Through the course of 2020, employers made difficult decisions to navigate COVID-19. In fact, HR leaders have confronted more challenges this past year than ever before. The anticipated impacts of COVID in 2021 have made it clear that it may not be smooth sailing for the foreseeable future. In order for an organization to weather the storm, HR leaders and organizations will need to face their challenges with agility and resilience.
What better way to stay resilient than by understanding the challenges on the horizon? Here are a few HR predictions to help you prepare for 2021.
Maintaining a Consistent Remote Workforce
According to the World Economic Forum, the percentage of remote workers will rise from 16.4% before the outbreak to 34.4% during the pandemic. Additionally, a survey conducted in 2020 by Global Workplace Analytics found that 76% of global employees want to continue to work from home at least two days a week.
As organizations shift to a larger sustained remote workforce, they will need to explore the critical competencies employees will need to collaborate digitally. In order to be successful, employers will need to be prepared to adjust employee experience strategies. This may involve changes in how to implement performance goal setting and employee evaluations for a larger remote workforce.
Focus on Data-driven Insights
As more employees work remotely due to the pandemic, employers will need to invest in tools to help them assess their employee productivity and engagement. Employers will need to develop solutions to ensure employees are hitting their targets while maintaining an environment that places a priority on mental health and wellbeing. By developing and adopting tools to measure productivity and wellbeing, organizations will gain better insights to improve workplace conditions and to make smarter hiring decisions.
Re-introducing Planned HR Initiatives in the Face of Economic Uncertainty
Uncertainty is daunting for an organization. The feeling of not knowing what measures to take to sustain organizational operations is a significant challenge. HR leaders are faced with the task of responding to crises and developing effective strategies and measures despite this uncertainty. Throughout the course of the pandemic, companies have been forced to streamline costs which included placing planned HR initiatives on the backburner. However, moving forward post-pandemic, they will need to re-evaluate their initiatives and implement accordingly.
Managing Employee Mental Health
The rapid shift from onsite to remote work culture took a toll on employee mental health and wellbeing. While stress, anxiety, and depression have always been present, COVID-19 has placed employee wellness in the spotlight. When employees are working in an office setting, employers have a basic understanding of the pulse of their team, which helps to spot any potential mental health concerns. HR in 2021 will need to develop new strategies and solutions to support their employees as they continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future.
Fulfilling Diversity and Inclusion Responsibilities
2020 marked a global movement for social justice and inclusion. In 2021 companies will be expected to account for the social movements emerging around the globe. Moving forward, HR will need to place an increased emphasis on creating a diverse and inclusive workforce by developing robust strategies to effectively implement diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Remote Hiring and Onboarding
COVID-19 has caused a great deal of economic uncertainty, causing many employees to lose their jobs. Additionally, this uncertainty has caused companies to reconsider their hiring and workforce planning models. Freelance or contract employees provide employers with more flexibility in terms of hiring and managing their workforce. In 2021, this means HR will need to allocate additional resources to attracting freelance or contract workers.
HR will also need to navigate hiring and onboarding new employees virtually to comply with social distancing guidelines. Virtual hiring and onboarding introduce a new set of challenges to navigate for HR departments, such as:
- Virtually interviewing and assessing a candidate’s skills
- Screening potential employees who are ideally suited for remote work
- Communicating company culture during the virtual recruitment and training process
Facing the Challenges of 2021
Although it was challenging in unprecedented ways, 2020 was a year that placed the agility, resiliency, adaptability, and importance of HR at the forefront on the conversation. By preparing and facing the challenges of 2021 head-on, organizations will be able to conquer any challenges that come their way.