6 Top Priorities for HR Leaders in 2021

6 Top Priorities for HR Leaders in 2021

March 4, 2021

By Kelly Briggs
2020 was a year of seismic change— not just for those in the world of HR, but for the world as a whole. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many businesses to transition to remote work in order to continue forward. With that transition came a number of new problems for HR leaders that have required some innovative thinking to solve.

Fortunately, humans are adaptable and things have begun to sort themselves out, although new systems have come with a shift in priorities. HR leaders must now consider the remote work paradigm in their approach to employee engagement. As they do so, they can’t lose sight of the crucial aspects to maintaining the fair and forward-thinking workplace that the modern world demands, including things like diversity and mental health awareness. 

Here are the six top priorities for all HR leaders to consider in 2021. Whether your workplace has gone remote for the foreseeable future or you’ve returned back to business as usual, focusing on these key employee engagement strategies will help you to steer your company towards a brighter future.

Change Management

Change management is a term that is most often applied to the way a company prepares individuals for an organizational change that is aimed at improving performance. In 2021, the organizational change isn’t a preconceived plan, but is instead something that has been thrust upon us, which has altered the ways that an HR leader must view change management.

The individuals at your workplace have already experienced sweeping changes in their personal lives, so in order to keep them on track with the changes occurring in your company, you need to make a shift toward being more responsive to their evolving needs, the priorities of the company, and the place where these two factors meet.

Leadership Pipeline

The call for diversity in the workplace grows stronger every year. There are various studies that extol the social and financial benefits of workplace inclusivity, and chief among them is the profound effect that it can have on employee engagement.

In 2021, it’s imperative for you to include diversity on your team of future leaders. When members of your workforce see that leadership roles are not limited to people of a certain demographic— whatever that demographic may be— they feel more accepted, more confident, and more optimistic about future opportunities.

Employee Experience

Managing employee experience in 2021 is going to be a different kind of task. Remote work will lead to a lack of face-to-face human interaction, which can make it difficult to maintain a strong workplace culture and even more difficult to engage your workforce in a meaningful way. Employee engagement best practices will need to be revised to accommodate a workplace that consists of a network of home computers that are connected by Wi-Fi.

The first step toward maintaining a strong employee experience and preserving company culture in 2021 is to make a clear commitment to the mental, physical, and social well-being of your workforce. This might mean offering increased flexibility on work hours, implementation of virtual water coolers, online employee recognition via social media, and a case-by-case approach toward company policy to accommodate individual needs.

Diversity and Inclusion

2020 was marked by the tremendous upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by widespread calls for racial justice in the form of large-scale protests in major cities around the world. These events represent a growing demand for diversity and inclusion in all facets of society, including the workplace.

Workplace diversity is not a new topic, and it’s not a new priority for HR leaders, but the events of the summer of 2020 have served to further emphasize the critical need for HR leaders to ensure that diversity is included across all areas of business.

One way that this can be done is by creating diverse networks. Diverse networks have unique insight that can help to increase employee engagement for the other members of the team that share their social identities.

Performance Management 

One of the most profound ways in which employee engagement strategies have shifted in 2021 is in the realm of performance management. With your employees working remotely, it will be more difficult to gauge an employee’s performance. Fortunately, there are methods that you can employ to simplify things a bit.

Setting and managing specific team and individual goals— either the old-fashioned way or through some form of project management software— is the key to keeping track of how much is actually being accomplished and how well each member of your team is performing. To ensure that goals are being met, set up check-ins that occur at regular intervals.

Recruiting and Retention

In 2021, making adjustments to your employment strategies will be important. You may be swept up in helping your current workforce to adjust to all of the crazy changes that have occurred — and continue to occur— but don’t let that make you lose sight of the all-important need to acquire and retain top talent in any way that you can.

This might mean expanding your resources for recruiting and increasing your attraction tactics, or it may mean having a sharper focus on employee engagement best practices.

Yes, employee engagement plays a pivotal role in the recruitment process. Though candidates are not yet employees, potential hires need to see that all members of your company are respected, recognized, involved, and appreciated. When they do, they’re more likely to want to come on board with your company.   

Taking HR to the Next Level

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