent on mental health treatment, $4 is gained in productivity.
Priority 3: Enable Remote Work with the Right Tools & Training
As employees continue to work remotely, there’s a pressing need to upgrade technology and resources required to be productive, collaborative, and create.
- 55% of HR leaders were planning to implement hardware and equipment upgrades to help employees stay productive when working remotely
- 53% were planning for improved mobile experiences for applications and data, as well as security policies to support remote work
- Upwards of 36% of employees believed their organization was already very effective at collaboration and communication
With many organizations planning to incorporate some form of remote work into their long-term strategies, technology continues to be integral to support working remotely.
Priority 4: Maintain Organizational Culture for a Hybrid Workforce
Culture and engagement looked very different in the shifting landscape of 2020, and that will likely continue to evolve in 2021.
- 41% of CHROs worry about weakened work culture in the virtual world
- Nearly 50% have focused on employee productivity efforts on new virtual tools and training
- 80% are planning for new employee benefits
- 75% are planning for employee upskilling
While many remote employees report they may be more productive during the pandemic, CHROs should help confirm it’s sustainable in the long-term.
Priority 5: Leveraging Data Analytics
Studies show that better employee experiences can contribute to improved revenue growth, and PwC polls indicate that:
- 42% of CFOs are optimizing their approach to data analytics to improve revenue
- 35% are moving their applications and/or to the cloud
- 40% of workplace leaders are concerned about workplace safety
As executives experience concern over whether long-term remote work could impact engagement and productivity—focus has been placed on leveraging data analytics and digital assets to quantify and help inform corporate strategies.
Opportunities on the Road to Recovery
Even with COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon, uncertainty about the future of our work environments is high, posing unique challenges ahead for CHROs. However, those challenges can present strategic opportunities for work improvements—from digital assets and productivity, to mental health and well-being.
Note: All statistics are from the same PwC U.S. CFO Pulse survey unless otherwise stated. PwC surveyed 330 US CFOs and finance leaders between June 8-11, 2020. 88% percent of the respondents were from public and private companies in these top five sectors: health industries (9%), consumer markets (13%), financial services (23%), industrial products (23%), and technology, media and telecommunications (20%). Twenty-nine percent of respondents were from Fortune 1000 companies. The PwC CFO Pulse Survey is conducted on a periodic basis to track changing sentiment and priorities. Now in its sixth installment, the inaugural survey was conducted March 9-11, 2020.
Smashing Atoms: The History of Uranium and Nuclear Power
Nuclear power is among the world’s cleanest sources of energy, but how did uranium and nuclear power come to be?
The History of Uranium and Nuclear Power
Uranium has been around for millennia, but we only recently began to understand its unique properties.
Today, the radioactive metal fuels hundreds of nuclear reactors, enabling carbon-free energy generation across the globe. But how did uranium and nuclear power come to be?
The above infographic from the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust outlines the history of nuclear energy and highlights the role of uranium in producing clean energy.
From Discovery to Fission: Uncovering Uranium
Just like all matter, the history of uranium and nuclear energy can be traced back to the atom.
Martin Klaproth, a German chemist, first discovered uranium in 1789 by extracting it from a mineral called “pitchblende”. He named uranium after the then newly discovered planet, Uranus. But the history of nuclear power really began in 1895 when German engineer Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and radiation, kicking off a series of experiments and discoveries—including that of radioactivity.
In 1905, Albert Einstein set the stage for nuclear power with his famous theory relating mass and energy, E = mc2. Roughly 35 years later, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman confirmed his theory by firing neutrons into uranium atoms, which yielded elements lighter than uranium. According to Einstein’s theory, the mass lost during the reaction changed into energy. This demonstrated that fission—the splitting of one atom into lighter elements—had occurred.
“Nuclear energy is incomparably greater than the molecular energy which we use today.”
—Winston Churchill, 1955.
Following the discovery of fission, scientists worked to develop a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. In 1939, a team of French scientists led by Frédéric Joliot-Curie demonstrated that fission can cause a chain reaction and filed the first patent on nuclear reactors.
Later in 1942, a group of scientists led by Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard set off the first nuclear chain reaction through the Chicago Pile-1. Interestingly, they built this makeshift reactor using graphite bricks on an abandoned squash court in the University of Chicago.
These experiments proved that uranium could produce energy through fission. However, the first peaceful use of nuclear fission did not come until 1951, when Experimental Breeder Reactor I (EBR-1) in Idaho generated the first electricity sourced from nuclear power.
The Power of the Atom: Nuclear Power and Clean Energy
Nuclear reactors harness uranium’s properties to generate energy without any greenhouse gas emissions. While uranium’s radioactivity makes it unique, it has three other properties that stand out:
- Material Density: Uranium has a density of 19.1g/cm3, making it one of the densest metals on Earth. For reference, it is nearly as heavy (and dense) as gold.
- Abundance: At 2.8 parts per million, uranium is approximately 700 times more abundant than gold, and 37 times more abundant than silver.
- Energy Density: Uranium is extremely energy-dense. A one-inch tall uranium pellet contains the same amount of energy as 120 gallons of oil.
Thanks to its high energy density, the use of uranium fuel makes nuclear power more efficient than other energy sources. This includes renewables like wind and solar, which typically require much more land (and more units) to generate the same amount of electricity as a single nuclear reactor.
But nuclear power offers more than just a smaller land footprint. It’s also one of the cleanest and most reliable energy sources available today, poised to play a major role in the energy transition.
The Future of Uranium and Nuclear Power
Although nuclear power is often left out of the clean energy conversation, the ongoing energy crisis has brought it back into focus.
Several countries are going nuclear in a bid to reduce reliance on fossil fuels while building reliable energy grids. For example, nuclear power is expected to play a prominent role in the UK’s plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Furthermore, Japan recently approved restarts at three of its nuclear reactors after initially phasing out nuclear power following the Fukushima accident.
The resurgence of nuclear power, in addition to reactors that are already under construction, will likely lead to higher demand for uranium—especially as the world embraces clean energy.
Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining
Canadian gold mining has grown to become a highly prolific industry, thanks to its geological riches and political stability.
Showcasing the Strength of Canadian Gold Mining
Gold mining has long played an integral role in shaping Canada’s cities and its modern day economy. The gold mining infrastructure that was built alongside the country’s towns in the 19th century has grown to provide $21.6 billion worth of exports for Canada in 2020.
When combined with the country’s superb geology, Canada’s jurisdictional strengths make it one of the most prolific and secure locations in the world for mining companies to explore, develop, and produce gold.
This infographic sponsored by Clarity Gold dives into how Canada has grown into a nation built for gold mining. Both in how the country facilitates the production of gold, and how the gold mining industry supports Canada’s economy and local communities.
Canada’s Golden Geology and Production
Gold is scattered across the Canadian landscape in a variety of gold mining regions and districts, with the most prolific located between Ontario and Québec.
The 2 billion year-old Archean greenstone belt that arcs through the centre of the Canadian shield provides the foundation for the Abitibi gold belt, which has produced more than 190Moz of gold.
|Gold Mining District/Region||Provinces/Territories||Gold Produced (million troy ounces)|
|Abitibi Greenstone Belt||Ontario and Québec||>190Moz|
|Trans-Hudson Corridor||Saskatchewan and Manitoba||>40Moz|
|Golden Triangle||British Columbia||>5Moz|
Source: Resource World
The Trans-Hudson corridor in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has produced more than 40Moz of gold, while the Red Lake mining district of eastern Ontario and the Golden Triangle in British Columbia have delivered >30Moz and >5Moz respectively.
Last year, Canada’s top 10 mines produced 3.26 million ounces of gold combined, equating to more than $6 billion worth of the yellow precious metal.
|Mine||Province/Territory||Primary Owner/Operator||2020 Gold Production (thousand troy ounces)|
|Canadian Malartic||Québec||Yamana/Agnico Eagle||569Koz|
|Detour Lake||Ontario||Kirkland Lake||517Koz|
|LaRonde (incl. LZ5)||Québec||Agnico Eagle||350Koz|
|Rainy River||Ontario||New Gold||229Koz|
Ontario and Québec are the powerhouse provinces of Canadian gold production, hosting 30 mines between the two provinces.
A Nation Built for Gold Mining
Canada’s politically secure nature and established permitting process has resulted in five of the 10 largest gold mining companies having projects in Canada. Three Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan, Québec, and Newfoundland & Labrador) are among the world’s 10 most attractive mining investment jurisdictions according to the Fraser Institute’s 2020 survey of mining companies.
Beyond the legal and permitting strengths of the nation, Canada’s extensive network of capital markets has enabled the Canadian companies to dominate the world’s gold mining industry. With Agnico Eagle and Kirkland Lake’s upcoming merger, three of the world’s top five gold mining companies will be headquartered in Canada.
The Canadian equity markets are a key driver of the world’s gold exploration and development funding, with the TSX having raised $7.5 billion in mining equity capital in 2020. Gold still remains the major driver of these money flows, with gold mining companies making up more than half of Canada’s mining exploration budget.
How Gold Mining Gives Back to Canada
Ever since the first discoveries of gold across Canada in the 1800s, the development and production of gold mines has been the foundation for many towns and merchants across the nation.
Today, Canada’s mining industry directly employs more than 392,000 Canadians, with the sector offering the highest average annual industrial rate of pay in the country at $123,000. The industry is also proportionally the largest private sector employer of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
From the nation’s prolific gold deposits to its network of funding through robust public markets for mining equities, gold mining has grown into one of Canada’s most important strengths. The discovery, development, and production of the precious metal will remain an essential pillar of Canada’s economy.
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