SIX (RELATIVELY) NEW THINGS FOR HR TO PONDER IN 2021

In 2020, many of the rules of work changed. What was considered impractical and unworkable suddenly became the norm. Companies were forced to learn how to rethink their practices.

Home offices became the rule and no longer the exception — and new ways of working had to be either adapted from the usual, or created from scratch. Some will continue to be a challenge for companies in general and HR in particular. Others will require some specific focus.

The flexible workplace

I offer no obvious solutions, only things to consider — and first up is the fact that the new-normal (despite the oft-used phrase) is anything but. It is a stepping stone to a next stage — which could be a destination or a temporary resting place. But one thing is for sure, company-wide solutions are needed for home and remote work. 

HR need to ask themselves, what do my employees need to be able to work well remotely? And how do I continuously ensure that teams stay together? 

The key challenge for HR is: enabling flexibility, then controlling and implementing it with creativity in a way that is employee-centric. Never before has this aspect of HR been a core competence.

Engagement from afar

How can a motivating and compelling corporate culture be maintained if the office is no longer central to the experience? If the employee does not hear from their employer (apart from work instructions) and colleagues for a long time, the ‘social cement’ is lost. 

I’m not suggesting an overhaul of the company’s culture — but it should be consciously revisited in the context of remote working, and reframed accordingly.

Data

Yes, this has been a topic for some while now, but data is about to come Big Data. It’s not about collecting it, but about how to best gain value from it. Linking and evaluating all available data and deriving insights and recommendations for action from it is key. 

This is because decisions should be substantiated with tangible figures. And if you can turn those decision-making points into automated ones, so much the better.

Resourcing

First and foremost, it is fair to say that, in 2021, fewer people will be hired. Which does not take the pressure off — but instead intensifies it. After all, how do you ensure the hires are the best for the company?

Are your practices contemporary? Do they match and promote your 2021 culture and working practices? And that’s not just about the employer bond, but the process candidates have to navigate. What does a clunky and impersonal experience say about working virtually for your company?

HR as a (permanent) change agent

The world of work is changing rapidly. Company transformations used to happen once a lifetime, and people with change experience were brought in, used and then exited. But change is definitely the way of working now and people that know what to do when companies crack and wobble should be retained — not seen as a luxury. Pragmatic crisis managers and change professionals are needed — as they have extensive experience to draw on.