2020 has been a challenging year for humanity, but especially the first responders and frontline workers who’ve risked their lives for the wellbeing of all. HR leaders, charged with supporting the most important asset of an organization – its people, have also been put under immense pressure.

Tasked with trying to connect a remote workforce, HR leaders were asked again and again to do more with less. With these challenges also came an opportunity for growth, innovation and creativity. 

As the year draws to a close, it’s important to look ahead to what the next year may hold. Recently, we asked over 700 global HR leaders just that. Here is what they shared:

HR’s role is evolving

global-hr-woman-remotelyAlmost half (47.8%) of all HR leaders surveyed predict industry leaders will continue to leverage the latest technologies to create an enhanced and streamlined employee experience. While this has been the case for quite a while now, this trend isn't likely to go away soon, as technology bridges the (previously figurative, now geographic) distance between workers and managers.  

What's more, 22.5% of respondents believe that the C-suite will look for HR leaders to drive tangible impact on their organization and 44.6% believe HR will be more involved in company-wide digital transformations. 

These expectations highlight the intense need for employee support and engagement, and the increasing pressure put on these leaders heading into the new year.  

Employees’ needs are changing

remote employees workingThe circumstances of this year have changed the way we work and in turn, changed the needs of employees. No longer are holiday parties, outings, or ping pong tables in the break room relevant perks. Workers want benefits that support them where they are in this incredibly stressful "new normal."

HR leaders are anticipating this shift will continue, with 45.4% predicting employees will rely on their employer to support their wellbeing more than ever in the coming year.

This year has shed light on other important topics like diversity, equity and inclusion, and issues of race and injustice. 35.6% of HR leaders surveyed predict initiatives surrounding these conversations will grow in importance in 2021.

The "new normal" is here to stay

Many employees have been working from home full-time since March, and this trend is set to continue into 2021, according to health experts. Until vaccines are readily available, widespread and effective, many areas of the world will continue to practice social distancing, meaning offices are unlikely to open at full capacity. While the future is unclear, HR teams agree that the new way forward means remote work is here to stay, with 48.3% anticipating it will become the new standard and 34.4% believing that employees will determine how and where they want to work in the new year. 

While looking ahead to a new year evokes feelings of a fresh start, it's likely many of the challenges we face will carry over despite the flip of the calendar. But luckily, HR leaders have set themselves up for success when considering HR trends for 2021, relying on technology, wellness and a commitment to flexibility to carry them through.

Are you ready? Discover more ideas and tips to navigate the upcoming year at rg.co/covid19us.

Alexandra Powell

Alexandra Powell, Director of Client Cultural Insights, not only knows American Sign Language, but uses it to secretly communicate with her husband and kids at parties. Alex is a highly experienced employee engagement consultant, trainer and speaker. For over 20 years she has helped HR and business leaders implement strategies that drive true culture change.

Director of Client Cultural Insights

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