February 4, 2021

As organizations reflect on the past year and HR departments plan for the future, it is crucial to identify the trends in HR that professionals can expect to see over the course of the year. Below we highlight five key trends in HR and discuss ways leaders can adopt these trends into their current processes.

1. HR Function Becomes Even More Important

Human Resources manages every part of the employee lifecycle. From the initial outreach to the onboarding experience, all the way up until the exit interview, HR leaders influence the experience of an employee. With so much of the traditional lifecycle having faced significant changes from the COVID-19 virus, HR professionals are being recognized for their necessity in successful organizations.

#DYK as much as 80% of the workforce could be freelance by 2030? @ClearCompany breaks down 5 key trends in #HR that #leaders can expect in 2021:

No matter which industry you consider, HR is right in the middle of the changes impacting workers. Hospitality and retail are still letting people go and enacting hiring freezes. Transport and logistics are seeing hiring surges, much like e-commerce. HR leaders face an onslaught of new hurdles for workers while also furloughing, recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training new team members remotely to follow social distancing guidelines.

Navigating these challenges will be even more unique, as many organizations embrace work-from-anywhere or remote work formats. HR managers need to be able to adjust to remote hiring and create virtual onboarding processes that foster positive employee experiences.

large-5 Things HR Leaders Should Watch for in 2021

For most, hiring and onboarding are just the tip of the iceberg. Your current employees are also struggling in this period, and HR leaders must create a resource-rich environment to support them. Among many other responsibilities, HR leaders must:

  • Be a key source of guidance and information during the pandemic.
  • Manage internal communications for transparency and information.
  • Build networks for collaboration and productivity.
  • Implement remote training and performance management processes.
  • Offer safety and security information about return to work.
  • Help employees balance at-home responsibilities with their workload.

What we’ve seen over the last 12 months is HR leaders stepping up to the plate and applying years of training and industry knowledge to create a seamless and efficient transition.

2. Redefining the Employee Experience

One advantage of these HR trends in the workforce is that many employees appreciate the new opportunities working from home has offered. McKinsey found that the flexibility that comes with remote work has increased engagement and well-being levels in the U.S. However, the same study also found that more than 80% of their respondents said the pandemic is affecting their work lives. Finding ways to support employees and create a positive sense of connectedness between your teams will help to create a workforce that is more productive and engaged in their work.

In 2021, HR leaders must gain clarity on how employees are affected through engagement tools and employee surveys. Eventually, the goal is to improve the employee experience and company culture, leveraging the learnings from this unique period.

DYK? 80% of workers who are new to remote work say that their company’s internal communication helps them feel more confident in making decisions during the crisis.

3. Employee Mental Health Takes a Prominent Place

This previous fall, 76% of surveyed respondents cited increased levels of burnout due to stress from the pandemic. Workers are feeling more stressed and anxious in their professional and personal lives, with women and minority workers feeling the effects more greatly. Leaders have reported the following HR trends in 2021:

  • Employee burnout from an increased workload
  • Sandwich generation issues coming to a head
  • Home office shortcomings
  • Lack of security about school and childcare
  • Overall anxiety from dealing with the drastic change in lifestyle

Employee well-being and mental health are undoubtedly going to be a focus for HR leaders. How, though, can great HR leaders offer a focus on well-being that seeps into the company culture?

  • Be there. Your employees need to know they can rely on you or your team for support when necessary. Consider leaving space in your schedule for check-ins or impromptu meetings so that your employees have an outlet for discussing difficult topics. 
  • Be empathetic. We are all facing novel and challenging experiences. Many of your employees will be struggling with obstacles they’ve never faced before, and the learning curve associated with remote work and new technologies means productivity may suffer at times. Remember to show empathy and remove pressure in these situations to help resolve issues, getting your team back on track more quickly. 
  • Be strategic. HR leaders need to remain proactive and look ahead for resources, offerings, technologies, or opportunities that will better support their remote staff. 
  • Be aware. Whether you are planning a return to the office or not, paying attention to the sentiment of your team will help identify potential areas of pitfall in your remote work strategies.
  • Be prepared. Organizations that reopen their workplaces will have to prioritize the health and safety of their employees. That could mean a new space, advanced systems, new policies, and addressing those employees who simply do not feel safe coming back to work.
It’s time to reflect on the past year and plan for the future. @ClearCompany helps you prepare for 2021 with these 5 key #trends in #HR to adopt:

4. Introducing Flexible, Fluid Policies

One HR trend to watch for is organizations leaning into flexible, fluid work policies. With remote work and work-flex policies, employees can take more ownership of their weekly schedules and professional careers. Other options for flex work include contracted, or gig workers and alternative benefits offered to employees.

For organizations that need to make additional budget cuts to keep their bottom line moving forward, HR leaders have decisions to make on things, including reduced workweek schedules, furloughing employees, or reducing offered benefits to employees. In the last year, many HR leaders have grappled with these very decisions. As we recover from the past year and start 2021 off fresh, these same leaders will need to prepare plans for future disruptions.

DYK? 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contract workers to save costs?

This is no shock to workforce management analysts who study the rise of contingent and freelance marketplaces across the globe. According to JLL Consulting, as much as 80% of the workforce could be freelance by 2030. This raises the questions:

  • How does your company source freelance or contract workers?
  • How will performance metrics and benefits apply to workers that aren’t full time?
  • How will you input retention and turnover numbers with a fluid workforce?
  • How can you create efficient onboarding and training processes for contingent workers?

5. Data-Informed Insights Counterbalanced with Human Insights

Investing in technology that allows your team to work virtually and monitor communications is essential to the success of any remote organization. One HR trend to embrace is the encouragement of collaboration and transparency. Productivity tracking tools can assist with transparency by providing valuable insights into how your employees are coping with the stresses of the pandemic. These tech tools enable HR leaders to use real-time feedback to ensure their team continues to grow and communicate. This actionable feedback can help your team prepare for further changes. 

While some companies choose to invest in more non-traditional monitoring tools, like email monitoring and workplace social media usage, great HR leaders might decide to go a different route. Data-informed insights from employee surveys and sentiment are beneficial but tracking a worker’s productivity by monitoring may reduce trust in the organization and lead to more issues down the road.

DYK? In 2018, Gartner found that more than 50% of large corporations surveyed were using non-traditional techniques like email scraping and tracking workspace usage to monitor employees.

HR trends continue to showcase the importance of strong HR leaders. Organizations must be able to rely on their HR department to keep employees engaged, motivated, and committed to the overall goals of the company. For hiring managers looking to streamline their employee engagement and performance management strategies, ClearCompany is here to help. With fully integrated and user-friendly interfaces, ClearCompany’s product suites enable leaders to take charge of their performance management goals and customize their approach to hiring, retention, and engagement. To learn more about our award-winning solutions, reach out to an expert today, or sign up for your free demo now.

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.