The Covid-19 pandemic has brought an avalanche of change to the workplace with the rise of remote and hybrid offices, the increased push towards greater employee wellbeing, virtual onboarding and training, etc. The article looks back at top HR trends that ruled in 2021 and will continue to drive HR transformation in 2022 and beyond.
Many people have a preconceived notion that HR professionals have the most relaxing and least stressful job. However, that mindset of people is changing over the years. They have understood that the HR department is not just the ‘personnel section’ that preserves records, ensures that businesses meet rules, and decides the pay and perks of employees at the workplace. But the fact is, HR professionals are engaged in talent management.
They work hard in retaining the best talent in the company by providing a comfortable work environment so that their productivity increases with time. As the productivity of employees increases, the revenue of the company is likely to shoot up. Any uncertainties make the jobs of HR professionals harder. For example, the Covid-19 pandemic has made the HR professionals slog about rejuvenating the work strategy during this tough time.
Joel Martin, Director of advisory services for Software Reviews said, “Right now, HR and IT are arguably the two departments most important to a company’s survival. Executives want to ensure remote workers have the right technology and support at home to do the job, that their sensitive HR data is kept safe at remote working environments, and that they’re keeping remote workers engaged and productive.”
“But the fact is, HR professionals are engaged in talent management. They work hard in retaining the best talent in the company by providing a comfortable work environment so that their productivity increases with time. As the productivity of employees increases, the revenue of the company is likely to shoot up. Any uncertainties make the jobs of HR professionals harder.”
Here is a list of top HR trends that ruled in 2021 and will shape HR in 2022 and beyond. Let’s start one by one.
1. Hybrid workplaces
A Deloitte survey, conducted in April 2021, revealed that more than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) were still entirely remote. However, 64 percent of respondents anticipated their company would reopen at any time in 2021, and another 25 percent indicated they had already done so.
Besides, the surge of Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant procrastinated the reopening of offices. So, companies are reopening their offices in a phased manner and hybrid offices have become their saviour since a company may not allow remote working for some processes that have security or hardware limitations. And opening workplaces with full strength may result in breaching of Covid safety norms. So, in short, hybrid workplaces have become one of the hottest HR trends in 2021.
2. Virtual onboarding
What is the main priority of an HR professional? I believe the answer is attracting, hiring, and retaining the best talents for the organisation. In 2021, when remote working and interviewing candidates through virtual platforms have become the ‘new normal’, why not onboarding?
If I want to define virtual onboarding, I would say that it’s the process of integrating a new recruit via video conferencing apps, online platforms for submitting their data and related documents securely. The HR managers had to adapt to virtual onboarding as it requires new tools for effective onboarding.
I think that virtual onboarding should continue even after the pandemic ends. Because during in-person onboardings, new recruits need to do a lot of paperwork and submit photocopies of their documents. Since we are living in an era of digitalisation, submitting scanned documents electronically will provide a digital experience and will take care of the environment by reducing paper waste.
- Mental wellbeing of employees
One of the adverse effects of this pandemic is that it has had a negative impact on the mental well-being of employees. A significant number of employees reported deteriorating mental health during the pandemic. A person who is not happy in his/her/their personal life is bound to get affected.
So, managing mental health in the workplace has become the new role of HR professionals. Mental health is now being considered an integral part of employee wellbeing.
Organisations are reshaping their employee benefits and programs to retain the top talent in the industry. According to a recent national employer health study done by management consulting company McKinsey & Company, almost three-quarters of firms designated a mental health leader, with around 40 percent of them appointed to senior positions.
4. Remote training and upskill programs
During this pandemic, when most of the employees are working from home, they have saved their commuting time. Eventually, it has given them the opportunity to upskill themselves to new trending technologies.
HR professionals can identify the skill gaps and provide the right platform to acquire that skill. Employers need to remember that hiring a fresh recruit for performing specific tasks is costlier than training present employees to acquire those skills. This way, it can help the companies to retain employees.
- Cloud-based HR systems
It is a hectic task for an HR professional to manage separate systems for payrolls, administrative tasks, performance assessment, etc. Cloud-based HR systems offer to streamline the entire process with ease. Data can be accessed anytime and from anywhere but without compromising its confidentiality.
In 2021, most companies have implemented cloud-based HR systems to reap the benefits like:
- Real-time performance monitoring of employees
- Better compliance management
- Better engagement with employees
“HR professionals can identify the skill gaps and provide the right platform to acquire that skill. Employers need to remember that hiring a fresh recruit for performing specific tasks is costlier than training present employees to acquire those skills. This way, it can help the companies to retain employees.”
Impact of the ‘great resignation’ in 2022
Finding and retaining good employees have become a challenge after the great resignation. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, in September 2021 an estimated 4.4 million people walked away from their jobs.
Experts are saying that after the great resignation, a ‘great raise’ is likely to come. But I think that great raise alone won’t work. Employees are more concerned about the well-being benefits and programs companies offer. So, if they don’t receive such benefits, it will become hard to retain them.
An EY survey has found that if not given post-pandemic flexibility, more than half of employees over the world would leave their jobs. For example, a Businesswire study found that employees are becoming highly interested in perks like paid time off (52 percent), hospital indemnity insurance (48 percent), employee assistance programs (56 percent), and mental health support services (51 percent).
So, HR professionals are likely to have a challenging time ahead to select and retain the best talent. But I believe that they will be able to embrace the new way of the working model to enhance their employee experience and meet business needs at the same time.
Market presence: India, USA, UK, Singapore, and Canada
Employee growth: CAGR 16 percent in three year period
Employee count: 750+
Hiring pipeline: Java, React, Angular, and Dot Net – 60+
Business operation: Software product engineering company with a focus on BFSI and Healthcare sector.
HR metric: Gender Ratio (Male:Female) – 85:15 percent, Diversity (Kolkata /Other Locations) – 90:10 percent