Let’s spare a thought for everyone who wrote 2020 predictions about HR, L&D, and anything else. Very few people could have predicted the disruption that the COVID pandemic would have caused, and now its influence is set to continue into next year.
The 2021 HR trends we expect to see can all be linked back to the pandemic and how it will re-shape the new working world.
1. Remote working and learning – 2021 are going to be about finding the middle ground and a remote approach that works for everyone. For that to happen there are a few rumples to iron out. There are plenty of employee perks to remote working – flexible schedules, no traveling, and more free time to spend with loved ones. So, if working from home advocates can influence the productivity and focus issue, everyone will be happy.
Most of the HR professionals believe the move to working remotely has caused “E-presenteeism”, employees feeling the need to be online and available as much as possible. On average, an employee at home was spending an extra 28 hrs working each month from lockdown onwards. The Microsoft team’s data shows more people communicating with colleagues on weekends and you can realize the challenge leaders and employees have in establishing remote boundaries between work and life.
Those who are going to opt for an entirely remote working approach will have to consider technology and equipment needs for employees as they shape their permanent home setup. If the week is going to be split between home and the office. Then, there will be a logical decision around having a fixed office or something more flexible.
The major constraints will be communication, collaboration, and learn in a remote working world. The biggest question for 2021 should be: if we can’t get together in person, what is the next best option?
2. Diversity, equity, and inclusion – It is been on the trends list for the past few years, but with 2020 shining a limelight on a raft of issues around diversity, it’s likely that 2021 could be the biggest year for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
According to the World Bank, gender equality at workplaces could help the global economy to the tune of £120 trillion, While McKinsey discovered that more gender and ethnic diversity in teams can drive profitability by 21% and 33%, respectively.
There will be further concerns for leaders and HR in 2021. The challenge of maintaining and establishing company cultures when employees are working disparately. How will you make sure employees feel included and connected when they are apart?
A changing workplace will lead companies to look at diversity in many senses, like the diversity of thought, working experiences, personalities, and education. And it’s likely to start with analysis: what does that data say about the current workforce? What’s missing? And how are they going to address that in 2021?
3. Employee wellbeing and mental health – Only 51% of employees feel comfortable talking about mental health at work and this is pre-COVID data, working remotely and uncertainty of job security makes it worse.
The solution is to monitor patterns in their moods, sleep, and general health with the help of the app, and offering content to coach and guide employees through these issues.
Another is to focus on employee development. The best way to comfort those fears are to put someone on a track to development and learning new skills, screening them that they’re valued and there’s a vision for their future in the company.
We should probably inspire to think outside the box too, to get creative and make sure employees are connecting with their peers and enjoying work. Lockdown has shown us that necessity is the mother of social invention, the companies creating challenges and leader boards to cocktail and doughnut decorating classes. The same kind of energy will be required in 2021.
4. Learning-in-the flow of work – How long do you think people spend time searching for information every day?
In 2012, McKinsey specified that employees spent 1.8 hours searching for information every day, by 2015 it had risen to 2.5 hours. And then the research trace tails off a little, then there was an article on a 2019 survey that employees spend 25% of their day searching for information every day.
The employees are wasting a lot of time checking emails, getting tea/coffee, and snakes when they are meant to do their jobs. How are they going to do it productively? The solution is gaining back all that wasted time by allowing people to learn as they work, to provide them the tools to find whatever information they need when they need it.
5. Data-driven strategies – HR teams are more likely to lean on data as they make their decisions. For a lot of the reasons, more employees will work remotely, and that means HR teams face the challenges of introducing the company culture, recruiting the right people, and providing them the tools to be productive.
Budgets are changing, workforces are changing. So, decision-makers need a more conclusive strategy to buy products and solutions. It’s as simple as the idea that you can’t claim with the facts. If you’re presenting a convincing case for why a learning platform helps a smaller team shelter lost skills or why a particular app will drive productivity and engagement. you’ll certainly need data to support your points.
The 2020 everyone’s just gone through, the pressure’s actually on to get it right in 2021. Don’t act off predisposition, not until you’ve understood the data.