HR Predictions and Trends for 2021

HR Predictions and Trends for 2021

When our world was completely wiped out in 2020, we lost our sense of belonging: the connection with our teammates, with our managers, and, in some cases, with the values   of our industry. Almost overnight, we were pushed into new and unexpected orbits as the corner of our bedroom became the office, our dining tables, and the classroom. All of these changing and isolated environments make it difficult for employees to feel connected to their company, feel seen, and trust that their work is valued.

As we enter a new year and continue the global pandemic, your workplace yearns for a human connection. And HR leaders are actively working to bridge the gap between teams that have expanded and spread over the past year.

That’s why we’re excited to share four bold predictions and HR trends to guide the next year for HR leaders.

1. Employee morale is critical to your success.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased stress levels for 96% of the workforce. Employees were forced to adapt to a completely remote work environment, leading to less physical bonding with colleagues, distance from the company’s mission and values, reduced visibility of their work by the manager, and, consequently, a sense of devaluation of its role.

In addition to the work front, there was additional stress in our personal lives:

  • Increased parental responsibilities as the dining room becomes the classroom
  • Daily meal breaks exercise routines, and downtime as we add more hours to our workweek
  • Concerns about job security and income potential
  • Absence of anti-stress as a social obligation
  • There is not enough time alone at home to decompress
  • Lots of time alone at home or isolated without other people

Companies appreciate improving employee morale through in-response recognition.

2. The hybrid workplace is central.

The pandemic forced all of us into remote work environments that quickly shifted from temporary to semi-permanent solutions. This caused distance between teams to diminish corporate culture and disrupted collaboration and innovation.

But as a vaccine slowly but surely spreads across the country, we’re starting conversations about how to assemble teams in a physical office, and the concept of a hybrid workplace is thriving. Find out how companies like Microsoft deliver their hybrid business plan:

  • Microsoft employees can work from home for less than 50% of their week
  • Drivers can approve permanent remote status if needed
  • Flexible working hours are available without approval
  • Remote employees can be transferred permanently and continue to work for Microsoft

You’re probably already thinking about what a hybrid business model would look like for your company. In planning, it is essential to take into account the different levels of comfort that each employee must have to return to the office or be at a distance.

The key to success is to develop a hybrid work environment that creates authentic connections, whether you decide to come back or stay at home. For example, returning employees have more networking opportunities than absent employees – you need to connect worlds and consider rules of engagement that promote inclusion and collaboration.

3. Employee benefits and rewards will provide flexibility and personalization.

Employee recognition has been a priority in our offices, with sales moves, shouts, and high fives (wait, high fives – isn’t it crazy how does that make you cringe now?) and other celebrations during our week.

Today’s world also requires managers to be more intentional about how and when they recognize their best performance, which leads to less frequent recognition. And your employees are watching.

This can lead to widespread recognition programs that do not strengthen the bond between leadership and employees who are currently absent in our remote world. If you want to prove to employees that their work is seen and valued, create recognition programs that take into account your employees’ personal needs so that recognition efforts look truly genuine and human. And consider programs that are flexible to meet the unique and changing responsibilities and lifestyles of your employees outside of work.

4. DEI’s efforts are proactive and relentless.

The anti-racism and social justice movement in the summer of 2020 opened everyone’s eyes to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) in our world and how we advocate for under-represented or minority groups in our workforce. Many organizations, including ours, have looked closely at how their DEI efforts have connected them, or failed to connect, to diverse communities, people, and perspectives.

Regardless of the size of your business, it’s important to continue to invest in and maintain DEI programs that create meaningful connections among your employees – not just in 2021, but for years to come. One area where you will have the opportunity to connect with new and different communities or employees is through your commitment to a permanently remote or hybrid workplace.

Remember to raise the voice of under-represented communities as you think about it, together as a unit.

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