The pandemic’s impact on HR trends 2021
The COVD-19 pandemic altered our lives in significant ways, sending us into a new mindset called “social distancing” — staying at home and avoiding crowds. This one event threw traditional HR trends to the curb. In its wake, employee onboarding and employee engagement emerged as make-or-break dilemmas in HR departments throughout the US. A realization dawned that the employee experience was changing dramatically, as was the employee lifecycle in many instances. To say that HR trends were undergoing a kind of metamorphosis would be understating the case. Indeed, HR analytics that track the employee journey and employee satisfaction began generating mind-bending change indicators never before experienced in such a short time frame.
Businesses that were slow to adjust saw rampant infections spread amongst the staff, creating severe disruption. State and city regulations called for bars, restaurants, and gyms to close their doors to contain the virus. Malls and airports overnight resembled ghost towns, and companies started laying off employees in bucket loads. Employee feedback was tainted with negativity, uncertainty, and severe stress.
Innovative thinkers shaped the HR trends we see in 2021
Management teams that thought things through radically adjusted their HR strategies. For example, law firms connected quickly to working remotely as a viable option. They were one of the first to send their partners and associates home to deal with clients via Zoom and the internet.
Freelance work through sites like Upwork went through the roof. Organizations realized that remote employment — COVID-19 or not — allowed them to cut down on office rent, entertainment, hospitality, and air tickets. Outside contractors engaged and exited without sick leave, maternity leave, building up vacation time, and health benefits — all impactful overhead items.
On the other hand, it pushed IT expenditure up as companies grappled with the challenge of interconnecting home offices. HR trends were veering off at ninety-degree angles, waking everyone up to the impact of a severe lifestyle shift. The massive B2B category took to this system change like a duck to water. Management realized that traditional one-on-one office meetings were out with travel down to a trickle. In any event, most buyers had left the company premises.
As vaccinations start rolling, one should cast an eye to the future to see if we will go back to the old ways. It’s naïve to believe that the traditional HR trends won’t try to retrieve old ground — make a comeback if you will. Even if so, the pandemic was a seismic black swan event that people cannot shrug off overnight. No, the HR trends 2021 affecting industries across the country have demonstrated a staying power that’s likely to last for years to come.
The digital era’s impact on HR trends
The COVID-19 effects above, particularly the shift in HR trends toward remote working, wouldn’t have been possible without internet connection, cloud technology, and virtual communications. Springboarding off digitization, companies have to find a way to maintain and enhance employee performance. They need to bolster the employee experience irrespective of the volatility the health crisis has imposed on us.
One of the most crucial considerations in human resources experience management is how to maintain 360-degree employee feedback and engaged communication. Businesses that take their HR strategy seriously often refer to it as multi-source or multi-rater feedback assessment. Today, it essentially depends on website feedback. They use the internet to give this methodology legs, embracing employees working in locations far and wide. A well-organized website feedback system allows managers to receive and provide clear employee performance overviews with less bias and more inclusivity. To reiterate, reliance on IT either in-house or through contractors has become indispensable.
From the employees’ view of things, they want to know how they’re doing. Not coming into the office regularly and interacting with people can quickly morph into an “I’m forgotten” syndrome. More than ever, the employee experience is aligning closely with their technology experience, highlighting the following:
- The company’s website has, by and large, replaced the office, much like an online store has pushed brick-and-mortar retailing to the backbenches. As such, website feedback and two-way communication channels are integral to the organization’s health.
- Seamless business continuity depends on IT reconfiguring its technology footprint with the website as its intelligence center. All applications, tutorials, Zoom (or similar) conference connections, podcasts, schedules, agendas, and more, work through a cloud-based website.
- Collaboration between teams doesn’t end just because people are remote from one another. Website feedback keeps team members on the same page, in sync with others, and engaged with the relevant sense of urgency.
- Again, employee onboarding, training, and induction into teams under these new conditions would be an impossibility without cutting-edge multidimensional website feedback accessible to all.
- Another notable HR trend energized by website feedback is accelerating pulse surveys to get a good reading on how much stress and pressure disrupt performance. This insight highlights the touchpoints in the employee journey holding things up and possibly contributing to employee churn. Responsible managers are finding that pulse surveys are an ideal barometer when staying in touch physically isn’t in the cards.
The new HR trends are highlighting some surprising things
Tradition and the “old ways of doing things” have evaporated into thin air. The new work system cut that all out in one fell swoop. For example, take the recruit used to interviewing in-office, shaking hands, going for a drink with the new team — flowers on the desk perhaps, some light gossip. A lunch celebration on the day of his or her arrival. So, what can HR do to replace it? Employees’ website feedback suggests that they expect HR management to continue:
- Building a corporate culture of togetherness.
- Initiating ideas like virtual happy hours to replace socializing with workmates.
- Arranging regular team conferences over Zoom with networking opportunities online.
- Providing job shadowing on a digital basis.
- Redesigning the employee journey and measuring the adjusted employee experience for satisfaction.
- Creating a digital HR platform to optimize processes by connecting seamlessly to social media, mobile analytics, and cloud-based technologies.
- Empowering the corporate culture, talent practices, structures, and processes to be agile, flexible, and innovative in an environment expected to remain volatile and unconventional.
- Maintaining work-life balance, staff wellbeing, team connection, and inter-departmental collaboration.
That’s a tall order for anyone. If companies want to stem employee churn — indeed create loyalty — it’s essential to innovate a new HR mindset. The bottom line is that the HR trends show us that staffing strategies disconnected from online technologies and digital communications are dead in the water. The remote working system has arrived with a bang and has no intention of exiting with a whimper.
The latest HR trends and training
No look at the post-COVID-19 HR trends can be complete without addressing employee education while on the job. This is where digital tools kick in with steroids to establish a smooth road forward in project completions. Team members working remotely can tune into arranged zoom training sessions, or at their leisure, to videos or podcasts. YouTube postings in singles or a series of lessons help to cover ground.
It’s HR’s function to establish the training needs of teams and individuals throughout the company, that will:
- Keep the employees advancing to the next level or their maximum competency.
- Fill skill gaps as they emerge.
The most crucial need is to build a resource pool that’s easily accessible to all participants online that provides:
- Fast responses to training requests.
- The digital know-how for integrating new training into the system.
- Auto-monitoring of training usage (i.e., who used it, when, for how long).
- Reviewing the program menu and removing programs no longer applicable.
Employees in the 2020s have found a new dimension of freedom, spending more time with family and post-vaccination with friends. If this gets out of hand, it can cut into legitimate work time, particularly the window provided for upgrading skills. It means that virtual employee reviews with website feedback are firmly in the mix. To make sure things remain on track, it’s crucial for two-way communications to:
- Focus on performance.
- Keep reminding employees about upgrading their knowledge.
When everyone resided in an office building, the training processes outlined above were relatively simple. Without technology at one’s fingertips, the remote working scenario would be an HR nightmare. Thankfully the apps and virtual channels across all the verticals within the online space have enabled HR professionals to get a firm grip on solving the new challenges. With the company website functioning in part or whole as the office, HR can map out the best digital route for enhancing employee retention and company profitability.
Looking ahead: HR trends in 2021 and beyond
Sogolytics is at the front of the changes that hit us all in March 2020. They have the in-depth resources to address company transitions dictated by the HR trends and website feedback. As a recognized employee experience consultant versed in employee journey mapping, they are ready for any questions or issues clients may have. Sogolytics is the go-to company for surveys, setting up a training library, or the latest bridging technologies to close daunting gaps in the remote workplace.