HR TREND REPORT: What to expect in 2021

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

HR TREND REPORT: What to expect in 2021

While the disruptions faced by employers in 2020 caused an unparalleled amount of stress, there were also some bright lights. Many employees found themselves working from home, and a recent Gallup poll found many employees are more engaged with their work than ever before [1]. This isn’t to say work conditions are ideal, but there are innovative ways to connect HR teams with employees that are sure to make them feel valued, heard and recognised.

Adapting to post-pandemic realities, this year is likely to continue to challenge human resource professionals, but is expected to also see a lot of exciting developments. According to Google, these are the top HR trends for 2021:

Remote Work

This movement is here to stay in 2021, with the percentage of employees permanently working from home expected to double [2]. “The productivity metric is proving that remote work is working,” said Erik Bradley, chief engagement strategist at Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). “So, we all thought that there would be some increase in permanent remote work, but we didn’t expect that to double from pre-pandemic levels.” A recent Gartner survey revealed that over 74% of companies plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the pandemic ends [3].

Since the introduction of mass remote working last year, employers are finding ways to make it more engaging for their employees. The key is to remain flexible with employee schedules, stay connected using modern technology, allocate time for online seminars or meetings, and adopt mobile solutions to facilitate training and upskilling.


Employee well-being is more important than ever before, with an increasing amount of employees citing ‘self-care’ as a driving factor when talking about job satisfaction [4]. Self-care at work begins with recognising that in order to perform at the highest level, people need to feel at their best. This can be achieved within organisations that are employee-centric.

According to Prowell, the world renowned methodology for assessing employee wellbeing, there are 7 key components of employee wellbeing [5] which fall into three domains: mental, physical and social wellbeing. With the shift to remote work, this year it is especially important for organisations to introduce well-being programs, that ensure employees feel taken care of. Examples include practical scheduling allowing for a healthy work-life balance, gym memberships and (online) counselling services.

Employee Experience

Employee experience, one of the hottest topics in the world of HR, is sometimes confused with well-being, but these are very separate concepts. Although employee experience directly influences what employees feel, it isn’t the employees’ feelings.

Employee Experience, often referred to as EX, can be defined as ‘companies and their people working together to create personalised, authentic experiences that ignite passion and tap into purpose to strengthen individual, team, and company performance’ [6].

Organisations have control over their employee experience, are responsible for it and it is essential for their employer brand to compete effectively. It requires a human-centric approach to grasp an employee’s needs and desires to feel heard and valued. Aiming to provide employees with positive touchpoints throughout their employment lifecycle, examples of effective EX are: creating a culture of collaboration, improving the onboarding process, conducting regular engagement surveys, providing easy access to company information, and making employees feel like they belong to name a few…


Employees are increasingly purpose-driven and are looking for jobs that are personally rewarding. Millennials are certainly a factor in this trend. They comprise 30% of the population and by 2025 will represent 75% of the global workforce [7]. What they seek most from their jobs is meaningful work, flexibility, autonomy, connection and mentoring.

Candidates are actively researching an organisation’s values and how it aligns with their own. They expect a company to define their purpose and follow through in making it a reality.  


Diversity, inclusion and equity are key words in today’s workplace. New generations simply will not accept the status quo where equality isn’t the foundation. For long term success, an inclusive culture must be part of the overall corporate strategy. This strategy has to address how diversity makes an organisation better

Human Resource professionals recognise that unconscious bias is a major obstacle in achieving progress in this area. However, HR tech can improve workplace diversity and advance inclusion initiatives by holding leadership accountable to the company’s diversity goals. Technology solutions like Qualee allow leaders to pose questions to employees via surveys and empower employees to answer honestly without fear of retribution.


Data is quickly becoming HR’s most important asset. Why? Because when HR data is used to improve decisions, make employees happier, and optimize processes, it adds value to the company.

The average human resources team is sitting on a gold mine of data: recruitment statistics, career progression records, training feedback, absenteeism figures, productivity numbers, personal development reviews, competency profiles, exit interviews and survey results. The issue is that traditionally HR is seen as very people-orientated, and not so much about numbers. However, data should be a trusted source when it comes to decision-making, evaluating business impact, improving leadership, making processes more efficient and improving the overall well-being of employees.

To become a data-driven organisation, it is imperative to put in place metrics and analytics tools that allow to gather information, evaluate it and deliver a comprehensive overview.

AI Technology

Artificial Intelligence allows companies to automate, streamline and personalise a variety of facets in the HR process. Conversational AI for example can help employers with recruitment and onboarding, while AI-powered Doc Search can scan PDF documents in real-time, making their content keyword searchable via the Qualee App, thus saving employees a lot of time. Artificial Intelligence can also be used to verify documents, such as the Qualee ID verification system that can authenticate over 2,000 identity documents including passports, driving licenses, national IDs, work permits and more. Processes that would normally take days to complete, are now turned around in a matter of minutes, leading to faster and more efficient processes.  


HR is looking to make strides in a variety of areas over the next twelve months. From using AI technology to make work more efficient, promoting diversity in the workplace, and ensuring your employees have an engaging work experience, there are a variety of ways to make 2021 the best year for both your employees and your company. Let Qualee help you raise your HR department to all new heights with our employee-approved app.

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