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HR trends in 2021: Influencer Insights

Author: Kamil Ahmed

2021 has hit the ground running, leaving little room for workplaces to reflect on the past and strategize for the future. We connected with some HR influencers to get their take on what HR trends to expect in 2021.

A New Era for HR

Headshot of Karam Tawfiq for 2021 HR Trends

An increase in Zoom accounts and virtual happy hours are not the only changes brought to us by remote work realities. HR as an industry is being pushed to rethink its practices, which results in several emerging HR trends.

Senior HR Leader Karam Tawfiq reflects on the sentiments behind some of these trends. “We learned in 2020 that companies could work remotely to accommodate the needs of the ever-changing landscape. In 2021, as we continue into the pandemic, we must continue to prioritise our people. As organizations, we are tied and bound by our objectives and key results, but we must remember that our people make up who we are.”

Core HR activities like onboarding, performance management, and firing decisions are no longer anchored by in-person opportunities. Additionally, with the growth of remote work comes distanced work teams, presenting new challenges to people management. HR has to work to change the structure and dynamics within organizations. Informal interactions between employees and the collaboration, creativity and learning they produced are missing. 

“2021 is the year we continue to focus our energy on engaging employees in remote work and considering how we can offer them new benefits as we push through this pandemic”, says Tawfiq. 

Employee Wellness: A Business Priority 

Headshot of Lauren Baptiste for 2021 HR Trends

The ways in which employees are showing up for and completing work looks different. So should the ways in which employees are supported and compensated, says Lauren Baptiste, Founder and Chief Well-being officer at Acheloa Wellness. After a challenging and lean year, when it comes to salary and bonus, 2021 must be the year where employer support for all forms of wellness becomes the standard of benefits given to employees. 

With over 10 years of experience in the corporate and wellness industries, Lauren reflects on her Executive Wellness Coaching firm and what she’s seeing. “I equate the phases of this pandemic to the changing seasons. First there was shock, then denial, and now I am seeing more readiness. Now that we’re in a new year, the hope is for a true understanding of burnout, mental health and employee resilience not just as factors for organizational success but as the factors.”

“Put wellness at the forefront of your business strategy,” says Baptiste. “A lot of times, we think of wellness as a ‘nice to have’ for employees (which is true) but in reality, it’s actually saving your company money. It’s improving margins and reducing revenue loss as a result of the significant cost of employee turnover and training.” 

“Employees must expect more because they’re being asked to do more.”

Skills over Everything

Headshot of Grego Vari for 2021 HR Trends

Where dips in unemployment in the past left job seekers to pursue service-oriented work to pay the bills, the playing field for job seekers looks quite different now says Gergo Vari, CEO & Founder of U.S based job search platform Lensa

“Whole industries are affected, so people are having to really think about what it is that they can do. Are there other industries I have skills for? Are there opportunities that have not been negatively affected by the pandemic where I could apply myself that I would not have considered previously? In some ways, COVID-19 has highlighted the significance of what we do here at Lensa, which is matching skills with opportunities.” 

Vari further nuances the change in the way job seekers seek and fulfill work by pointing to the consistent rise of the gig economy. “It’s a groundbreaking trend for the past 5 years where I have definitely not seen a decline. In response, we’re actually posting gigs as independent job opportunities. We call them ‘flex-jobs’. According to UpWork, 57.3 million people freelance in the U.S. and it’s estimated that by 2021 there will be 86.5 million freelancers. With the knowledge that many freelancers appreciate the work-style due to personal circumstances such as health and caregiving duties that inhibit them from traditional jobs, it’s not hard to understand why the gig economy is on an upward trajectory. 


Train for the marathon, not the sprint

Gone are the days where people leaders were focused on a single magic number for diversity success. With progress being made at a pace slower than what we used to consider “normal”, people leaders are exploring quarter-over-quarter progress in several aspects of DEI. Prioritizing the establishment of infrastructure and support for measuring DEI over the course of several cycles is a good place to start and enables critical data collection that should inform workplace DEI goals. 

DEI data that drives action

The business case for diversity, equity and inclusion is becoming less prevalent in workplace conversations as leaders move into defining metrics for success and spend less time communicating the ‘why’ behind DEI. 

Some trends include an interest in dissecting workplace representation of women and BIPOC folks more than just once a year to identify critical shifts, especially during times of workplace uncertainty. Secondly, conversations around diversity in 2020 also scrutinized representation at the leadership level, demanding companies and organizations to value diversity in leadership. Finally, with fewer to no opportunities for informal catch-ups and social engagement opportunities, leaders are looking to engagement surveys to facilitate the ongoing collection of insights from employees, and more of those insights are revolving around workplace diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Make 2021 count

Whether you’re looking to establish DEI infrastructure, garner support, identify DEI metrics of success, set-up engagement surveys, or maybe all of the above — let Lunaria’s software and advisors be your complete DEI solution.

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