February 2, 2021

As you prepare for HR leadership for yourself or begin to mentor an HR professional with leadership potential, consider how you can prepare for what’s next in 2021 and beyond:

Gen Z Is Here.

Many HR professionals mistakenly conflate Gen Y or Millennials with Gen Z or Echo Boomers. They have similarities, like wanting regular check-ins, for example, but Millennials prefer to communicate online while Gen Z craves face-to-face interaction. Understanding why and how these generations accept jobs and enter the workforce can inform everything from benefits to hierarchical structure. 

The Workplace is not Enough.

Although many in the HR profession might feel that those currently employed are lucky, it comes when consumerization within the workplace has been at an all-time high. Millennials and Gen Z would like more collaborative management; they want more than just employment. Using surveys to get to the root of what younger generations and all generations want is a great way to understand workforce needs. 

DYK? 60% of Gen Z-ers want to touch base with their managers daily! Check out more from @ClearCompany and their predictions for #HRLeadership in 2021:

Engagement of Employees Becomes Paramount.

We've been talking about Employee Engagement for a long time. However, new ways are emerging all the time to engage employees. One that is not necessarily new but is seeing a surge in our current state is that of corporate social responsibility or CSR. Most of your employees don't feel fully engaged at work. To engage them, we can strengthen CSR policies and programs. When and if you decide to implement a corporate social responsibility program, make sure it aligns with your corporate values and your employees’ values. Today's employees would like to feel more involved in the decision-making of their workplace.

“I think it's back to the most fundamental aspects of our shared humanity, and that’s caring about people and putting them first. I think we will see a heightened interest in workplace culture and climate surveys, employee listening sessions, and town hall meetings. Further, the diversity, equity, and inclusion work of HR will be front and center as we strive toward anti-racist work environments.” 

- Courtney Peterson, Sidwell Friends School

Employee Wellness Makes Waves.

Wellness will become a priority in 2021. What used to be a perk like a fitness stipend or healthier food options is evolving to become more holistic and comprehensive. Smart and innovative companies realize that emotionally and physically healthy employees make more productive, less stressed employees, which increases engagement.

“A focus on mental health and well-being would become a central part of the HR agenda. Emotional well-being — not just financial incentives — would be a factor a prospective candidate would look for in the employer value proposition. Emotional well-being, not onsite perks, would define what a great place to work would look like.” 

- Vineet Gambhir, Contemporary Leadership Advisors

Modern Benefits Increase.

We see benefits continue to increase as companies get creative about what they would like to offer their employees to retain them during the chaotic period. Benefits like parental leave, tuition reimbursement, financial wellness programs, unlimited PTO, and more continue to augment current offerings. HR professionals who want to attract younger workers, retain middle-aged workers, and protect and engage older workers will do well to consider all benefits in the future.

“COVID-19 will force much-needed change in employer-sponsored health plans — a fundamental change in how employers and employees share in both cost and benefits’ value. The incentive for change is strong, and the data and technology we need to do it exist. As a result, more employers will embrace better plan design based on the tenets of personalization, choice, flexibility, and cost certainty.”

- Jenna Obrycki Upgren, Bind Benefits, Inc.

Data Drives HR.

Things like turnover rate, offer acceptance, absenteeism, attendance, revenue per employee, productivity, engagement, pay increases, promotions, personas, and so much more have been tracked separately. Today, HR analytics allow HR professionals to see more through the data they naturally collect. HR analytics and their insights enable HR professionals to reduce administrative burden and increase strategic thinking, all backed by data.

“We expect to see improvements in workplace technology systems. With the drastic changes that organizations had to implement recently, having better collaboration tools, remote connectivity platforms (i.e., VPNs), and stronger IT infrastructures will be key. Additionally, enhanced employee training will be essential, so that employees are better equipped to transition both in/out of office effectively with little to no disruptions.” 

- Jennifer Beezer, SPHR, SHRM-CP, FOREO Inc.

Broader Role in Corporate Strategy.

While HR professionals have long requested a seat at the proverbial table, it’s doubtful anyone thought it would take a pandemic to make the rest of the business world understand just how vital HR professionals are. Now in the bullseye of a post-pandemic world, HR professionals have become more involved in corporate strategy. Certification, business growth, and employee experience will become even more robust areas of the HR profession in 2021.

Diverse Workforce Accelerates.

COVID-19 wasn't the only massive development in 2020. HR professionals also grappled with anemic DE&I initiatives that did not satisfy the growing need for social change. In 2021, employees and candidates alike, bolstered by leadership, will expect more from HR professionals. Expect heavier scrutiny on unconscious bias and a higher expectation of training for the entire workforce.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will become a more significant trend in the coming months. The world is changing right before our eyes, and HR practitioners will need to support the positive and not-so-positive changes that are occurring. DEI is not new, but the lens by which HR practitioners will have to manage this topic will require fresh ideas and strategies that speak to the now. 

- Tina R. Walker, California Community Foundation

Text Message Recruiting Builds Momentum.

Text or SMS messaging allows HR professionals to speak to candidates and applicants directly. SMS recruiting is being used for everything from career fairs to notifying a talent community about a new role. Text messages currently have a 98% open rate but don't anticipate that's sticking around. Smart HR leaders will use SMS messaging to continue candidate engagement and not the only tool in your recruitment arsenal.

Focusing on Internal Talent Mobility.

Over 20% of leaders rated internal talent mobility as one of the top three most urgent issues in their organization. While this was before the global pandemic, it makes sense that the focus on internal talent mobility should remain since many workers have been furloughed, potentially demoted, or stalled in a promotion track. For many creative HR leaders, now is the time to double down on internal talent mobility to keep employees engaged and committed to their work.

Over 20% of leaders rated internal talent mobility as one of the top three most urgent issues in their organization. @ClearCompany shares more insights on the latest in #HRLeadership here:

A Jumpstart on Continuous Performance Management.

This particular movement has been a focus of innovative HR leaders for the past decade. While not every leading organization had shifted from the traditional, annual review to continuous performance management, enough had been labeled an indicator of engagement, profits, customer service, and more. Employees support the idea of instant evaluation and continuous feedback on their performance. The aforementioned trends toward collaboration and face time with leadership only serve to underscore this goal.

Conclusion

ClearCompany can help make 2021 the year you lead your organization through transformation. Get a free copy of our HR Leadership Guide now, complete with templates, checklists, and ideas to make you the best HR Leader you can be!


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Sara Pollock
Sara Pollock
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As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent thousands of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.