Nine trends that will mark people management in organisations in 2021
December 18, 2020
- In recent months, human resources departments have had to respond to a number of different challenges, in particular organisational changes due to teleworking, the impetus of the digital transformation and a higher degree of risk to staff’s physical and emotional health.
- These challenges are also a great opportunity to promote changes to improve team well-being by giving greater importance to mental healthcare and stress management, strengthening initiatives focused on the work-life balance or investing in diversity.
2020 has definitely been a turning point for many human resources professionals and teams. The spread of Covid-19 has led to a paradigm shift, with one of the areas experiencing the greatest change being people management. Given the need to sustain business activity despite the health restrictions, organisations have had to reinvent themselves by exploring new courses of action to respond to three major challenges, which are organisational changes due to the sudden introduction of teleworking, increasingly digital processes and a heightened risk to the workforce’s physical and mental health. This unstoppable transformation, in which new technologies have played a fundamental role, will mark the human resources sector over the next few months. Some of the trends that will characterise 2021 include focusing primarily on workers’ emotional health, investing in change management to involve the workforce in the company’s new roadmap, giving greater priority to the work-life balance, promoting diversity and establishing new ways of training.
Over the past year, organisations have had to respond to many challenges. The first being the vast organisational change that has resulted in teleworking being introduced full-time, forcing human resources departments to adapt processes and coordinate teams remotely. Given that the future of companies will depend on the management of hybrid environments, maintaining constant communication and contact with staff will be fundamental.
From the very beginning the health crisis has also shown that digitalisation will play a key role at all levels, presenting many companies with the challenge of having to reinvent themselves quickly to maintain their business and continue to remain competitive in the global market. The ever-changing technological environment means that it is now necessary to keep abreast of the latest developments at all times to prevent being left behind, and to invest in continuing training and development.
Lastly, the health situation has also underlined the great importance of caring for employees holistically, particularly as far as their mental health is concerned. To respond to this challenge, companies have started to consider the physical and emotional well-being of their teams holistically, not only by adopting all the protection measures imposed by the health authorities, but also by investing in the implementation of health & well-being plans as the strategic focus of people management. From now on, the key will be addressing specific problems, such as stress.
What are the key trends that will mark people management in organisations in 2021?
1. Prioritising staff’s emotional health. One of employers’ top priorities is their employees’ emotional wellness. The Covid-19 crisis and everything that comes with it (uncertainty, stress, isolation, lack of social contact, change in habits, etc.) has been the perfect breeding ground for medium and long-term psychological disorders. That is why mental healthcare in the professional environment will improve the employee experience, through the implementation of ad-hoc stress or anxiety management programmes, as well as initiatives relating to other aspects that affect workers’ emotional wellness directly, namely flexibility and the work-life balance, recognition of achievements and career development, among others.
2. Change management – the key to successful business transformation. Companies need to reinvent themselves quickly against a backdrop that is constantly changing. And for this transformation to take place efficiently, the entire workforce must be involved, which means that change management strategies will mark the management of people over the course of the next year. This is a structured process which aims to ensure that employees understand, accept and adopt the company’s new roadmap correctly, to achieve the objectives set quickly and easily. This strategy, which is based on individuals and teams being fully involved in decision-making and business development, calls for a participatory and flexible environment, in which creativity and the development of innovative ideas are encouraged.
3. Focusing on labour flexibility and the work-life balance. Teleworking has forced many workers to live their personal and work lives in the same physical space, which has had some negative consequences for part of the workforce, such as problems concentrating and managing tasks remotely, a longer working day or more difficulty disconnecting from work issues during hours of rest. As a result, human resources departments will focus on offering work-life balance programmes or providing the necessary tools to learn to manage their time efficiently when working remotely.
4. Promoting diversity. With the emergence of hybrid environments, in which part of the organisation works remotely, it is more necessary than ever to assess the diversity of talent and ensure fairness, guarantee the implementation of and compliance with non-discrimination policies, and review and guarantee access to work-life balance, health & well-being or career development policies by the entire workforce. Companies must show that their employees are valued for their contribution and not their origin, beliefs or position.
5. New ways of training. Now it is more important than ever that the business transformation goes hand in hand with the training of the workforce. Not only to achieve the objectives set by the organisation in the new environment, but also to increase employees’ motivation and development within the company. Given that the next few months will be characterised by virtual learning, technology-based training models such as MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), e-learning, microlearning or even podcasts or personalised online tutorials will be increasingly prevalent.
6. The rise in cloud process management. Although technological tools for human resources are already used in large corporations, the increase in teleworking will result in them being widely adopted throughout the entire business fabric, enabling the human resources departments of all organisations to automate most of their processes, for instance, uploading and downloading documents, legally valid signatures, controlling working hours, payroll management, performance evaluation or even assessing satisfaction and the work environment.
7. Adapting recruitment processes to the virtual world. The current context has also changed recruitment processes, resulting in new procedures for selecting new employees, such as interviews via video conference, online group dynamics with applicants, chatbots where applicants interact with a robot and answer a series of questions, remote psychometric tests, the use of algorithms for curriculum screening, etc.
8. Digital host plans. Adapting within a new company can be difficult under normal circumstances, and even worse when employees are recruited into the workforce remotely rather than in person. That is why human resources departments are starting to implement measures such as virtual onboarding platforms, online meetings, internal social networks, gamification and escape rooms, for example, to help new employees to embrace the company’s values and learn the responsibilities associated with their position.
9. Investing more in medical benefits: health insurance or telemedicine services. Offering employees the security of being able to access quality healthcare whenever they need it is, now more than ever, a real added value given the current situation. This will result in a growing interest in taking out health insurance for employees and, in particular, in committing to offer telemedicine services in the company.
For all these new trends to unfold and be developed, promoting two-way communication and constant contact internally between all members of the entity is essential, particularly in a context marked by the management of hybrid workforces. Only in this way will it be possible to know the needs and concerns of each employee, and offer them appropriate solutions. There are many measures that can be implemented to this end, such as daily/weekly meetings to share ideas, thoughts, articles or any other information that you want to convey, group or individual coaching sessions, mentoring, tutorials, a channel for online questions, a suggestion box, etc.