Couldn't Be Any Worse Than 2020: HR Predictions for 2021

Allison V. Manswell, CPTD, Path Forward ConsultingAllison V. Manswell, CPTD, Path Forward Consulting
Crossing over into 2021 was anticipated to bring a fresh and hopeful energy of recovery. Well, as it turns out we had a good solid 5 days, and we are now counting down to 2022. Considering where we find ourselves right now, here are my top 3 predictions for what HR needs to execute on this year in order to fulfill their responsibility to our nation’s organizations.

1) Shift from being an HR Business Partner to include being an Employee Wellness Partner: The threat is that the lingering effect of COVID-19 will haunt workplace productivity for decades to come if we do not recognize the obvious and nuanced ways that life for employees (every company’s biggest asset) has changed.

This focus should include a:

a. more comprehensive suite of EAP services and related services

b. increased ability to understand how people are now working differently, the challenges they face and solutions that can support them

c. targeted focus on leaders to provide the necessary skills to support employees
2) Enhance capacity to deal with racial equity: The added danger of an attempted coup of the American government is that it highlights those who continue to shy away from racial equity issues will damage HR professionals’ individual and collective credibility in other areas.

A few important questions to clarify:

a. How will the organization deal with employees who participated?

b. How will they deal with those who supported this criminal event?

c. How will they monitor and handle employee conflicts that stem from differing beliefs and/or social media conversation?

d. Is it possible that continued support for this president could be interpreted as creating a hostile work environment?

e. Will the company continue to donate to the political careers of politicians who have contributed to the current state of government?

3) Plan long-term for the new normal of remote work: Even once the vaccine is deployed, things will never go back to pre-2020. From the abandonment of handshakes to life on Zoom, we need to improve the richness of the ways we interact. Early reports are that productivity in some cases has improved and we should be tracking what is working well. In addition, we must get a handle on the other elements of employee engagement, creativity, collaboration and innovation and ensure that we are encouraging and supporting how this occurs. Ironically, this will also serve our efforts around racial equity. So, if we do this right – we can prepare for two big impacts using the same strategy.
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