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Top 10 HR Trends For 2021 | Latest HR Trends

Kate William

10 min read

The Human Resources (HR) department has undergone a lot of changes over the past few years. Starting from having to embrace a variety of new technologies and processes to following compliance laws, business conditions have been unpredictable in the year 2020. The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been great either for the HR departments around the world as they have had to traverse through a myriad of restrictions and respond quickly to issues.

Let us look at some of the HR trends for 2021 and beyond that will impact the way we work:

HR Trend #1. Rethinking HR

The shift to remote work has impacted several HR trends. Even aspects like recruiting, training, onboarding, etc., have changed completely. The most challenging part was that the HR department has had to make do with little resources to bring about this change of having to work remotely. Most of the HR decisions were done with the help of one-to-one meetings, but having to do all of them virtually has its own set of difficulties. The HR department has had to completely overhaul its present systems so that they could deal with the new setup with as little resistance as possible.

When everyone is working from their homes, proper communication becomes a problem although you could get most professional discussions done with the help of video-conferencing tools. But if the HR team wants to keep a pulse on how the entire workforce is feeling or if there are any conflicts that have arisen, such conversations are not easy to have virtually. The reliance on technology will be too much at this point to track employee productivity.

HR teams are making use of all the tools that are available at their disposal to create a sense of belonging among everyone. There needs to be a lot of innovativeness and creativity to create the feeling that everyone is part of the same team. Zoom calls can only do so much, this is where the HR department has to go out of its way to think differently.

HR Trend #2. Creating a new employee experience plan

When a new employee joins the company, they go through a various number of motions before they are set to start working. Starting from walking them through the rules of the organization to introducing the new employee to the team, giving them access to their work desk and taking them out for lunch, all of these are necessary activities that are required. But with work from home being a reality for an uncertain period of time, this is not possible. There is no real-life interaction at all when the new employee cannot meet up with their team. To interact with employees more and to increase employee productivity, you can run an employee engagement survey like this one..

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In such a scenario, the HR team should completely overhaul the existing employee experience tactics that they have used over the years. The onboarding process is just one part of the employee experience. The HR team should come up with innovative ways to ensure that everyone feels comfortable, come up with team-building exercises where everyone feels wanted, ensure the mental and physical well-being of everyone involved, and so on. All of this takes a lot of effort because it is a territory that none of them have ventured into earlier There are no references to check back on how a competitor did it nor there is a manual.

The HR team has to come up with a lot of experiments and see the ones that work well according to the principles of the company. Things from shadowing to having an accountability buddy, all of this is possible only if the HR team goes out of its way to identify opportunities to improve the morale of the employee.

HR Trend #3. The Hybrid workplace

Workplace has changed drastically over the years, especially so in the past few months because of the pandemic. There was a time when there were separated cubicles to a more open workspace, there are spaces that are specifically created to meet specific business needs like report writing, meeting, calling, etc.

The hybrid workspace was created because of necessity and compulsion. The hybrid workspace considers various aspects before it arrives at a specific model. It considers the nature of the work, the kind of tasks that they do, the personality of the worker, home setup of the employee, and so on. Co-working spaces are one more thing that has become popular of late.

Since it has become clear that many job roles can be performed by anyone with the requisite skill sets sitting at any corner of the world, businesses are thinking of hiring internationally also as it will mean cheaper labor or specific expertise in some cases. While we need to assess the impact of long-term work from home, businesses should quickly adapt for the hybrid workspace so that it doesn’t create detachment towards the company since no one is going to the office anymore.

HR Trend #4. Skill Mapping

The ability to acquire new skills is paramount, especially in this time and age when the uncertainty in the job market is huge. Even employers need to equip their employees with the necessary knowledge so that they become bigger assets to the company. The HR team should help its employees map the skills so that they can put themselves in a position where they can learn more supporting skills.

For a company that is specifically looking for a skill set, instead of having to go through the long process of hiring, is it possible to find employees on your payroll who can be taught the particular skill set. It will save a lot of time for the company as well as it provides an opportunity for the employee to give themselves better odds in the job market. For employees who possess skills that are no longer extremely relevant, make it a point to find other skills that they can learn to be more valuable to the organization. It will stop them from being obsolete.

HR Trend #5. The Gig economy

Gone are the days when everyone was looking for a full-time job. Many people are looking for flexibility in work, so that they can have more flexibility and the choice to work with whom they want. Most people are also looking for a better work-life balance when they are being a part of the gig economy. It offers the freedom of time as well. The HRs should keep this in mind when dealing with freelancers for the company. Leveraging the gig workers is also a way to keep your workforce agile, nimble and highly productive.

There are a lot of work-related apps that will help with managing the gig workers efficiently. You will also find that freelance platforms will soon become an important channel for HRs during recruitment. HRs need to find a way to balance the demands of this growing workforce. They cannot be handled the same way you handle full-time employees. Expecting them to be ready for a call on a short notice or asking them to spend a few hours every week to have consultation calls (for free) are not welcome at all in the freelancer’s diary. Your only objective is to ensure that they get the job done. Many of the roles will be outsourced to freelancers who have specific expertise.

HR Trend #6. Analytics

Analytics has been something that businesses have used over the last few years to get to know more about one’s customers and prospects. It will help in the selling process as well as providing one’s customers personalized services. Come 2021, businesses will steer towards finding ways to use analytics for the betterment of the employees too.

Here are some of the areas where the HR team can use analytics. Are the training and development initiatives bearing fruit? What are the results like after training gets over? Is there a quantifiable number that can be used to measure the effectiveness of each of the training. Thousands of dollars and many resources are spent to train the employees. But many companies are guilty of not measuring these at all. Performance management is one more area where businesses should proactively measure the impact that each employee is making. Businesses need to use value-added data to find what is bringing the most returns.

You need people analytics if you are looking to make a difference to how you want your employees to be treated. By gathering data and converting it into information with the help of analytics, businesses will be able to understand its employees better and provide them with resources that will change their outlook about the company and make them work better.

HR Trend #7. Creating purpose-driven organizations

When your employees get up in the morning, how motivated are they to head to work? If you feel that the answer to that might not be something you hope, then you need to look inwardly. You need to give them a purpose. Purpose is the key to employee and business success. Give your employees a bigger purpose than themselves or even the business and they will always be motivated despite obstacles that come their way. While not every company is designed in such a way that it becomes easy to sell a purpose to the company, you can always look at innovative ways to tell your company’s story.

Every conversation, decision, and communication that you make should have this purpose in mind. The company should focus on building an organization that cares about its employees, has empathy for its customers and employees, creates products of value and has a mindset that reeks of service towards all its stakeholders and the community that it is present in. This kind of a focus can be envisioned by any company, even one that might not fall into an essential sense of service.

You should emphasize these values, starting from the hiring process. Every step that you keep ahead should have them in mind. The leadership should show that they mean everything by following the mission and vision of the company always. HR practices like employee management, leadership development, training and learning, etc., should be a permanent fixture for each of its employees.

HR Trend #8. Personalization

Like using analytics only for prospective customers, even personalization was a buzzword that was always used with the customer in mind. Thankfully, the times have changed and employees are also a part of the conversation when it comes to personalization. Encourage your employees to create a Personal User Guide which can be considered as a manual on how to treat each other at the office and outside.

Creating a Personal User Guide will encourage people to come up with their own guidelines which will make them a better employee and the office a wonderful place to work at. The HR team should help them do it by making their own versions of Personal User Guides.

Apart from this, you will also see a shift in employees creating their own personal space that befits their personality and liking. When they are working at home, they will have created a workspace that they deemed fit according to their tastes. Once they are back to the office, they might want to re-create something similar. It is great for their morale if they are given the freedom to make it happen. It will give them a feeling of ownership of their space in the office while also ensuring that they feel productive, satisfied, and valued.

HR Trend #9. Mentorship

Creating a place of working where everyone is satisfied and upbeat isn’t certainly one of the easiest things to do. It requires consistent work and understanding that the needs of everyone is met. While a cookie-cutter solution for an employee’s learning might not work well for everyone, there is no doubt about the fact that devising a strategy of learning for each of them would be extremely effective. With the help of technology, it is extremely easy to create individualized learning experiences for each of your employees.

With the help of AI and Machine Learning tools, you can create recommendations which are unique to an individual. The ML system can curate content, offer personalized help, recommend tasks and evaluate them. It will help accelerate the learning process and also puts them in the path of the right way. By listening to the employees, you can make changes, if necessary. Offer them feedback loops if you want them to follow a particular trajectory during the learning process. It will keep them on track and get the desired results for the company.

Provide each of your employees with a specific mentor. If that is not possible, then you can connect them in a small group where there will be peer-learning apart from regular insights from the mentor. This will help them feel home at work and also expedites their learning.

HR Trend #10. Looking at current and future leaders

Good leadership is one of the pivotal reasons that many companies survived during this pandemic. Leaders are the ones who ensure that all the employees are on the map when it comes to going ahead despite issues. If employees trust the leadership skills of the management, they are more likely to stick with the company. Lack of good leaders is a problem that HR leaders keep facing. The year 2021 is not going to be any different.

The average employee in the organization should know that if they work hard and increase their competency, they will also be in a position to become the CEO. When they know that there are no barriers from someone like them to be a leader, you will see that people are more motivated at work.

Good leaders will also ensure that there is ample representation of people of all kinds. Having a diverse workforce will result in productivity because there will be a sense of respect for each other and everyone will be given a voice to speak out. There have been many research studies which prove that a diverse workforce is also a great place to work. Only a strong leadership will be courageous enough to offer opportunities for people who come from different backgrounds.

The HR teams will be specifically focusing on the present bunch of employees so that they can mould leaders from them. The present leadership also needs to be evaluated and if there are areas where they could improve, the same should be conveyed to them without fail.

Wrapping it up…

The focus of HR teams in 2021 and beyond will be to create an equitable work environment where everyone feels valued and using technology to improve existing systems. HR teams have always been able to handle big changes with relative ease, across companies and verticals. In the present scenario though, while each of their decisions will be made with the bottomline kept in mind, there should also be ample empathy in it. There are many more HR trends that we will see in 2021. For example, employee wellness will be one aspect which businesses will be concentrating on as they want their employees to be fit not only physically, but mentally as well. You can expect a bigger focus on diversity as well as utilizing technology to its maximum.

The challenges and changes that 2020 has brought about are immense. There is hope that the undue pressure on the average employee to take care of both home and office work while battling a pandemic will change in the coming year. Many of us have braved through storms, we can only hope that the next year will usher in a lot of peace and prosperity to each one of us.

If you want to ask questions to your employees about the changes that they are looking for from their HR department, you can use SurveySparrow’s online survey tool which can get your job done. You can even ask your employees to answer anonymously if you feel that they might not open up fearing consequences. To understand more about our offerings, get on a call with SurveySparrow’s Customer Success Team who will be more than happy to guide you.

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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