21st January 2021
2020 has been a landmark year as it seems to have set the tone for the future of the workplace. And since the pandemic doesn’t look anywhere close to an end, we face the possibility of spending another year indoors.
The shift in the way we work has majorly impacted on the HR function, and to no one’s surprise, has influenced many HR trends as we enter 2021.
By now, many of us have become accustomed to working from home, and remote working is likely to continue well after we’ve seen the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote working offers a number of benefits that weren’t realised by employers until their hands were forced. Although, it is true that those benefits are countered by concerns around employee focus and productivity as well as other challenges such as IT infrastructure re-aligning, the need to find or create proper home office spaces in place of the dining room table and team collaborating becoming a struggle.
As we enter 2021, companies will need to continue working on finding a middle ground that allows them to benefit from the pros of remote working while finding ways to keep their staff feeling engaged.
Diversity and Inclusion
Between the Black Lives Matter movement and the growing inequity in the gender pay gap, conversations around diversity and inclusion are louder than ever right now and diversity in the workplace is a bigger concern than ever before.
It’s likely that 2021 will see companies continuing to set diversity hiring targets
Many companies are already starting to set diversity hiring targets. It will be interesting to see exactly how much change diversity hiring and chief diversity officers bring to the workplace. On thing’s for sure, as we continue through 2021 and beyond, diversity and inclusion will be top of mind for employers.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
It goes without saying that the current COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the mental health of many. In fact, more than two thirds of adults in the UK have confessed that their mental health has suffered grossly during the first lockdown in 2020, according to Mind UK.
One very large aspect of the HR role is to advocate for the health and mental wellbeing of its company’s employees, so naturally once of the enduring HR trends throughout 2021 will be the investment in mental health and wellbeing initiatives, such as:
- Being available for employees to voice their fears to and answer any questions they may have.
- Showing empathy to employees and their individual circumstances and needs.
- Providing support and resources to get help where needed.
- Offering long-term remote work support.
If they haven’t done so already, HR departments are going need to develop long-term strategies for offering mental health support and resources to their employees. Those strategies are likely to stay at the forefront of the recruiting process and become a key selling point for attracting new hires.
Any companies that are able to reopen their workplaces will also need to factor the health and safety of their staff into these plans. This might include initiatives such as:
- Reorganising workspaces.
- Amending or creating rotas to limit the numbers of staff in the office at one time.
- Providing PPE.
- Updating company policies.
Agile workforces, planning and collaboration are essential at the best of times, so with the uncertain times we find ourselves in now, the necessity we increase dramatically. Jobs and responsibilities are changing and organisations will, no doubt, transform processes to maximise productivity.
HR will look to invest in moving away from rigid frameworks and embrace many forms of transformation.
2021 is going to be a difficult year for many reasons, especially financially. With redundancies still a real risk to many employees alongside pay freezes and bonus rewards not being paid, it’s going to be hard to maintain an engaged and motivated workforce. Many have worked harder than ever over the last year, and to not be rewarded for that dedication financially can be hard.
HR teams will need to look at cost effective ways of rewarding existing employees and balance this with attracting fresh talent on limited budgets. Non-financial benefits and a healthy working environment have never been so paramount.
Reliance on Data-Driven Insights
Businesses are investing in tools to help them assess and maintain the productivity and engagement of their workforces at an increasing rate as more employees are working remotely.
The challenge that HR teams are facing is having to find ways to ensure that staff are not only hitting targets, but that also maintain a healthy work environment.
HR professionals are adopting more sophisticated tools to measure not only employee productivity but also wellbeing. All of this data feeds into the decision-making process around improving workplace conditions and making smarter hiring decisions.
Tools such as employee satisfaction surveys are invaluable to these efforts. Want more ways to increase your employees’ engagement? Find out how with Staff Squared Pulse!
New Definition of the Employee Experience
I’m sure we’d all love to hope that the 2021 workplace will see the rise of more positive changes that set the benchmark for the agile and continually evolving nature of work. And it seems that the first of those changes is the adjustment employers and their staff are already starting to make as we welcome a ‘new normal’ when it comes to how, when and where we work.
While the pandemic has presented many challenges, the good news is that (for the most part) we’re noticing a positive effect on the employee experience.
Between the flexibility that comes with remote working and the increased effort that employers are making to stay connected to their staff, more companies are starting to notice an increased engagement amongst employees.
The challenge will be for HR teams to keep up these engagement levels and find ways to ensure that employees stay motivated as we continue though the pandemic and beyond.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.