7 min read

Top 5 HR trends for 2021 and beyond.

What’s a good way to start the year? To reflect on the past and to think about what the future holds for us. In this blog post, we’ll review the key HR trends that’ll shape the future of the workforce for 2021 and beyond. Read on and share your opinion with us!

current trends in hr management

I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies

– Lawrence Bossidy, writer and retired businessman

2. Employee experience: redefined

With COVID-19, the employee experience concept has slightly shifted to the life experience which isn’t associated with an office or physical presence with a team. A recent report by McKinsey states that in 2021, companies will focus on building strong leadership and a sense of trust among the current workforce and potential employees in the job market. Such findings aren’t surprising as employees are seeking a reliable and supportive environment during uncertain times.

Among HR trends in 2021, we’ll see companies redefine their employee experiences, engagement techniques, and benefits packages. 

First, focus will be put on employee wellbeing and perks that’ll help them streamline daily routines. The Hartford’s Future of Benefits Study conducted in August 2020 shows that employees are becoming highly interested in perks like paid time off (52%), hospital indemnity insurance (48%), employee assistance programs (56%), and mental health support services (51%).

Second, companies will make a shift from offline to online experiences. Zoom-driven team building parties, fitness and yoga classes, and mindfulness sessions – the list goes on and on. 

Finally, among future HR trends we’ll see a shift to life experience with benefits packages that aren’t directly connected with the company. For example, at Chanty, a company that develops a collaboration tool, each employee received a $100 bonus to spend on a party and presents for their families. 

Another hit of 2020 that’ll continue in 2021 is food delivery straight to employee’s homes, so they don’t have to spend time cooking and grocery shopping. Bonuses like these demonstrate to employees that a company cares and supports them through hard times by deed, not by a word.

3. Employee upskilling

Employee upskilling entered into the picture of HR trends some time ago. A recent Udemy’s survey showed that the upskilling demand grew to a whopping 38% in 2020. As a comparison, in 2019 this figure was only 14%.

How has upskilling become one of the key HR trends? Because it’s a sustainable and lean approach to developing your workforce. Upskilling initiatives help HR professionals retain employees, boost morale, and cut costs on recruiting and onboarding. 

Last year brought us challenges like laying off, increased number of sick leaves, and transition to remote work. To stay agile and adapt to external market challenges, organizations will implement upskilling initiatives to help their workforce stay competitive in the job market. For instance, a consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) spent $3 billion on upskilling employees that have been working at the company for the last 3 or more years. This is one of the most ambitious PwC’s upskilling initiatives that implies training on a day-release basis. 

Here at HRForecast, we offer a budget-friendly solution smartPeople that helps HR professionals get a helicopter view on their workforce’s skills and gaps that need to be filled. To make sure smartPeople suits your organization, choose an available time slot and book a free demo with our consultants.

4. Data-driven HR and people analytics

Did you know that only 34% of HR executives rely on data and metrics for decision making? If one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2021 was to take a more data-driven approach to your people strategy, it’s high time to start the changes. 

According to LinkedIn’s research, the key drivers of people analytics include:

  • The rise of CHRO’s role in the company’s processes. To stay competitive within an organization, HR executives need to adopt a data-driven mindset to assess current and future workforce demand, skill gaps, diversity in the workplace, and more.
  • Technologies like AI-powered chatbots, screening tools, and recruitment automation tools that make a candidate’s experience more engaging and dynamic. 
  • Competitive market that requires organizations to build long-term workforce planning strategies. With a clear vision of what a company will look like in 10-15 years, HR executives are able to predict the expertise demand and save costs on learning and development.

To boost your people analytics strategy, check out Market Intelligence – our people analytics solution that allows you to get real-time insights on your HR processes and states. With a user-friendly interface and dashboards, you’ll effortlessly get access to valuable information and build HR decisions with meaningful data at hand.

5. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

In 2020, the amount of search queries on workforce diversity insights has increased by 74% in comparison with a year before. Companies recognize the impact of diverse teams on business innovations, profitability, and team morale. In fact, companies with a highly diverse workforce reported up to 19% higher revenues than companies with low diversity.  

Here are several HR trends related to DEI we’re expecting to observe in 2021:

  • Redefined hiring strategy. Hiring is the first step to ensuring a diverse workforce. Diversity sourcing, blind hiring processes, and AI-powered candidate screening are common recruitment techniques that’ll help HR executives build diversified teams.
  • Education initiatives. For example, Starbucks initiated anti-bias training for employees in the US and Canada to fight race and ethnicity bias. The company resorted to these measures after a notorious Philadelphia’s case when two afro-Americans were arrested at Starbucks without a reason. 
  • Analytics and accountability. People analytics will come in handy to set SMART diversity goals, measure the HR efforts, and create an inclusive workplace. With automated diversity tools, HR executives will be able to determine diversity ratios across the company and find opportunities for improvement with actionable data at hand.

Future HR trends: what’s next?

As we can see, 2020 pushed the HR industry to rework conventional processes and focus on positive employee experience. As never before, we pay attention to the mental health of our employees and encourage diversity initiatives. 

To keep up with further challenges and rely on data rather than intuition in your HR decisions, opt for our reliable and fully customizable software solutions like smartPeople and smartInsights. Or, you can get in touch with us to discuss how we transform your organization together.

Learn more about the future of workforce:

How to reduce your organizations’ employee attrition rate

Reasons for employee turnover and how to eliminate them

WFH: Work from home and its culture


Let´s start the rocket!