6 Important HR Trends of 2021

Tendances RH 2021 Publié le 13 January 2021 Par

After a difficult and unpredictable year, company leaders and HR managers are working on ways to improve in 2021. The HR world has had to be flexible and adaptable to keep up with the rapid change that has been necessary to keep employees safe in an unprecedented time. Looking ahead into the new year, the 6 important HR trends of 2021 show just how quickly the workplace has evolved in only 12 months.

Remote work has dramatically affected almost every industry and job field. With over 20% of businesses planning to operate at least partially with remote employees into the future, it is clear the most important HR trends will all involve adapting to the virtual office. HR managers should look at this as an opportunity to devise new best practices, and ensure that some of the negative aspects of the traditional office do not take root in the virtual office.

  • Integrating Remote Employees
  • Maintaining Corporate Culture While Remote Working
  • Remote Leadership
  • Gamification
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Business
  • Flexibility

Integrating Remote Employees

Remote work is no longer just a limited perk. Instead it is the main form of working for many businesses entering 2021. Much of the past year was spent creating infrastructure and support systems to transition existing employees into remote work and work from home job roles. As virtual offices evolve into a full-time reality, companies now face the task of hiring and integrating new employees who will be working remotely. There is predicted to be a steady, if somewhat limited, economic recovery in Canada over the next year, therefore existing companies will be looking to grow and expand their staff.

Recruiting, hiring and on-boarding new employees remotely does present certain challenges. The first of which is ensuring that they have the necessary computer equipment to fulfil the role as required. HR managers should include full technical specs in a job description, such as internet speeds, webcams and VPN access, in order to ensure that all candidates meet these essential requirements. 

Training also needs to be rethought when working with remote employees, as asking for clarification or extra guidance is no longer as simple as walking over to another desk. HR managers should invest this time in creating clear and detailed training documents and materials. This way a new hire can follow a well-thought out training plan, checking in via email or video call only when needed. This will save time and prevent confusion for both HR managers and newly hired remote employees.

Maintaining Corporate Culture While Working Remotely

An increased emphasis on the culture of the workplace has been noted by HR managers for a number of years. Companies with a strong corporate culture typically have happier employees who work well together, produce better work and have more innovative ideas. It also plays a role in recruitment, with 77% of job candidates stating that they consider a company’s corporate culture before applying. New employees entering the workforce want to work in a supportive and collaborative environment where they feel that they have a voice in the organization. Ensuring that each employee feels heard becomes much more difficult when everyone is by necessity working in their own individual space.

As remote work becomes a long-term reality, or even a permanent one, for many different organizations, maintaining a strong corporate culture will be one of the important HR trends of 2021. HR managers need to immediately recognize the challenges that this situation presents, and move to address it right away. Methods to maintain community and culture include continued virtual group activities, and continuously encouraging employees to reach out and communicate with each other. 

When new employees are hired for remote work positions, it will be challenging for them to fully integrate into the company culture as they will not have the opportunity to spend the day working in the traditional office or workspace with their colleagues. HR managers must make extra effort to introduce new employees and involve them in the work team. As the economy slowly recovers throughout the year and businesses start to expand, it will be up to these new employees to maintain a strong corporate culture while working remotely.

Remote Leadership

Bad bosses make for unpleasant and ineffective work environments. Even as the traditional offices have transformed into the virtual one for a number of businesses, company leaders still have an important role to play into the success or failure of an organization. As many as 57% of people have left a previous job because of poor leadership, and this cannot continue. Remote leadership is one of the important HR trends of 2021. Leaders cannot afford to entirely disappear from the virtual office, nor can they virtually look over the shoulder of every employee at all times. Micromanagement is never effective, and if a company leader tries to micromanage remote employees this will quickly prove to be almost impossible. 

Intead, HR managers and company leaders need to work together to explore and identify the best leadership practice that translate to the virtual work environment. These include rethinking the way that leaders conduct meetings, divide up tasks, organize workflow and provide feedback. Each work environment is different, so HR managers and leaders need to decide what works best by trying different approaches and listening to employee feedback. For example, full company video meetings were initially a common feature of the virtual office before the dreaded “Zoom Fatigue” began to take hold. Now, many organizations realize that shorter meetings with smaller groups are more effective and allow for greater discussion.

Continued Gamification

Businesses have always been looking for the most efficient ways to train new employees and encourage effective working practices. The concept of gamification has grown more popular, and will continue to be one of the important HR trends of 2021. Gamification involves taking the principles behind games and similar activities and applying them to learning and working processes. The idea is to transform learning and working into a more rewarding experience.

Instead of HR managers creating long training documents for new employees to review. Gamifying the process would entail creating an interactive training program designed to challenge the new employee to solve puzzles and complete tasks in order to learn proper tools and procedures. There are software programs that make this process simple for HR managers. With the virtual office changing the way that training sessions can be conducted, it is important for HR managers to implement new methods that will help employees learn on their own, while still providing a space for feedback.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diverse workplaces are strong workplaces. Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace will continue to be the most important goal of HR managers and businesses as a whole in 2021 and beyond. When a business is made up of a group of unique individuals with their own points of view who feel respected at all times, it is far more likely that they will generate innovative ideas. Instead of getting stuck with the same limited perspectives and stale points of view, employees should always be encouraged to point out anything that has been overlooked, and use their own perspective to introduce new ideas into a workplace so that it can continue to grow.

One of the benefits of remote work and the virtual office, is that it creates a far greater job candidate pool for HR managers to draw from. Instead of being limited by geography, HR managers can recruit candidates from around the world. This makes it that much more likely that new employees will be able to offer a new perspective on how a business can reach its goals. With a diverse and inclusive workplace, employees are happier, collaboration is more fruitful and innovation becomes much easier. 

Flexibility

Perhaps the fastest growing HR trend of recent times is flexibility. The traditional office and workplace were often marred by rigidity, with employees following the same procedures at the same time to complete the same tasks the same way. As hiring and recruiting have continued to evolve, it has become clear to HR managers that flexibility is very important to most employees. This means flexibility in terms of schedules, procedures, collaboration methods and more. A recent survey found that an astonishing 80% of job applicants would turn down a job that did not offer flexible scheduling in favour of one that did.

One reason flexibility is valued by employees is that it helps them maintain a work-life balance. If they have a personal matter that needs to be attended to immediately, knowing that they can alter their work schedule to accommodate and complete their work at a later time is hugely beneficial. With the great number of people working from home, often with family members who are also adapting to different schedules, this flexibility is very necessary. 

For employees with children, for example, they will simply have to step away from the computer from time to time. Instead of insisting on rigid procedures, if HR managers encourage workers to adapt their schedules as needed, it creates a far less stressful work environment. As long as employees have input regarding deadlines and schedule creation, there is no reason the flexibility should be only a passing HR trend. If it helps employees and still results in professional goals being met, HR managers can expect flexibility to be a normal feature for many workplaces moving forward.

Workplaces in every sector and industry have been dramatically affected by the events of 2020. The 6 important HR trends of 2021 show that businesses are moving to adapt to this new reality in order to create a work environment that supports employees and allows them to perform at their best.