That the pandemic accelerated digital transformation in the world of work isn’t news to any of us. Through this year, like no other, we’ve all adapted to homeschooling, remote working, socially distancing, and always masking up. And as we made big changes in our homes to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe from an invisible threat, businesses made significant changes to how they operate. Entire teams and organizations adapted to work remotely and adopted digital technologies more quickly than they had planned. HR teams became the enablers and catalysts that ensured the top two priorities for any organization were met: ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their employees while delivering client outcomes. In 2021, HR teams have an opportunity to impact companies, their people, and customers in ways we’ve never seen before.
Top HR trends for 2021
Our 60,000 ft view… and there is no rocket science here… Companies need to start looking at their employees as their greatest assets and treating them as they do their customers. And this is entirely possible by simply committing to devote similar effort, investment, and focus to the internal initiatives as we do to the external. Today, we can leverage Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) tools and other emerging technologies to analyze patterns that can flag attrition risks and boost retention. A secure AI chatbot can enable unbiased and judgment-free conversations to collate employee sentiment and tell us exactly how our employees are feeling at any given point in time and lead to better organizational health. This data-backed analysis also helps identify high-potential performers, critical to strengthening the leadership pipeline. Companies will do well to also activate a holistic experience that makes each moment that matters for existing and prospective employees be truly meaningful, from the very first exchange to regular interactions through all levels of the employee lifecycle.
Creating and fostering a culture where learning, unlearning, and relearning becomes part of the day- to-day culture will significantly impact a company by helping its employees evolve in new ways. One-size-fits-all learning programs have not worked well for us. We see the need to create opportunities that help people discover their individual skills, identify their gaps, and hone their potential through customized learning paths. We now know that our curiosity and courage can help us adapt and rise through it all, from the massive shift to virtual work, to a show of resilience like never before, and HR teams need to start prioritizing and rewarding this relentlessly curious mindset across all levels of the organization.
The model of the future will look very different from the way we’ve worked in the past, and as employee attitudes and technologies continue to evolve, we expect that some of the work traditionally done in person in an office will permanently be done in a hybrid office plus home environment. Though there are benefits to work-from-home, being social is a fundamental human need. Teams need to get together, to build new solutions and innovate, and all of this needs to be taken into account. This model will allow us to reap the benefits of a remote workforce while keeping our employees engaged and connected.
The road ahead
The one thing that the pandemic hasn’t been able to impact is our belief that curiosity, humility, and agility will make us more resilient. Curiosity and continuous learning will undoubtedly be the skills of the future and the new KPIs. The year 2021 is also a great time to open up our teams to lateral thinkers who had never wanted to conform to the restrictive 9-to-5 workday and welcome their incisive, courageous minds into the workforce.
It is essential right now for us – all of us – to ruthlessly collaborate in our relentless pursuit of a world that works better for all. And to do this, we must keep our focus centered on our people. Ensuring we have the right people delivering what we promise and giving them the growth opportunities they deserve will serve us well as we reach a new point in adapting and thriving even through a pandemic.