The Top 5 HR Trends to Look For In 2021. Keep an eye out for these five up-and-coming HR trends as workforces everywhere adjust to a post-COVID world. 

It’s no secret that 2020 was a disruptive year. Fallout from the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of Americans to work from home, and changed the way employers think about employee wellness. The new workforce needs to be adaptable and resilient in the face of uncertainty and leadership must find new ways to keep their teams motivated and healthy. 

 Here are the top 5 HR trends to look for in 2021, after a year that transformed the way Americans work. 

  • Continued remote work & an emphasis on hybrid work spaces. 

A year into the pandemic, workers have had time to reflect on the pros and cons of going remote and, to the surprise of many, there’s reason to believe that work-from-home options may stick around, even after the pandemic has ended. In a recent PwC survey, 83% of employers said their shift to remote work has been successful. According to the same survey, 55% of employees want to work at least three days a week from home, even after concerns of COVID-19 fade. While this doesn’t exactly align with employers — 68% of whom claim they need at least three days in the office a week to maintain company culture — the results do make one thing clear: We are likely heading in the direction of compromise. Look for more offices staying remote or vying for half-remote, half-in-office hybrid models in 2021. 

  • Increased flexibility on work hours. 

Some Americans are beginning to feel the restrictive nature of the 9-to-5 daily grind, especially after a year where many working parents lost the support of daytime childcare to the pandemic. Now, it seems employers are exploring alternative ways to structure employee time at work, many of which are paying off. According to Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, while 36% of employees were high-performers in the standard 40-hour workweek, that number rose to 55% when employees had flexibility over their hours and location. Expect this idea to be tested in more and more companies this year.

  • Increased employer focus on employee wellbeing and mental health support. 

According to the CDC, mental illnesses are associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment. These struggles affect more than just productivity and engagement, they can damage physical capabilities and daily functioning. Nearly 41% of adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression in their households, according to a January 2021 report from Kaiser Family Foundation, a massive spike from the 11% reported in June of 2019. With more and more employees experiencing challenges resulting from the collective trauma of the pandemic, employers must adapt. While there’s a long way to go, many companies feel more comfortable having conversations about mental health. As such, employee benefits are trending towards mental health support.

  • Increased employer focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion among staff. 

This trend isn’t based around productivity or output and isn’t about numbers or qualifiers: It’s about morality and equity. A year of social unrest has caused more companies to acknowledge their shortcomings when it comes to diversity and take the first steps toward becoming more inclusive. While diversity describes the make-up of a company, inclusion implies a more active approach. Companies are understanding that you need to be intentional about remaining inclusive.

  • Emphasis on corporations taking social and political stances. 

The United States is undergoing a serious social reckoning and being a bystander to the burning social and political issues of the day is becoming harder to justify. When the leadership of a company aligns itself with the views of its employees, the entire company culture moves towards unity and, in turn, productivity. According to Gartner research, the number of productive and engaged employees jumped from 40% to 60% when their companies acted on the social issues of the times. More and more companies are feeling empowered to voice these opinions to their employees. 

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