Effective HR Trends for 2021

The solution will not lie in returning to pre-COVID working practices. Instead, there will be a heightened focus on how to enhance collaboration, culture, and innovation, while fostering a greater sense of belonging and accommodating individual styles, personalities, and team dynamics.


The events of 2020 have propelled the field of HR forward reversing some trends, making big shifts, and most importantly creating an opportunity for rethinking and resetting how we design work practices that best serve all employees, our companies, and each other. The solution will not lie in returning to pre-COVID working practices. Instead, there will be a heightened focus on how to enhance employee engagement, productivity, collaboration, culture, and innovation, while fostering a greater sense of belonging and accommodating individual styles, personalities and team dynamics.

1. Redefinition of the workspace: It is not anymore about reporting to "work" in the morning and going back "home" in the evening. The virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past, setting in motion a structural shift in where work takes place, at least for some people. This calls for creating a hybrid workplace model where employees come to the office only as needed.

2. Flexibility takes center stage: Flexible workforces will become the new norm. The experience of working during the pandemic has provided useful insights into the possibility of successfully contracting knowledge work to external freelancers. Additionally, the learnings from the pandemic have helped us resolve several challenges with respect to remote work. With these challenges resolved, whether a remote worker is full-time or a freelancer will be a basic business decision.

3. HR practices being revisited: A drastic and rapid move to formalise remote work will call for dynamic solutions to support the new way work gets done. Be it employee engagement or performance management, managers and C-suite executives must consciously carry usual business practices — such as team catch-ups, public recognition, and one-on-one support — into a virtual office environment. Managers will also be called upon to focus on performance metrics such as monitoring positive feedback, conversion rate, gathering 180-degree feedback, weekly project deliverable say-do etc.

4. Rethink the employee experience: The digital workplace will evolve further, creating an omni-channel environment where both the tangible and intangible elements of the office are brought to the employee in digital form. Social tools will provide areas for employees to come together and interact – huddles, team gatherings etc. Employees will increasingly demand greater action from employers in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce, and continue to pay close attention to culture and social responsibility. Any future vacancies will consider broadening their talent pool to a more global and inclusive perspective increasing the rate of high talent employee acquisition.

5. Employee expectations will be re-evaluated: In 2021, employees will want jobs that are personally rewarding. They will expect their workplaces to define their purpose and then follow through to make it a reality. Well-being initiatives will become an essential part of an organization's ammunition – not only for attracting and retaining talent but also for demonstrating a commitment to employees’ health and safety. Physical and mental health, together with financial, social, and occupational well-being, all play an integral part in employees' overall well-being. Organizations that invest in supporting their employees' well-being will see strong returns on their investments.

6. L&D - a growth imperative: Employees will also be looking for support to help them adapt, upskill and grow, amid changing working conditions; therefore providing access to relevant learning and development to foster their growth will become critical. Besides employees will be looking for remote access to information relevant to them as well as the opportunities and encouragement to share their ideas on maintaining a sense of community.

7. Digitization - a core enabler: While the progression toward digitalization was well underway, COVID-19 accelerated most organizations’ plans to digitize their workplace to ensure employees were fully enabled with the tools they needed to stay productive. Improving efficiency, effectiveness, and analytics are critical and we will have no choice but to embrace technology and be data-driven. IT and HR will work together to prioritize not only listening to and understanding employees' technology needs but also bridging the gap to overcome technology experience challenges.

8. Workplace Safety takes on new dimensions: Employee safety on the work floor has always been a priority for every manufacturing organization. But in light of the pandemic, work floor safety has taken on new significance and transcended the traditional, with enhanced safety precautions such as social distancing measures on the production floor, strict sanitization protocols, close monitoring of who enters of exits all facilities etc.

(This article includes inputs form Jayakanthan R, Director - People & Strategy, Corporate HR, Elgi Equipments)


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