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HR Trends That Will Shape 2021

Picture of Faith Chukwuka

Faith Chukwuka

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The world of HR is in an uproar and Barbados has not been spared; the pandemic has sent businesses, organisations and HR professionals in Barbados into action. Human Resources Management (HRM) like every other field goes through regular changes and these changes are usually considered trends. The Covid-19 Pandemic has catapulted some changes into effect and has necessitated others. 

The Barbados Employers’ Confederation has been leading the charge since 2020; by hosting several educational webinars and training sessions to bring employers up to date with the latest HR and recruitment trends. 

Work from Home (WFH) and new WFH Policies

Working from home has been the most obvious trend created by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and is growing swiftly in 2021. 

Although some businesses already had WFH operations before the pandemic many were forced to adopt this style due to the pandemic. While policies were in place in some instances, they weren’t always the most comprehensive.

However, with the increase of WFH arrangements, it necessitated the review of existing policies and the creation of new ones. Most businesses that utilized WFH as an option weren’t prepared to do so on a full-scale level. 

You would have noticed perhaps the challenges we have faced here in Barbados versus countries like the Netherlands where it is common for companies to offer their office staff the option to have a partial WFH schedule. 

Some of the challenges facing us here are Occupational Safety and Health legislation, mental health concerns and people and performance management via digital platforms. 

The drive to WFH has created a shift in multiple HR practices including recruitment and selection. Many interviews, reviews etc are now done online. It has also created a situation where many employees have been faced with purchasing office equipment to operate from home while being unsure of reimbursement by their employers. 

Redefined employee or life experience

Employee experience is on almost every list of what is trending in HR, therefore we know that it is a key component going forward. 

Your employees are your greatest asset! When your employees are engaged, they are motivated and committed to the success of the business. They perform above par and ensure the company reaches its goals and objectives. 

Their engagement is largely due to the employee experience; therefore, employers must get that experience just right. Before the pandemic and WFH, it was easier to cultivate this experience. 

Most employees now are looking for perks like employee support programmes, mental health support services and extended pay leave for events such as quarantine. We will see companies redefine their employee and life experiences, engagement methods and benefits packages among HR trends in 2021. 

Zoom and other social platforms will become the leader in team-building exercises, as companies move from the offline to an online experience. 

Employee upskilling

Employee upskilling has been trending for a while in HR, however, a recent survey by Udemy found that the demand for upskilling grew to 38% in 2020, 20% more than in 2019. 

The reason why upskilling has become a key HR trend is that it is a sustainable and financially viable way to develop your workforce. It allows you to retain employees, build morale and cuts the cost of recruiting new employees. 

Layoffs, increased sick leave rates, and the transition to working from home were some of the challenges faced by businesses in 2020.

One way many employers are trying to work around this and stay on top of challenges stemming from the external markets is by adapting and practising agile HR. This allows them to remain competitive in the job market by implementing upskilling initiatives for their employees. 

One international firm with a local arm has done exactly that. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) invested $3 billion to upskill employees that have worked with the firm for over 3 years. 

Using People Analytics to Solve Business Problems

Just like the skills necessary for employees are changing, so too are those for the persons who hire and oversee them. HR professionals and recruiters in 2021 and beyond will need to be skilled in people analytics. Although talk of utilizing data to improve HR has been circulating for a few years, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it a necessity to implement. 

Data analytics or people analytics can be used to solve a myriad of HR and recruiting problems. It allows employers to ask the right questions such as why certain employees leave the business at higher rates than others, or what benefits would capture their ideal employee? It also allows them to pinpoint employees with the highest potential, understanding what training would be most beneficial to which employees and as a result the company. 

This can be linked directly to employee engagement as data gathered also allows employers to know whether employees or engaged or disengaged and the reasons why or why not. On March 18th the BEC facilitated a training session entitled Employee Engagement: Really Moving the Engagement Bar. Some of the topics covered showcased the need for people analytics, such as learning how to identify disengaged employees. 

The beauty of data analytics in the recruitment process for instance is that it removes biases. The data shows for example, why diverse workforces are more productive. It peels away the layers to get to the underlying causes of several HR challenges; thus, creating an opportunity for you to develop and test hypothesis and create evidence-based solutions, removing the guessing from HR. 

While you will incur the initial cost for additional software, you will benefit from reduced expenditure in the long run as HR and recruiting processes will be more efficient. 

How You Can Stay Ahead

Your business does not exist in a bubble, whatever affects your industry worldwide will inadvertently affect you. The best way to deal with the effects is by being proactive and getting ahead of the issues where possible. 

Business, physical office spaces, HR nor employees will not become extinct, however, the pre-Covid existence they once knew will no longer exist. It was said the only way forward is through and this will be the case for you as well.

Over the next five years, there will be a transformation in office space, work-life, employee recruitment and retention. Due to the small island structure of Barbados, our tourism-based economy has suffered tremendously due to the pandemic.

Collaborations, between HR practitioners and their respective employers, Information Technology companies, Architects and Real Estate agencies are possible ways you can navigate the new normal so that multiple industries benefit.

How do you see these trends impacting you? Can you see a way to incorporate them into your business? We want to know!

Emmett, Jonathan, et al. “COVID-19 and the Employee Experience: How Leaders Can Seize the Moment.” McKinsey & Company, June 2020.

Meister, Jeanne. “10 HR Trends For The Next Normal Of Work.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 Jan. 2021, www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2021/01/14/10-hr-trends-for-the-next-normal-of-work/?sh=5270c19d5fc4.

YouTube, YouTube, 20 Jan. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeOz8AwjQXU.

Staff, U2B. “4 Companies That Are Investing in Upskilling Employees in 2020.” U2B, Hybrid, 3 Sept. 2020, u2b.com/2020/08/26/4-companies-that-are-investing-in-upskilling-employees-in-2020/.

“The 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report.” Udemy for Business, Udemy Inc, 10 Nov. 2020, business.udemy.com/resources/2021-workplace-learning-trends-report/.

van Vulpen, Erik, and Neelie Verlinden. “Top 10 HR Trends for 2021 and Beyond.” AIHR Digital, 10 Dec. 2020, www.digitalhrtech.com/hr-trends/.

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