Despite the massive downward business trends that characterized 2020, businesses are now finally starting to recover. There is much to be excited about in 2021, especially for human resource (HR) departments.

All businesses have experienced a massive shift because of global events and the human resource space took a heavy blow. While HR Professionals are learning to adapt and how to navigate 2021, there are powerful trends emerging that could change the world forever.

1. The Challenging Recruiting Landscape

In the first quarter of last year, remote work may have seemed like a temporary phenomenon, but it is no longer a passing trend. Now, companies must do their best to improve and enhance their virtual recruitment and onboarding processes.

As more people become unwilling to go back to the “normal office setting” and prefer to work remotely from their home, HR Professionals must do their best to search for and screen competent people who can work autonomously.

Getting new hires has become a harder process, especially now that digital recruitment has intensified. Not all brands can adopt this strategy overnight, but HR groups must be able to learn how to fast track their assessment of candidates through digital platforms such as Zoom, Teams and the like. They may also utilize online assessment options to make sure they hire people more effectively.

2. COVID-19 and Vaccines

COVID-19 remains a threat, including to HR departments. Therefore, HR groups must be prepared to deal with employees suffering from health issues. Contingency plans must be put in place as to who will continue duties if a person in charge of a project is suddenly unavailable.

HR directors whose employees have been severely affected and those who are eager to return to “normal” may want their employees to get vaccinated. However, they must also be prepared to deal with those who do not want to get the vaccine due to medical, religious, or philosophical reasons.

Even if an HR department becomes successful in encouraging all employees to get vaccinated, restrictions must remain in place. This includes social distancing, wearing masks, doing temperature checks, and other COVID-related measures since it will likely take time to vaccinate the entire population. But as more people are vaccinated, HR directors can expect the gradual lifting of restrictions.

3. Minimum Wage and Compensation Trends

Pay equity is one of the most pressing concerns of HR directors for 2021. While a higher wage is great news for employees, it can pose a serious challenge for employers.

A recent study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office focused on how employment and family income would be affected if the federal government were to raise the minimum wage. The study found that while this measure would increase the earnings of some, especially low-wage workers, and even lift some families out of poverty, it will ultimately hurt small business owners that already rely on thin profits.

While the House of Representatives is set to vote on this by 2024, HR directors must come up with effective strategies to help their company deal with this scenario as early as 2021.

4. Diversity and Inclusion

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, it is the Human Resource department’s job to build a diverse workforce through effective recruitment. Diversity and inclusion are characterized by equal opportunity, fairness, and compassion. There are many ways to do this, such as assessing new hires without bias.

The novel coronavirus has intensified economic and racial justice issues and diversity and inclusion in the workplace can help in these areas, and it makes good economic sense as well. Studies have shown that diverse teams outperform those that are homogenous. The use of teams also results in higher corporate revenues. When workers are more diverse, there will be greater opportunities to discuss under-represented issues and experiences that can improve the team’s overall creativity.

5. Employee Wellness

Now more than ever, there is a need for HR departments to monitor the wellness of their employees, especially those who work remotely. The pandemic has turned the lives of many people upside down. Its impact is very noticeable, especially in small to mid-sized companies. When the employees’ wellness and mental health are not considered, their productivity will ultimately suffer.

Another way for companies to ensure that the wellness of their employees is maintained is to make sure they strongly encourage vacations, as well as holiday and paid leaves. Reinforcing the importance of taking well-deserved time off will do wonders for employees’ efficiency.

Not only that, BUT HR directors must ALSO always practice compassionate leadership. There must be an open conversation surrounding mental health and mindfulness in the workplace, whether employees are in the office or working remotely. HR directors must also encourage their employees to prioritize their fitness and health. If there is anything people have learned during the past year, it is to take care of their “whole selves”.