The year 2020 brought forth unprecedented changes in the working environment. You must have witnessed the surge in the notion of remote working, rise in unemployment and a spike in freelancing, part-time and contractual roles. As a result, the HR of the company has had to play an extremely crucial role in bringing about changes in the company policies, rules and regulations along with using the latest technology to respond to the changing needs of the business environment. If the year 2020 was the year of transition then the year 2021 is definitely going to revolve around the ‘employee’. It is also about how companies adopt strategies to manage, improvise and ensure the well-being of their employees.
You must be wondering about the role of HR in this period of pandemic! Well, let me put it this way. It is the HR which has played an instrumental role in handling this sudden shift in policy-making, from working in office to working from home, ensuring the well-being of employees and so forth. Hence, the role of HR has been greatly emphasised during this period and needs to be recognised and given due recognition as well which was earlier ignored. You must realise that the HR has been at the forefront in confronting these challenges and overcoming them.
What the year 2021 promises to be?
You must acknowledge that the changes introduced in the working field in 2020 are set to continue in the year 2021. The concept of remote working and use of technology for communication and collaboration is going to continue in the years to come. Moreover, the attention imparted to employee well-being, engagement and retention will remain in focus in 2021 as well. Having said that, let us go through some of the trends that will shape HR in the year 2021.
1. Remote working: The concept of remote working has almost become the ‘norm’ in 2020 and will continue to be so even in 2021. However, there are companies which are trying to bring back employees to the workplace; but how successful they would be only time can tell. Employers are worried about employee focus and productivity and employees are looking forward to having some fixed hours for remote working in their working tenure.
Basically, companies will have to find a middle path wherein they satisfy the needs of the employees as well as maintain the smooth running of their business. By now even you must have adjusted to the idea of working from home. While you get more time to spend with your family and loved ones, save time and money on commuting; you also get to enjoy flexible working hours.
It is the prime responsibility of the HR to devise such policies which fulfil the requirements of the employees and ensuring the smooth functioning of the business. The HR will have to conduct research, do a brainstorming session with the senior management and take feedback from the employees to execute the new policies especially with reference to the remote working concept.
2. Learn while working from home: In the present competitive and uncertain scenario, it is highly imperative for the employees to continuously learn while working. However, this has become somewhat difficult while working from home. When employees find their job profile monotonous, it amounts to less motivation to work. Now, this is where the role of HR becomes prominent.
One way of doing is by providing the necessary tools the employees need to search for information on their job. This will keep the employees engaged and will keep alive their quest for learning as well. Another method of imparting learning is that the HR should organise learning modules and conduct learning sessions among the employees via Zoom or Microsoft Teams Application.
3. Tremendous pressure to retain existing talented employees: Another significant HR trend that is most likely to happen in 2021 is that the employers are going to be under pressure to retain their existing talented employees. The companies and corporate houses would prefer to upskill and reskill their existing talent pool instead of hiring the new ones. This responsibility again lies with the HR department. The HR will have to prepare a list of employees who require training, design reskilling sessions and keep the team leaders informed about this programme.
4. Focus on maintaining employee well-being and mental health: The sudden outbreak of the pandemic Covid-19 highlighted the importance of employees in a big way. The employers began to value, recognise and appreciate the hard work of the employees in ways never thought of before. Moreover, as the pandemic created an uncertain environment gripped with fear and chaos, the employers also paid heed towards maintaining the well-being and mental health of their employees. The HR played a strategic role in this direction by organising online learning sessions with the employees via Microsoft Teams with the objective of diverting their attention towards development and acquiring new skills. This made the employees felt that they are valued and recognised by their employer. This will in turn give the employees a sense of security and mental ease with reference to their job.
5. Use of technology: Latest technology has acted as a saviour for the business sector in the pandemic period of 2020 and will continue to do so even in the year 2021. The pandemic has introduced a new way of working and employers are going to use technology to continue with this trend. You must be aware that the year 2020 witnessed an increase in remote working, digital recruiting and adoption of digital payroll system. All these aspects reinforced by the pandemic will continue to function even in the year 2021 facilitated by the HR.
In other words, the HR will be using the latest technology to ensure smooth functioning with fewer distractions, less errors and greater efficiency resulting in productivity.
Therefore, to conclude, the pandemic has redefined the role and importance of the HR department. The HR has been instrumental in facing the numerous challenges and providing solutions to them in the year 2020. You should also support the HR of your company so that they remain confident in carrying forward this transition smoothly in the year 2021.