Top 10 HR Resolutions and Trends for the year 2021
If 2020 taught us anything, it is that the civic systems we rely on as a society are vulnerable and fragile. The year that went down like an insane year, probably one of the worst in history, delivered a series of previously inconceivable crises (except for those seen in movies…) that underscored dangerous cracks in our systems for ensuring health, safety, and effective governance. It was a year when “fiction” became fact.
For us in the travel industry, where customer-connect is a crucial service point, the remote working scenario was certainly a situation that needed much getting used to. 2020 has got all of us to evaluate our priorities – personally and professionally.
Something that would quickly help focus and serve as the “true north” to guide me at work and outside of it. 2020 has been an ‘eye opener’ to help us realise that we will not be able to predict what awaits us around the corner, however, your “true north” will serve you well to guide how you learn and progress.
“My “true north” for the year 2021 is Resilience”
This will guide how I operate at work and at home, how I interact with people, how I view every transaction.
Extending this to our organization, as we moved from the initial pandemic response to planning more sustainable operations, we tried to build resilience into everything, from strategy to work design, to enable the organization and our employees to sense and respond to change again and again. 2020 has proven incontestably that change is the only constant.
Here are some areas where we will focus on bolstering resilience in 2021:
At the beginning of 2020, LinkedIn had predicted that Adaptability was the number 4 skill which would be most in-demand. However, the realities of 2020 brought adaptability to the top of the most in-demand skills. In 2021, most companies will continue to look for resilient candidates who are ready to work under pressure and capable of adapting to maintain profitability. Interviewers will evaluate candidates who demonstrate the capability to acclimatise to ever-changing circumstances.
Enable Cost Optimisation
The pandemic has brought economic instability into most people’s lives. Numerous businesses faced the need to rationalise their costs and industries like ours where travel was at a standstill, saw the need for this more keenly in order to sustain. To maintain profitability and continue reviving the business we are in the process of evaluating more flexible hiring practices.
Cultivate Culture, Inclusivity and Diversity
While 2020 caused a massive shift in the way people work and businesses operate, it has also changed the position of the HR departments in the cultivation of culture, inclusivity, and diversity. While everyone around worries about health, mental state, wellbeing, financial risks, and dealing with all the other stressing factors, HR teams are required to keep calm and think of what is to be communicated to the employees by the employers. Being at the front line of this crisis, HR teams must develop relevant strategies to support this objective.
Reinventing and Enhancing Employee Experience and Engagement
Many companies invest in improving their customers’ experience, making it a top priority, and the way to gain success. We are investing the same energy in boosting our employee experience as well. HR will have to redesign the employee journey and measure the virtual employee experience.
Imagine that Anjali joins your organization. She applies, goes through the selection process, meets a few people in-person during the interview rounds, and eventually happily accepts your offer. On her first day, as part of her onboarding and new employee orientation, she comes to the office and meets her new team, and is escorted to her desk. Anjali’s manager is present too and the whole team goes for lunch to celebrate her joining the team.
Now, imagine this entire process but without all the real-life interactions. How would Anjali’s experience be if it is 100% online? Would she connect the same way with colleagues without the in-person lunch, coffees, and watercooler conversations?
Virtual engagement initiatives will go a long way in reminding employees that they are not simply working in a vacuum alone but are part of a greater team.
Upskilling, Reskilling, Cross-Skilling of employees
The present situation indicates the rising importance of moving beyond the status quo. In 2021, before searching for new talent, HR teams will focus on upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling their workforce to achieve organisation goals. It will help nurture present workforce potential and provide them with vital opportunities to grow and learn. What got us here, won’t get us there.
Home as the New Office
Though working from home had already become an increasingly common occurrence before the start of the pandemic for larger organisations, in India, there were not many organizations that had sustainable work from home policies in place — or that were ready to go fully remote in the blink of an eye. Last year, all of us were thrust into that situation and had to find our feet. WFH phenomenon is here to stay for this year and will remain an important part of how we work in the ‘hybrid workplace’ era.
A logical consequence of the increase in at-home employees (apart from a spike in office furniture sales and Zoom/Teams accounts 😊) is the push for HR to rethink many (if not all) of its practices. Activities like recruiting and onboarding are forever changed. Many HR activities have traditionally relied on in-person conversations. HR will need to reinvent current practices to effectively deal with these situations in the digital world and rely more on technology to keep us connected and updated on employee productivity.
With no watercoolers to gather around, spontaneous interactions and the collaboration, inventiveness, and innovation they result in – are surely missed. Companies will need to find suitable substitutes for this kind of communication. Virtual “Chai pe charcha” and “Happy Hours” have started to replace after-work socializing.
In the past decade, as HR we have focused a lot on what separates the generations. Perennials, Millennials, and generations X, Y, and Z have all been analysed, prodded, and speculated about extensively. Research increasingly shows that generational differences related to people’s views on work and life are not as big as we initially thought. What do people want from their working life? – purpose, good leaders, professional and financial growth — does not differ all that much from one generation to another. Instead, we expect to see an increase in Perennial mindset, as referred to by Gina Pell. They are “a group of people of all ages, stripes, and types who go beyond stereotypes and make connections with each other and the world around them.” To understand our workforce and develop our talent strategies, we should look beyond group differences and gather insights on individual employees’ interests, values, and aspirations to help us manage our people as HR and support inclusivity and diversity.
Learning & Development Agenda
In the chaos of 2020, it may have been easy to put the L&D agenda on hold while other pressing issues were dealt with. But for us, these times of change and disruption was also when training and development became the most valuable intervention to help our employees adapt to the new realities of work. It also helped sustain employee connect and engagement. We need to ensure that L&D retains its priority in 2021.
Importance of Mental Health and Well-being
Last but most definitely not the least, one of the agenda points that HR needs to drive is the importance of employees’ mental health and well-being. Ensuring that employees have a safe environment at work even in the hybrid workplace continues to remain a priority for HR professionals through 2021. Also, providing avenues to learn or explore non-functional but ‘fun’ skills is a great avenue for supporting an engaged workforce with a good work-life balance.
The pandemic and all the changes that it brought kept us thinking and seeing life from a unique perspective – more clearly. In conclusion, the goal for 2021 is to develop a motivated and inclusive workforce. 2020 has taught us to be more mindful, grateful, kind, and take care of each other. Above all, it has taught us to be resilient!