Full-Service HR

Our Top 4 HR Trends for 2021

Emma Pearce
Our Top 4 HR Trends for 2021
Reading time 5 Mins
Published on Jan 28

In 2020, businesses faced new and unprecedented challenges requiring them to pivot, innovate, and reimagine the fundamental ways they operate. New and ongoing concerns regarding the health, wellness, and safety of employees are front and center, forcing owners and managers to re-examine their current practices and pave the way for new strategies.

“As we begin another new year, it’s important to understand how the pandemic has influenced the working world and how it will continue to re-shape the business landscape moving forward,” says James Terris, Senior Vice President of Operations at Sheakley HR. “With 60 years of experience in the industry, we’ve seen first-hand the paradigm shifts that have occurred in the last 12 months.  In this new and constantly evolving world of HR, we have excelled at meeting these various challenges, innovating, and pivoting to new and better ways to serve our clients and ensure their long-term prosperity.”

Below are 4 HR trends that Terris and his team believe will play a crucial role in ensuring that employees succeed and organizations thrive in the coming year.

Focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Advancing diversity and inclusion in our region remains a priority as we continue striving to grow the vibrancy and economic prosperity of all. The widespread activism and social justice protests that took place this summer shined a spotlight on the systemic inequities that still exist within our organizations and the work that must be done to address them. As a result, business leaders are persistent and motivated to make changes to not only practices, but the cultures preventing these principles from being implemented.

HR leaders should consider making structural changes, implementing clear, data-driven solutions, and immersing executives in bias training and discussions to truly deepen their understanding of how preconceptions impact decision making, talent acquisition, and business outcomes. Specifically, in the recruiting process it is important to identify those departments and teams that could benefit from diverse perspectives or who might be preventing a culture shift.

Adopting a Tech-Driven HR Infrastructure

HR is a core part of any business and 2020 has brought the challenges of people management front and center. A rapid shift towards remote working and a need for constant, reliable communication required HR leaders to take on more strategic roles within their organizations. Tasked with implementing solutions to address problems affecting both employees and the company as a whole, many turned to technology for the answer.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud-based software allow HR teams to streamline efficiencies, boost productivity, and fast-track the decision-making process. From recruiting and retention to payroll and benefits, technology can be leveraged to make employee management easier.  This will allow HR leaders to become more engaged in overall strategy objectives, making the company more resilient and increasing the likelihood of long-term success.

Redefining the Employee Experience

Similar to its effects on businesses, the pandemic created new challenges for employees. According to a Deloitte survey, 91% say they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. This is not hard to believe given new working conditions, layoffs, furloughs, heavy workloads, and, of course, the emotional stress associated with ongoing isolation from coworkers, family, and friends. As we continue to adapt to the realities of a constantly-evolving ‘new normal’, it’s imperative that HR leaders find ways to keep their employees engaged, healthy, and productive.

Consider implementing voluntary virtual social gatherings, like ‘watercooler chats’ or ‘happy hours’, where team members can catch up with each other and share non-work stories and news. You may also consider starting company-wide ‘listening sessions’, where leadership takes the time to hear and address the concerns of their employees. It’s also important to emphasize an appropriate work-life balance to combat the ‘always-on’ mindset that has arisen in the remote workforce. Highlight the importance of sticking to normal work schedules and discourage employees from checking email or working on projects outside of that time. In addressing these and other common issues, HR teams can support the mental health and wellbeing of employees, combat burnout, and bolster the overall productivity of their companies.

Transforming the Workplace

With Forrester projecting a permanent increase of 300% of pre-COVID levels, a shift to remote work is certain to have a lasting impact on the traditional idea of the workplace. Many companies have realized that they can function fully remote, eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar office spaces and the costs associated with them. However, this shift also requires an increased dependence on the technology needed to coordinate and facilitate at-home workers, like cloud infrastructure, enhanced cyber-security, virtual meeting platforms, and more.

Additionally, thanks to the development and adoption of advanced recruitment software, applicant tracking, job interviews, and other hiring processes that previously took place in the office have moved online. The increased flexibility of remote work will expand the talent pool for recruiters, allowing them to source the most qualified candidates from across the nation and the globe.

As the residual effects of our national and global circumstances in 2020 inevitably persist in 2021, businesses, and more specifically human resource leaders, must continue to transform to better meet the needs of employees. Sheakley’s Human Resource and Risk Management experts have the skills and expertise to deliver top-notch human resource solutions to meet any challenge and, if necessary, can supplement existing HR teams. Industry-leading technology tools allow for easier management of your employees’ PTO, vacation, check stubs, and W-2s. The training and on-going education opportunities Sheakley offers your supervisory staff, will ensure that the day-to-day management of your business remains compliant.

Through its long-standing partnership with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Sheakley provides Chamber members access to its dedicated team of experienced professionals and offers unique cost saving opportunities on workers’ compensation premiums and human resource and risk management support services.

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