In this article, we'll take a look at some emerging HR trends in 2021, including some challenges examples. 2021 trends are influenced by a tough year that we all faced in 2020. But with informed insights and strategic responses, we can work towards a successful 2021.
Business Challenges and HR Trends in 2021
2020 was a challenging year for many businesses, around the world. BerkeleyHaas concluded that small and mid-sized businesses were the hardest hit in 2020, in a survey of over 15 countries in Europe and Asia. According to data from Yelp, in the United States, 60% of closures due to COVID aren't temporary. They're permanent now.
These are upsetting statistics, especially when you consider business challenges without a pandemic. For example:
- An estimated 60% of small businesses in the UK will fail within three years.
- In the United States, an estimated 20% of businesses fail in their first year.
- Over 80% of first-time European entrepreneurs have a failed business venture.
The challenges that typically result in these closures include, but aren't limited to: ineffective marketing, financial hardship, management problems, and ineffective planning. This is a lot to consider. When we think of the added concerns that presented themselves in 2020, it's even more challenging.
2020 brought new challenges, such as these challenges examples:
- remote opportunities
- technological literacy
- limited in person availability
- health care and wellness
- security in uncertain times
This list isn't exhaustive, and these challenges haven't disappeared in 2021. Current HR trends in 2020 have influenced in 2021 trends. This means management and HR tasks are even more difficult than ever.
There's even more to consider and even more to plan. Your employees and the future of your business are counting on you to make informed, empathetic decisions.
How Problems in 2021 Affect Your Company’s HR Focus and Goals for 2021
So, what human resources trends did you notice in 2020? Take some time to analyze your HR focus, performance management trends, and work priorities. Understanding your own unique challenges of management is a key part of improving in 2021.
But you also need to be aware of potential problems in 2021, outside of your individual performance and challenges. You're inheriting challenges from 2020, and your response should be strategic.
For example, working from home, as a business practice, is projected to be here to stay according to Inc.
Even without remote work, the way we work in person will likely never be quite the same. Finding, hiring, and engaging with employees is different in a world where remote is becoming more and more common. Are you prepared to reimagine your office spaces and the way you engage with your employees?
Let's look at some organizational challenges and emerging HR trends to consider for 2021. Consider these challenges examples as ways to brainstorm for your own 2021 strategy.
13 Organizational Challenges and Emerging HR Trends for 2021
As you plan for 2021, consider these 13 business challenges. 2020 was a difficult year, and it likely impacted your HR strategy in some way. Problems in 2021 will likely be influenced by 2020. These emerging HR trends in 2021 are inspired by a changing world with changing needs. Think about current HR trends 2020 inspired.
How would your business respond to these organizational challenges? Use these challenges to help inspire your HR goals for 2021:
1. Technology in the Workplace
Remote work, or working from home, was already on the rise. But with COVID-19, this became an even more relevant and important for many business operations to continue. Stanford University estimates that over 40% of Americans experienced working from home, full time, in 2020. The statistics were similar in Europe, both in trends and COVID-19 impact. In fact, trends like these have made a long term impact in some countries, like Australia. An estimated 75% of the Australian workforce reportedly supports work from home arrangements for the foreseeable future.
The way we work is changing, and we may very well be looking at a long term new-normal.
But remote work isn't as simple as just "working from home". What about the technology necessary to do this? Not every candidate may have the hardware, software, or resources required. Think about how you can best equip your employees to work remotely. Investing and planning for this can help keeps operations going in case of illness, emergency, or travel.
2. Employee Wellness Policies
Your employees are the heart of your business. Do your employees have access to health coverage? Do they have access to resources that help them live a healthier life? COVID-19 has impacted so many lives. Are you prepared to accommodate and assist your employees in the event of unexpected illness?
Think about how you can invest in the ongoing wellness of your employees. Studies suggest that investing in wellness can encourage positive behaviors and morale. Think about it—wouldn't you want to work for a company that's invested in your well-being?
3. Mental Health Policies
Mental health care is important. Over 1 billion people across the globe have, had, or will have mental health concerns in their lifetime. This estimate is likely below the actual number, given inconsistent data in some parts of the world. In fact, many candidates and employees may be hesitant to share information about their mental health.
Mental health care and stress management are important. Left unaddressed, these concerns can lead to decreased activity, decreased communication, and even concerns with daily function according to a CDC report.
Much like physical health care, make mental health care a priority in your business. Is health care accessible to your employees? Have you created an environment where mental health care is prioritized? Check out these extra resources on mental health care support in the workplace.
- World Mental Health DayWhy Provide Better Mental Health Benefits? (Mental Health Awareness 2019)Andrew Blackman
- HealthHow to Support Mental Health in the WorkplaceAndrew Blackman
4. Accessible Technology
Many of us learn and communicate in different ways. The people who use technology today are a diverse population with diverse needs. Is your business prepared to communicate and convey digital information in an effective and flexible way?
For example, assistive technology can help make content more accessible to a wider audience. This could include things like audio options, visual considerations for color blindness, visual aids/zooming, and more. Besides, many of us resonate with different learning styles. For example, some employees might best learn and communicate visually. Others may be more auditory or tactile.
5. Team Diversity
Quite frankly, a diverse team is a powerful team. Think about it this way: wouldn't you want diverse perspectives on your team? Different insights and experiences give you an edge. A diverse steam means more information, more perspectives, and more varied skilled
But it's also important that your company is acting ethically and without bias. From hiring to daily interactions, how you welcome and embrace diversity at your business is a reflection on your company. Have anti-discrimination policies and enforce them. Commit to creating a welcoming environment. Those who have experienced discrimination need to feel safe and welcome to report it.
Want to explore more about team diversity in your workplace? Check out these articles.
- DiversityHow to Build a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion in Your WorkplaceAndrew Blackman
- DiversityWhat Is Unconscious Bias? +Top Strategies to Help Avoid ItAndrew Blackman
6. LGBTQ Inclusivity
These concepts also apply to LGBTQ candidates and employees. Create an environment that's welcoming and safe for people of many different backgrounds and orientations. But it's more than simply creating an environment. These policies need to be enforced and embraced throughout your organization.
Educate your employees on the standards that are expected to be upheld. Work towards keeping the space safe and welcoming for those who may need to report a concern.
7. Disability Accommodations and Rights
Is your business compliant and empathetic when it comes to disability accommodations? Keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible. Create and nurture an environment that's fair, flexible, and welcoming to candidates with different needs and abilities. Again, diversity in the workplace is a strength. You can actively work to create an environment where employees from many different perspectives can thrive and contribute.
Here's more information on accommodations and disability rights to know in 2021.
- AccessibilityNot All Disabilities Are Visible: Improve Awareness and AccessDaisy Ein
- AccessibilityHow to Make Your Workplace More Accessible & Inclusive for the DisabledBrenda Barron
8. Company Social Engagement
When social concerns arise, how will your business respond? Many businesses have a corporate social responsibility policy. For example, when faced with a large social problem, will your business stand up and make their stance known? What morals and causes does your business support?
Sometimes, silence can be a statement itself—and it's not necessarily perceived as a good one. In fact, taking an ethical stance can prove to make your business more attractive to candidates and consumers alike. Think about how your company's actions and statements reflects the ethics of your brand. How will you respond and react to current events? Your voice and your support matters.
9. Managing a Remote Team
If you're new to remote teams, they might seem intimidating. How do you connect with everyone? How will you manage your team and make sure work priorities are on task?
It's a different environment than in-person office spaces—but that doesn't mean it's less effective. It also doesn't mean you can't still be a supportive, active member of your team. You can be just as responsive, available, and helpful in a remote team. Video conferencing tools, interactive documents, and planning boards make it easier than ever to manage a remote team.
In 2021, take time to plan how you'll manage a remote team. Even if it's not a core part of your business plan, it can be a strong idea to know how you'd tackle this challenge. What if your team is temporarily forced to work remotely? It's better to have a plan than to be caught without alternatives.
Want to learn more about effectively managing a remote team? Check out this free article today.
10. Providing Job Security
2020 had a damaging impact on jobs and job loss all around the world. Think about it from your employee's perspective. Surely this information can cause anxiety about job security. How will you respond to this? How will you work to keep morale high? What can you do to protect and empower your employees?
None of us want to be confronted with financial loss or hardship. Consider prioritizing operations and business decisions that promote security and stability. In the event of difficult decisions, be honest and upfront from the start, rather than surprising others with difficult news. Treat others the way you would want to be treated as an employee.
11. Hiring Strong Candidates
Equip yourself to hire strong candidates. Changing times also mean different challenges and resources. Email, calls, and video conferencing may be the strong methods, especially if you need to keep things remote. Make sure your own ducks are in order first. Clearly list what skills you're looking for, why, and what you can offer your candidates.
You'll attract strong candidates if your business and the position are attractive. Unsure of how to attract talent with your job description? Check out this article. It covers many helpful tips and insights.
- DiversityHow to Attract and Hire Top Talent in 2021 (With Job Description Examples)Sharon Hurley Hall
12. Competitive and Equitable Job Benefits
How do you pay your employees? This might seem like a simple question, but it's an important one to ask. Are you fair with your employment terms and metrics? Is it an equal playing field, or is there bias? Is it easy for your employees to access their payment and benefit terms, even in remote situations? Answer these questions and consider how your business can most effectively address them.
Explore more on equity concerns in your business in this article.
- GenderHow to Overcome the Gender Pay Gap and Other Pay Equity Problems in Your BusinessAndrew Blackman
13. Embracing New Work Flow
2021 might be a year of new work flow, new business practices, and adapting to an ever changing world. You've got two choices here. You can adapt and rise to the occasion, or you can resist change. Be aware of the changing challenges in your industry and in your business operations. Then, you can respond to them in a strategic way.
If, for example, some operations have to be remote, don't fight it. Embrace it. Learn, experience, and share it enthusiastically with your employees. This is about succeeding, even in the face of obstacles.
Think about the best ways to encourage and nurture productivity and communication in your workplace. Consider what software or platforms might help make communication more friendly and welcoming. Just because you're working remotely, doesn't mean you can't make genuine connections with others.
Learn more about management, productivity, and communication in these free articles.
- EntrepreneurshipWhat Is People Management? Yes, These Skills Matter in 2020Sharon Hurley Hall
- CommunicationSmall Business HR: How to Communicate With Employees BetterAndrew Blackman
Learn More About HR Strategy and Focus
Want to learn more about HR trends and challenges of management? Check out these free articles from Envato Tuts+. Whether you're researching small business challenges or performance management trends, there's plenty to see.
You might also want to check out The Complete Small Business Human Resources (HR) Guide. It's an awesome resource, and it's free. Give it a read today, especially if your focus is small business challenges.
- Small Business15 Important HR Basics for Every Small Business OwnerAndrew Blackman
- Small Business20 Worst Small Business HR Issues (+How to Deal With Them)Andrew Blackman
- Small BusinessWhat Are the Important HR Requirements for Small Business?Andrew Blackman
Skillfully Overcome Your Business Challenges in 2021
So, what are your HR goals for 2021? How will your HR focus address potential problems in 2021?
Traditional challenges of management are always a concern. However, challenging times have brought even more organizational challenges to the table. Be aware of human resources trends but keep your HR strategy focused on your unique perspective and challenges too. Doing so will help make 2021 a more successful year for your business.
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