HR Trends - 2021 and Beyond

2020 was an eventful year with COVID-19 and we already know that 2021 won't be much different. The long term impact of COVID will be carried forward beyond 2021 and this means HR as a function needs to be prepared to tackle these challenges. The approach used to motivate workforce will need to change, there is a big quest for happiness, sustainability and more workforce are now empowered to start their own business like never before (There has been a record number of startups registered in the UK since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic).

Below are the key trends that i feel will define HR as a function and discipline in the years to come.
HR Trend 2021

1.  Borderless or siteless talent attraction
Location strategy needs to be rethinked. The concept of off-shore, on-shore, near-shore will inevitably change when we come out of the pandemic. We will have a more global workforce than we ever thought was possible. Organisation need not have physical office to hire employees in a city anymore, this opens up lot of opportunity like tapping into new talent, but also challenges like keeping team spirit, taxation  omplication, etc.
2. Remote Working and work from anywhere
I dont need to explain anything more here as we are all living the remote working world now. Office timing will become irrelevant and we will see lot of employees wanting to split their working time to support homeschooling, etc. This will refine the way employee worked in the past leading to 'work from anywhere'.
3. Gig work and renting talent
We will see an influx of gig work like hiring for specific project beyond borders. Hiring based on needs will become popular as the talent marketplace is much wider than that we had access in the past. Startups and medium sized organisatin will be able to make as shift into this faster using fiverrupwork, etc, howver big enterprise needs to think through this to stay competitive.
4. Life experience management
In 2020 we spoke a lot about employee experience and how we create consumer like experience. With the line between work and home getting blurred day by day, we will see more focus on life experience management like how organisation can support working from beach, working while homeschooling, etc. This is a space that will evolve to supplement mental and physical wellbeing needs of the workforce. Mental health and wellbeing will take a centre stage and will  become a focus area in the life experience management.
5. Learning focussed culture beyond generations
Generations and demographics played an important role is HR and work technology design in the past. This will become less relevant as all employee are expected to learn new ways that is something no generation can claim as their own. There will be a need to constantly learn how to sell/market/operate in virtual world and technology will play a key role in defining this. Tech savviness is not an aspirational skill, instead it will be become basic life skills.
6. Quest for Happiness
Motivating a whole lot generation to perform at their best has been an area HR played a pivotal role. Innovative Compensation and benefits, talent management all played a key role to meet this requirement. In the future we will see strong focus on happiness as the key measurement for retention and attraction of employees.  There will be need to be more focus on personalised approach to working, allowing job crafting etc. to ensure the workforce remain motivated and performing. Time is not far us to start thinking about appointing 'Chief Happiness Officer'
7. Reverse urbanisation
You dont need to move your family into Newyork or London to grow your career anymore. More and more employees will realise the need to be closer with their family and stay in villages/small towns and still fulfilling all their career aspiration in virtual world. Salary comparison based on where you live, global mobility, etc. will become not so important suddenly.
8. Exponential digitalisation and data/analytics potential
Every organisation will push boundaries to explore technology automation , experience enhancing opportunities. HR Service delivery will be focussed on self service, paperless forms and virtual shared services. The more we are on our computer means the more data is generated and possibility of advanced data analytics opens up. HR will start to use more unstructured data points to enhance work in general including how we often we use computers/mobile, what timing we work, how many meetings we attend.
9. Purpose driven and sustainable businesses 
Being sustainable and contributing to the society are basic expectations from businesses these days. With more investors looking for sustainable investment and new financial philosohies being looked at  as part of ESG ( Environmental Social and corporate Governance) framework, we will see being sustainable will be a basic ask for businesses inorder for them to survive in the new world.
10. Virtually build Culture
HR function will have to go that extra mile to keep company culture active in virtual environment or even shift the culture to cope with the new reality world has thrown to us. New culture will be build virtually and this will be a different experience for all.

2021 will be different and the changes we see in 2021 are here to stay. HR function need to stay on top of these trends to build a performing and sustainable organisation. It is not "how much you sell" that will drive your organisation growth, but "how you motivate your workforce to sell and help others". HR will take a centre stage in board room and i am looking forward to see more CHROs taking CEO roles in the coming decade.


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