Which HR trends will have the largest impact on the workplace in 2021?
As we all know, 2020 was a momentous and volatile year for businesses around the world. Many new trends emerged in the workplace, such as remote working, while others, such as upskilling and workplace training, became more prominent.
In 2021 and beyond, many of these trends will continue and become more pronounced.
Below, we’ll examine some of the most important HR trends to pay attention to in the coming months and years.
6 of the Top HR Trends to Watch in 2021
Here are a few of the most significant trends that will continue to affect the workplace as we move forward into the 2020s:
1. Remote Working
In 2020, telecommuting became widespread due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though many expect the workplace to return to normal at some point, others suggest that remote working will take a much more permanent place in most organizations.
Google, for instance, is one among many companies that has continued to extend its remote working policies. Late in 2020, they even suggested making sweeping changes to their workplace model and offering “flexible work week” options and shifting to a “fully hybrid workforce model.”
Since remote working will undoubtedly become more prevalent in the years ahead, HR teams should continue to examine and refine their telecommuting practices and policies.
Employee training has always been an important part of the modern enterprise, but it is even more crucial in today’s complex, ever-changing digital workplace.
Digital tools, after all, are continually being adopted, updated, and changed. To keep up with these changes, employees must become perpetual learners, and employers must be responsible for a portion of that training.
In the coming years, HR teams should focus their efforts on upskilling and training trends such as:
- Remote learning
- Contextualized employee training
- The use of emerging technology for employee training
The more rapidly the workplace changes, the more important it is for employers to find ways to maintain a digitally savvy, well-trained workforce.
As digital transformation continues to accelerate and digital adoption becomes a permanent facet of the workplace, HR departments should ensure that they have robust training programs in place.
3. The Blended Workforce
The blended workforce is a term that refers to a workforce composition that includes more freelancers, independent contractors, and gig workers. It can also refer to the use of more remote workers than onsite workers.
There are both pros and cons to the blended workforce model.
A blended workforce, for instance, can offer more flexibility at a lower cost.
Yet HR teams are also presented with more challenges when managing a blended workforce. It is more difficult, for instance, to maintain a cohesive workplace culture when there are more remote workers and gig workers.
Given the cost benefits and flexibility associated with a blended workforce, however, it is a good idea to prepare for a future workplace that is more remote and more diverse.
4. The Employee Experience
The employee experience has become a major focal point in recent years, since employers are beginning to recognize its impact on employee engagement, employee productivity, and organizational performance.
Positive employee experiences have a wide range of positive impacts on the workforce, such as:
- Less workplace friction
- More job satisfaction
- Improved organizational communication
- Greater employee retention
In short, better employee experiences result in a more positive work environment, which improves employee metrics across the board.
Naturally, given the radical changes that the workplace has undergone in 2020, managers and HR teams must find innovative ways of supporting employees and creating positive workplace experiences in today’s remote, digital-first work world.
5. A Focus on Organizational Change
Organizational change has become commonplace in recent years, and that will not change in 2021.
There are a wide range of factors driving change in today’s enterprise, from digital transformation to changes in customer behavior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of these factors will remain in effect for years to come, so business leaders and HR teams must find ways to manage those changes effectively.
Among other things, change management programs focus on areas such as:
- Designing and implementing a change management plan
- Motivating employees and reducing resistance to change
- Providing effective onboarding and training
In tomorrow’s workplace, many analysts predict that change will be the only constant. It is imperative, therefore, to ensure that change programs are implemented smoothly and successfully.
6. The Technology-Driven Workplace
The digital workplace is built upon the seamless integration of digital technology into the work environment.
Digital skills, as mentioned above, are one of the most crucial components of that digital-first workplace.
However, the digital transformation of the work environment also entails other changes, such as:
- The adoption of modern tools and technology
- Rethinking and redesigning business processes to leverage those tools to their fullest extent
- Using data, analytics, automation, and other emerging technology
- Incorporating agile workflows and processes into the organization’s operating model
Technology-driven organizations, in other words, require reinvention at every level of the business, from organizational strategies to local workflows and processes.
HR should be prepared to work with business leaders and managers to keep employees agile and ensure that their workflows are built around digital tools.