5 Trends that are Transforming HR in 2021: Analyzing the New Normal of Work

HR & AI in 2021

Wasn’t it just a keen desire to work at the comfort of home a couple of years ago? The routine of waking up early and dressing up for the office would become robotic for the employees worldwide, but then came a global shift of work mannerism. The coronavirus pandemic not only put the health of people at stake but also brought a great acceleration in the crucial transformation of workplaces. The impact of coronavirus on work has activated reconsideration on business travels, virtual training, and remote work. The way we communicate, the way we work, and the way we learn has completely altered, becoming the ‘New Normal’ of work.

In order to shape ourselves in the new normal of work, it is essential to adapt to digitization and reflect agility for that matter. Adjustment in the new world of work requires accelerated operational and technical advancements in organizations. For that purpose, employers and employees together now seek to build organizational resilience by collaborating online. Every coworker’s performance and agility matter in this changing course of time; with that being said, let us take a look at the trends that are transforming human resources at large corporations in 2021:

1. Increased Focus on Employee Health & Wellness

Before the commencement of the global pandemic, focus on employee wellbeing was inadequate. There were limited programs for promoting a healthy diet, sufficient exercise, hygiene conditions, and mental wellness. It is pertinent to add here that improvement in the workplace environment was less focused on or sometimes not even a part of employee wellbeing initiatives. The pandemic has made organizations acknowledge the vitality of their employee’s health as a top priority. A significant reduction in employee participation at work was observed due to the quickly spreading virus. This resulted in significant revenue loss for organizations. Organizations faced a loss of productivity due to the lack of employee contribution at work. It would not be an exaggeration to state that even employees now look up to their organizations’ care and concern regarding health.

Previously, the human resource departments of the organizations claimed employees as their most valuable assets. However, the accurate worth of this slogan has been realized after the global pandemic. It is highly essential to introduce employee wellbeing programs as any sort of compromise can result in an overall reduction in productivity and thus profitability. Following are some of the wellness initiatives that organizations can adopt to ensure the health and wellness of employees:

• Virtual Well-being Programs:

Organizations should arrange periodic virtual well-being workshops. For this purpose, organizations can hire experts who would communicate the significance of exercising, yoga, and meditation, and maintaining a healthy diet. Such practices are more likely to reduce stress and induce a prominent boost in employee health & wellness. A stronger focus, better relationships, and mindfulness can be created through such programs.

• Flexible Work Hours:

When we say the well-being of employees is important, we do not limit the context to physical health. Work-life balance has gained a prominent recognition in today’s workplace mannerism. Candidates now look for jobs that would not just provide financial gains but are also compatible with their lifestyle. Work stress can be reduced to a perceptible extent by introducing flexible hours of work. This can be beneficial in several ways; the employees will feel trusted and valued by their organizations. Moreover, they will also be able to undertake the responsibilities of more tasks effectively by completing work remotely while giving time to their families.

• Incentivize Standard Operating Procedures:

Prior to the pandemic the concept of social distancing and frequent hand-sanitizing rarely existed in any operational market. However, it is now compulsory for organizations to ensure the prevalence of standard operating procedures considering the consequences of the pandemic. Nonetheless, organizations can introduce reward programs for employees that religiously follow all health & safety measures.

For more information regarding the wellness of employees, check out our article on Holistic Employee Wellness Program.

2. Mental Health as a Prominent Mandate; Rise of New HR Job Roles

A recent study by Harvard reflects one of the harsh mental health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic i.e. depression and anxiety. Staying at home for the longest time and being uncertain on many work & personal aspects, a lot of individuals are stressed due to the enormous shift in lifestyle. Studies show that four out of ten people had mental health issues in the past year due to the long-lasting lockdowns for safety. Even when the employees are returning to their desk jobs after getting vaccinated this year, the post-traumatic stress of prior depression still exists. It is high time that organizations take this into consideration and introduce measures to prevent mental health. There are many phone applications that help to retain mindfulness and tackle depression, but is it really enough for the organizations? A possible answer is no. This is because organizations cannot ensure if employees are regularly using those applications for the betterment of their mental well-being. Here is when HR can intervene with a new role of a “Wellbeing Officer” in the team. This role deals with psychology of employees and deeply analyze the mental issues they are facing through different interventions. The prime responsibility of this job role is to ensure the emotional and mental wellness of employees. In this way, the mental health of employees can be nurtured. Following are some of the activities that the Wellbeing Officers can undertake:

• Socializing Days:

Every week, the human resource department can organize a “Social Day” where employees can get together to communicate with each other. These gatherings may not necessarily be fancy; some coffee /snack with interesting and impromptu games or team activities can do well for everyone to enjoy. In this way, the relationships at the workplace can be boosted and the employees can get stress-free due to some time off work.

• One-to-one Mental Wellness Sessions:

Employees can schedule one-to-one virtual or on-site sessions with the Wellbeing Officer. Hence, he/ she will be able to share their feelings about their work life and how they feel, better analysis and solutions will have the potential to rectify their existing issues.

3. Using Diversity in the Workplace for Competitive Advantage

The human resource department now puts a great emphasis on establishing a workplace environment consisting of employees from diverse backgrounds. Variety and diversity make more income the organization turns out to be more relatable to socioeconomics. Individuals assemble associations with brands that they feel know them in some way or another. Without variety in backgrounds, it is a battle to make more revenues. Initially, the workforce diversity aspect lacked a very essential depth. The organizations should not just see the workers of different backgrounds by their specific ethnicity and national identity. Organizations should view the employee as an individual of potential. This will enable the executive management to assess employees based on their successes and limitations rather than traits associated with their backgrounds. Following are the two effective and highly essential measures for diversifying the organizational teams:

• Prioritizing Potential

The talent team needs to focus on high potential to boost the work performance, social inclusion element, and bring in creative plans for the betterment of firms. Decisions on talent acquisition, talent development & retention should focus on performance and potential.

• Conflict Management

Training for managers and supervisors will help boost the impact of diverse decisions daily. If this factor is not considered in the beginning it can adversely affect the ability of the organization in making diversity a priority. For workforce management purposes, an initiative of employee training is a huge priority. Without this, it will be chaotic to bring conclusions to conflict management.

Through this strategic management of diversity, all employees can perform together and carry out solutions in regard to planning and fulfillment of organizational goals. This aspect will increase the worth of solidarity; drive and induce entrepreneurial strength; comfortable communication with confidentiality; and a firm belief that the organization can build a prosperous future by working as a team.

4. Accelerated Digital HR Transformation

Human resource departments must select people who accept and adapt to change. The reason to claim this is the modern advancement of the world where people from all over the globe get together and perform tasks. While hiring, the human resources department should put a key focus on this factor. This will promote more acceptance and broad-mindedness. The company will become more welcoming than before and the ‘agree to disagree’ element will allow more new ideas and steps to improve business growth. Similar is the case of complying with technical advancement for the purpose of digitization and adaptability towards the new normal of work. Following are some of the ways to promote and establish this cause:

• Employee Retraining

Proper training to work must be provided to all employees. The transformation of on-site culture to the digital world is no less than an innovation. When manual processes of the business are eliminated amidst digital transformation the ambiguities rise. A 24/7 support service of HR must be made available for assistance and guidance.

• Establishing Digital Workforce

Secure platforms should be utilized for remote work and communication with each other. Organizations must establish a proper work interface so the employees can perform from home without any technical issue. While creating a digital workforce, the demand for technical skillset shows up for which the HR must lead to improve the roles of employees. Even if the organizations require IT specialists for generating a safe online workspace, the task must be undertaken instantly.

• Cyber-security Measures

Network and technical security groups must be assessed so that the are proactive monitored across the organizations to recognize and moderate conceivable safety measures and information protection penetration for the purpose of avoiding hacks and breaches of data.

The motive to promote technical advancements in a modern world like today cannot go in vain at any cost. This element in a business model will not just adopt the new normal of work but also highlight effective communication; facilitate strategic planning and thinking, and simultaneously eliminate extra costs and wastes. In addition to this, the reach to customers will also increase. The telecommunications advancement in technology will help to reach out to the customers in an effective manner by reducing waste resources and eliminating manpower required for the same purpose.

5. Innovation to Boost Transformation

As the employees are returning to their on-site jobs this year, human resource departments are drawing up new ways to accelerate the evolution of workplace mannerism in an innovative strategy. The HR experts are adopting transformational leadership styles to create synergy in the workplace:

• Agile Work Practices

Human Resources department are accelerating the implementation of agile work practices. This will speed up change adoption and employees can settle into the workplace environment promptly.

• Cross-functional Collaboration

Human Resources departments are seeing the highest need for cross functional collaboration. HR is performing cross-functional duties to respond to the coronavirus pandemic effects in an efficient and effective manner i.e., collaboration with other departments of the organization such as finance, HSE, legal, etc.

• Redesigning HR Processes

Human Resources departments are redesigning several HR processes to adopt to the new normal of work. The processes that are undergoing major changes and / or digital adoption include Talent Acquisition, Learning & Business Travel.


In a fast paced and globalized world, the effective management of human resource management requires acknowledging the importance of employee experience and engagement and focusing on it. This article vividly analyzes the evolving HR Trends in 2021 and how organizations are adapting to the new normal at work. The well-being of employees is seen to be a high priority and completely uncompromising. Organizations are now looking up for new ways and strategies to facilitate their most valuable assets i.e., employees. Moreover, mental health is also a high time priority, so every employee works in a stress-free manner by leaving behind the anxiety caused by the pandemic. It is also pertinent to mention that one of the latest strategies of human resource departments is to recruit employees from diverse backgrounds. This is to obtain varying perspectives regarding organizational strategy development and to gain a competitive advantage. Another emerging aspect is managing the hybrid work models where HR is balancing onsite & remote work and full-time and freelance workers. To meet the requirements of the new normal of work, digital HR transformation is accelerating in an unprecedented way. Some HR processes such as Talent Acquisition, Learning & Business Travel has seen maximum changes and technological adoption.

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