What will HR look like in 2021?

Written by Andrea Frith

2021 HR trends will be influenced by the pandemic as the working environment has been completely re-shaped. The trends for next year will in the majority be linked back to the impact of Covid-19, but there are other areas that will move up any HR departments agenda: 

1. Remote working

Remote working will continue well into the new year and in all likeness will create permanent trends. There are plenty of perks to remote working that are being realised although these are balanced with concerns around employee productivity and focus. 2021 will be about trying to find a middle ground that works for both parties. Further measurement will be possible on productivity and employee engagement. Permanent remote working will come with its challenges – IT infrastructure will be re-aligned; dining room tables will need to be replaced with proper home office space and team collaboration may become a struggle.

2. Diversity and Inclusion 

It is likely that 2021 will be the biggest year to-date for Diversity and Inclusion. Gender equality and ethnic diversity is a hot topic and will be heavily reported on during 2021. Analysts will be looking at data and reporting on trends and focusing on what is lacking and HR experts will be planning on how to address this in the coming years.

3. Employee wellbeing and mental health

Employee wellbeing is without doubt linked to productivity. Following the challenges of 2020, most organisations will have seen an increase in absenteeism due to mental health concerns. Many employers are very supportive and recognise the importance of supporting the workforce. Mental health first aiders are common and helplines are available for employees. HR will have an increased agenda to ensure that support is provided and to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to talk about any issues. This will become more of a challenge as remote working stays and uncertainty around job security continues with the economic downturn, we face for 2021.

4. Workforce transformation

Agile workforces and planning, flexibility and collaboration are essential in uncertain times. Jobs and responsibilities are changing, and organisations will transform processes to maximise productivity. HR will look to invest in moving away from rigid frameworks and embrace many forms of transformation.

5. Cost optimisation

Redundancies are still high on many HR agenda`s along with pay freezes and bonus rewards not being paid. 2021 will be a difficult year. How do you maintain an engaged and motivated workforce, some of whom will have worked harder than ever through 2020 and not be reward financially? HR will need to look at cost effective ways of rewarding existing employees and balance this with attracting fresh talent on limited budgets. Never before will non-financial benefits and a healthy working environment be paramount.

HR will have a difficult year; many working in overstretched teams and may be exhausted after dealing with a crisis with no rule book. Early employee engagement and healthy strategic planning will be the key and work towards a lean but successful 2021.

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