Top Workplace Trends to watch out for in 2021
The year 2020 was unlike any other, filled with predictions and inferences. If anything, it upended business models and drastically transformed the way we work. Priorities and plans changed as the world grappled with one of the worst health crises ever. HR leaders were forced to rethink workforce management with employee well-being, health, and safety becoming the utmost priority. Not all changes are new, and the pandemic has accelerated some, but one thing is sure. These evolving trends will continue to shape the future of work as HR continues to navigate the complex workforce challenges and adapt to the rapidly changing times.
Top Trends in 2021
A Shift towards Remote Work Culture
One of the most striking or rather drastic effects of the pandemic for HR was the overnight shift towards remote work as various state governments imposed lockdown to curb the Covid 19 virus. Even though the concept of remote work isn’t new, it was a privilege reserved only for big multinationals. However, as time passed, both employers and employees realized the benefits associated with remote work.
The HR team had to adapt and manage a sudden drift in policy where most teams and departments would work from different locations without disrupting the collaboration on project management. By investing in and implementing remote work software, many organizations adopted a seamless transition from office to work from home policy.
While employees saved time and money on office commutes, enjoyed flexible working hours, and achieved better work-life balance, employers, on the other hand, experienced significant cost savings in terms of maintaining the office set-ups, asset management, and much more. From government-mandated lockdowns, companies soon shifted to a full-time work-from-home model wherever possible.
For instance, global giants like Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, etc., made remote work a permanent part of the policy and allowed all those whose job profiles did not require them to be in the office to work from home indefinitely. Come 2021, an IBM survey reported that around 80% of workers said they’d like to continue working remotely at least occasionally post-pandemic, while another 58% revealed that they wanted remote work to be their primary way of working. Of course, you don’t expect all companies to go fully remote; it is evident that remote work is here to stay, and you can expect this to continue beyond 2021 and become an essential part of the work culture. Some organizations are considering a combination of both remote work and on-site work.
Redefined Employee Engagement and Experience
Employee experience is defined as an employee’s perception of their journey in an organization right from joining through to the exit. Positive employee experience boosts productivity, improves satisfaction, leads to greater loyalty, and impacts company culture. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employee experience has taken on a new meaning as HR now has to measure the employee experience virtually.
A powerful employee engagement software has been used by many companies to develop informal ways of team-building and socialization online as in-person interactions are now technology-based. Organizations are now looking at employee experience strategies that focus on online training and upscaling employee wellness, and mental health initiatives like wellness programs, mental health awareness sessions, child care benefits, flexible work schedules, and paid time off. In short, the employee experience initiatives would now be geared towards reminding employees that they aren’t alone working in a silo but are a part of the bigger team and a broader vision.
HR at the Helm of all Changes
The pandemic acted as a catalyst as businesses underwent profound changes in operating. On the other hand, workers face significant difficulties as they have to battle with health & safety concerns of their family, juggle child care responsibilities and deal with job insecurities as a lot of businesses face an existential threat. As the leadership worries about communication, compliances, and modeling company values, HR is left to do the balancing act of facilitating employees, addressing their concerns, supporting them, and handling business requirements. The future is uncertain for both the organizations and employees. The onus is on HR to leverage technology to adapt to the changing times, adjust business practices, and provide innovative solutions to employees to work as they enter the new normal.
The Rise of HR Tech (People Analytics/Data-Driven Insights)
With the majority of the employees working remotely, businesses need to focus more on staying connected with the workforce. It is here we see a huge rise in the investment in the top HR cloud-based systems that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Key facilities like - tracking employee schedules, monitoring performances, improving online communication and collaboration, with a common dashboard for managers and HR, enable effective decision making and automated hiring and onboarding experience. Plus, HR technology has become critical now as it is a win-win solution for both employees and employers. Investment in data analytics software will increase in 2021 and beyond as companies rely on data-driven insights to solve hiring decisions, attrition rates, performance management, and employee engagement issues. AI-powered software will increase skill development, sourcing, screening of talents, employee engagement, etc.
Rise of e-Learning
With escalating remote work culture, and technological supremacy, more and more companies are looking for innovative ways to deliver online learning solutions to employees. Companies worldwide are considering new technologies, like E-Learning Software to provide training to their employees, from instructor-led online video courses, podcasts, introducing gamification to the use of AR/VR for practical, real-life scenario-based training. Further, applied learning is gaining prominence with the talent shortage and skill gap getting more intense amidst rapid transformations and increasing competencies. Companies also find it more efficient to train and upskill their existing workforce and make them job-ready to face the challenges.
The Surge in the Gig Economy
The economic uncertainty of the pandemic forced many employees to turn to the gig economy. As workers were rendered jobless and organizations were left with no choice but to cut costs to survive, the turn to the gig economy was inevitable. The most significant advantage is the flexibility it offers both to workers and businesses. The organizations enjoy better scalability and increased cost savings as they can scale up and down when the situation demands. According to Gartner, 32% of organizations replaced full-time workers with contractual ones as a cost-saving measure. On the other hand, workers enjoy flexibility in working hours and the types of jobs that they can take up.
The New Normal
As businesses prepare for the post-COVID world, the new normal continues to shift. Some companies consider returning to the office, while others consider allowing employees to work from home at least part-time. At the same time, few others have allowed employees to work from home indefinitely. This gives rise to a Hybrid work environment where employees can enjoy the best of both worlds, like; office for collaborations and brainstorming sessions, while remote work for tasks that need to be performed individually.
Also, if there is anything that the COVID-19 crisis has taught us, it is the fact that adapting to that uncertainty is the only way to survive and thrive in this competitive market. Several employees lost their jobs during the pandemic, several businesses had to close down operations, and several others had to reconsider their business models. This gave rise to a fluid workforce or gig economy with freelance or contract positions that give companies the flexibility in terms of hiring, and workers have less of a risk of income or job loss as they no longer have all their eggs in one basket. Studies prove that the concept of a fluid workforce is gaining ground and is here to stay as more and more companies are replacing full-time employees with freelance or contract workers to cut costs. However, how HR would adjust employee monitoring and performance management systems to apply to this section of the workforce remains to be seen.
No business area is left untouched by the pandemic, and hiring and recruitment are no exception. The rise in remote work and significant productivity from remote employees have opened new horizons for the organization. Now companies are no longer restricted by geography and can cast a broader net to hire workers from all corners of the world.
A lot has changed in the last 1.5 years and continues to change. As you adapt to the changing times, be certain that workplace trends will continue to evolve, and new trends will emerge. The impact of digitization and advanced remote work tools is currently enabling employers to increase efficiency and improve team collaboration. Pre-vetted hiring is gaining ground as it helps HR save time on sourcing and screening and accelerate the hiring process.
The new normal is riddled with incertitude and change. That can only be countered with an agile mindset where the leadership is willing to adapt their existing processes and structures. The need of the hour is a forward-thinking business model that emphasizes the learning and development of its workforce and the organization to create a sustainable culture. The new normal isn’t going to be just a work environment that maximizes the productivity of the workers, but, also the one that maximizes the health, safety, and well-being of everyone concerned.
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Remote working during the pandemic has become a need. In fact, according to several surveys conducted by different companies - many people prefer working remotely, citing ... continue reading