Top 12 HR Trends to Look Out for in 2021

Top 12 HR Trends to Look Out for in 2021

2020 has been an eventful year. While the pandemic is still looming above us, it is impossible to deny the way it has left a mark on how we live and work. Rightly so, the implications will last longer and affect the future as well.

This year, businesses were forced to adapt and improvise in unprecedented ways. It has been particularly challenging for HR professionals as almost every aspect of the recruitment, and human resource management was turned upside down. All teams shifted to remote working, and performance reviews took place on video calls or Skype. Online team collaboration tools became much more essential than before. HR managers handled all this and more with grace and tenacity.

As we get ready to usher in 2021, HR teams will continue to remain crucial in the aspects of business growth and employee engagement. Here are some top HR trends for 2021 to help HR professionals brace themselves for the times ahead.

As we get ready to usher in 2021, HR teams will continue to remain crucial in the aspects of business growth and employee engagement. Click To Tweet

12 HR Trends to Look Out for in 2021

Let’s take a look at the most promising HR trends for 2021.

1. Remote Working

Earlier remote working seemed like a luxury that only a few companies offered. Most of the time, work-from-home options were only available once or twice a week. However, today, many companies have partly, and in many cases, decided to completely adopt a remote working model.

According to the World Economic Forum, 98% of people would prefer to work remotely for the rest of their careers. HR teams are drawing up remote work policies to tackle different work situations in a wide variety of industries. HR technology providers are also gearing up to tackle issues like performance management of virtual employees, accessing payroll information securely online, incorporating leave management functionality, etc.

Switching to remote working has also impacted the mindset of both employers and employees. An important trend that seems to be on the decline is that of ‘presenteeism’. Previously, many employees would stay on longer at work – well beyond office hours – to create a good impression. This approach is on its way out due to remote working.

Many companies will continue remote working at least till the time it is safe to re-open their office doors.

2. The Hybrid Workplace Model

The work cubicles, open floors, meeting rooms, and office buildings have been eerily silent for most of 2020. Things will change as we enter 2021 with the emergence of the Hybrid Workplace Model.

The Hybrid Workplace Model allows employees the flexibility to work both from the office and remotely. An employee does not need to remain restricted to a specific spot. He or she can choose to work from the home, a coworking space, or even a cafe as long as productivity and accountability are unhampered.

The Hybrid Workplace Model allows employees to cut down on both commuting time and cost. They can thus work better, and this has a direct, positive impact on the output of the organisation.

The hybrid working environment is one of the best ways for an organisation to cut down expenses, take care of staff well-being, and increase productivity. The unique Hybrid Workplace Model offers an unbeatable combination of structure and flexibility, and this trend is one to watch out for.

3. Virtual Onboarding Processes

Companies put the brakes on their hiring processes after the pandemic struck. But hiring and re-onboarding of employees have already begun. It looks like the start of 2021 will bring out some changes on that front with the creation of new jobs.

The onboarding process will go virtual, and companies will have to figure out a way ahead. HR teams will need to work out a way to onboard employees they haven’t met and who may not have met their colleagues either.

Here are some ways to help you make the most of the virtual onboarding process:

  • Set up separate onboarding templates for different types of employees. An organisation may hire different types of employees like executives, full-time employees, contractors, or even international hires. So, specific templates must be created for all types of hires.
  • HR teams must ensure all compliance needs are met and local regulatory requirements are fulfilled.
  • You can send an email to a prospective employee with instructions on how to create a new account with the software. The employee can fill out the required forms, supply the necessary documents, and e-sign wherever necessary.
  • HR teams must check-in regularly with the new hires to make them feel welcome and a part of the organisation.
  • Team members must also be encouraged to reach out to the new hires to get to know them personally.
  • HR teams must request feedback from new hires about the virtual onboarding process. Also, keep an eye on the satisfaction rates, so the information can be used to improve the process.

It’s essential to understand that the virtual onboarding process can be tricky. If implemented incorrectly, an employee may feel a disconnect with the organisation, and this can directly impact the retention rate adversely.

4. The Gig Economy and Freelancers

Many organisations across the world went into a downsizing mode during the pandemic. They have realised the possibilities of remote working and the advantages of hiring freelancers or contractors.

Hiring a freelancer can cut down on the time and money spent on recruiting a new employee. You can choose from a global workforce that is talented and highly skilled in multiple fields.

A freelancer can fill a temporary position or work on specific projects as required. Sometimes they can be even hired on a long-term basis as consultants to fill positions that are hard to fill.

HR teams will have to keep track of how much it costs the company to hire gig workers to see if it is a feasible solution for them.

5. Upskilling

While many businesses shut shop in 2020, some of the resilient ones decided to offer new products and services to survive. With these changing times, HR teams must look at upskilling themselves to adapt to the changing times, along with ways to retrain and even upskill employees. It is time to introduce new processes to ensure that employees have the right training and knowledge to tackle any challenges ahead.

Companies must prioritise and invest in creating comprehensive learning and development programs if they haven’t done so already. Sometimes, employees may also decide to explore other career avenues. HR teams must be flexible if they want to retain their talented and valuable workforce.

HR Trends to take into account for 2021 2

6. Data-Driven HR

HR teams deal with a lot of data, and it seems that in 2021, HR analytics will use that information too. HR teams can use analytics to get insights into the data they collect. These data-driven insights can be valuable to companies and their leaders. They can be leveraged to make smarter predictions and decisions about the workforce.

HR teams can use this data to learn about the productivity habits of the employees, the tools they find most beneficial, etc. Some other metrics where analytics can be applied are absenteeism, turnover rate, offer acceptance rate, etc.

Apart from assessing team performance, HR professionals can also use this data to understand the reasons behind these numbers and come up with actionable solutions. For example, by looking at the insights behind the reasons for employee resignation, HR teams can create more successful employee retention plans. 

7. Employee Engagement

One of the biggest challenges for an HR team is to keep the employees happy, engaged, and productive. An organisation must make efforts to show employees what their physical and emotional well-being means to them. Unless employees feel valued, it is almost impossible to keep them engaged, healthy, and avoid burnout.

Unless employees feel valued, it is almost impossible to keep them engaged, healthy, and avoid burnout. Click To Tweet

Here are some ways to keep a remote workforce engaged.

  • Be flexible with benefits and offer employees a comprehensive package, if needed.
  • Include mental health consultations as a part of your employee health plan.
  • Companies can consider offering perks like flexible timings, parental leave, etc.
  • To help employees tackle financial stress, consider organising financial education webinars for them.
  • Companies should pay attention to strengthening their corporate social responsibility strategies (CSR). Employees today want to contribute more to the community they live in and make a difference. Having a strong CSR strategy can be effective as a recruitment tool as employees today like to work for organisations that provide volunteering opportunities.

8. Employee Wellness

The significance of focusing on employee wellness has taken centre stage this year.

Company leaders made it a point to connect more often with their employees. They also made substantial efforts via video calls or virtual events to check in with them regularly. As employees prioritised physical and mental health, companies realised they needed to support them in their efforts.

Here are some points to keep in mind to take care of employee wellness –

  • HR teams must look at ways to create wellness programs that promote a happy workplace and great organisational culture.
  • Instead of offering freebies like coffee machines, and indoor games, companies must ask employees what they want.
  • Companies must find the best ways to offer emotional and mental support to their employees.
  • They must also create wellness programs that allow employees to achieve work-life balance.

9. Employee Monitoring

Organisations always want to make sure their employees are at their productive best. Companies have been using tools like virtual timekeepers, computer usage trackers, etc. to monitor employee schedule adherence. Some of these tools are used to keep track of employee productivity. In other cases, they use tools to understand employee experience or to monitor employee engagement.

In 2021, the trend of data collection will see an upswing with the additional responsibility of monitoring remote workers. HR teams will also have to collect data regarding the health and safety of employees.

They must follow best practices and company policies to ensure employee information and data are used and handled responsibly.

10. Diversity and Inclusion

According to a recent report by McKinsey, the representation of women in the C-suite grew from 17 to 21 per cent between 2015 and 2020. However, women continue to be under-represented vis-a-vis men in the workspace. The need to build a workforce that is gender-balanced and culturally diverse has never been more crucial.

Inclusive and gender diverse organisations are most effective in bringing about a positive change in corporate culture. McKinsey also notes that when women are well-represented at the top, company profits can be up to 50 per cent higher.

Companies are looking at ways to increase organisational awareness about diversity, inclusion, and equality. They have also been adopting behaviours and skills so they can be an ally for gender and racial equality. More of these initiatives are likely to be seen in 2021.

11. Organisational Culture

Organisational culture plays a massive role in an organisation’s long-term success. Positive and well-defined company culture defines its identity. It also helps to promote its mission and give employees a sense of purpose and belonging to the company.

Culture is not something that can be automated nor does it have a formula that can be replicated en masse. Employees can tell whether the organisation is merely paying lip service or really means what it says when it comes to workplace culture.

Companies must also remember that the steps taken now to preserve the company culture are what employees will remember long after the crisis is over. Keeping your employees engaged and keeping communication always open will help boost employee loyalty in the future.

It is natural for employees to feel apprehensive about venturing out of their homes. They may also be concerned about the health of their loved ones and themselves as they resume working in the office. 

12. Getting Back to the Workspace

Many industries do not have the option or luxury to work from home. Some examples are healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality, retail, etc. In such cases, how does the HR team ensure that employees are safe when working? What are the steps the HR team must take to ensure a productive and supportive workspace for them now and in the future?

It is natural for employees to feel apprehensive about venturing out of their homes. They may also be concerned about the health of their loved ones and themselves as they resume working in the office.

Here are some steps that companies can take to help employees feel at ease when rejoining the workspace.

  • Have strict protocols and security measures in place to make employees feel safe.
  • Implement and enforce social distancing guidelines.
  • Ensure that the employees have access to the necessary essential medical equipment.
  • Practice and enforce all the recommended public health guidelines to keep the workplace disinfected.

The HR department has a massive impact on how a business runs and how successful it is. HR professionals have to develop a brand new perspective to embrace 2021 and all its challenges. Running an agile and flexible HR department is critical to help organisations adopt and thrive, no matter what the situation may be.


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