What Items Should Be On Your HR Agenda In 2021?

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For many reasons, 2020 was a year unlike any other. In order to avoid future challenges, it’s crucial that HR departments prepare for the year ahead. In this article, our Chief People Officer, Ross Seychell, reveals which HR topics are on our agenda here at Personio.

At the beginning of the year, Personio published a study surveying 500 HR professionals in medium-sized companies about their daily work. The results revealed some key insights:

  • 46% of them wanted to actively help shape their company.
  • 53% wanted to work more with people.
  • 54% hardly used any digital processes at all.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, and everything changed. Almost instantly, HR departments were thrust into the spotlight. They had to orchestrate working from home, reduced working hours, and constantly changing health regulations.

They had to do all of this, while also introducing digital HR processes and, at the same time, taking on the role of motivator and mentor for employees. It was a lot to take on, and many emerged successful, but where do we go from here?

In my opinion, there are four key points for successful HR work in 2021…

Download our HR study for even more eye-opening insights.

1. Establishing Hybrid Forms of Work

Here at Personio, we have worked out a new framework for remote work that allows employees more flexibility in the “post-pandemic” world. While we will lead with an “office-first approach,” in the future our teams will be more free to decide when they want to work from home or the office.

To support our employees, we are focusing a great deal on transparency and clarity.

In addition, we are also experimenting with a pilot project involving completely remote teams. We are trying to understand how teams tackle challenges together, and how being independent from a fixed location affects their understanding of corporate culture.

How do you manage not to lose touch with one another in this kind of situation? These are questions that will weigh heavily on our minds as we try new things and observe the results.

To better support our employees, we are relying a great deal on transparency and clarity. We want teams to understand what’s in store for them, and what our plans are going to be for 2021.

This comes from recognizing that employees deserve stability and security, eliminating uncertainty to help them better perform at their work in a more relaxed environment.

In fact, I often recommend that companies of all sizes consider what they can do in terms of health promotion, wellness, and mental health, depending on their budget. Those with smaller budgets may even be able to find someone within their company qualified to run mental health or mindfulness workshops.

2. Attracting The Right Talent

At Personio, we are also going to continue making recruiting and attracting candidates a key focus. Even if your company is not currently hiring, this is still critical. That’s because, as the situation surrounding Covid-19 eases, you have to be prepared for that moment. Otherwise, when the time comes, there will be a lack of personnel to handle renewed interest and growth.

Companies need to be prepared for the moment when things start to look up. Otherwise, they will lack the personnel required during decisive moments.

Due to the economic situation — which, unfortunately, included layoffs for some companies — more good candidates are available right now than usual. But, these talented people are still choosing their potential employers quite carefully.

The culture at Personio has been a decisive factor for why people have chosen to work here. Make sure you keep that in mind.

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3. Designing A Solid People Strategy

Especially in a situation characterized by uncertainty, companies need a people strategy that provides clarity. 

A people strategy, in sum, should be closely tied to a company’s business plan, in order to help companies drive engagement, productivity, and retention while leveraging internal talent for their own growth and determining how teams are managed. 

Most importantly, solid workforce strategies are based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics. The best vision is moot if you cannot measure its success.

4. Developing Leaders

The demands on leaders are going to continue to grow. After all, they now have to lead teams that are not centrally located, and whose focus, productivity, and motivation must stay strong to maintain performance. 

It is also important to recognize psychological stress, because not all employees cope well with working from home. A recent study from Aetna International revealed that 33% of employees are worried about mental health issues such as depression while working from home. 

Therefore, managers need to exhibit increased vigilance and greater empathy. A first step, though, is to re-define the demands and expectations of leaders, in order to figure out what a leader’s career path should look like. 

Leaders need to take care of themselves. That’s the only way they can bring out the best in their team. 

That in mind, personal resilience is more important than ever for leaders. They need to take care of themselves, invest their time wisely, and get the best out of their team. Self-care and work-life balance are key here. If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot possibly take care of your employees. 

Speaking from personal experience, In recent months my network has helped me immensely. 

I have felt a true sense of solidarity amongst HR professionals, with everyone trying to support one another, with information and experiences shared in virtual meetups. Managers, in particular, can benefit from doing the same and investing in their networks now. 

This kind of “sharing,” or collaborative learning, is something that HR should definitely play a key role in encouraging. It doesn’t matter whether HR employees bring external coaches or facilitators into the company, or facilitate training within the organization. For instance, those who have been promoted internally may benefit from peer mentoring by experienced managers.

About Ross Seychell

As a business leader with 20 years of experience, I have a strong passion for how people and culture enable companies to achieve their mission. After building out commercial people functions and strategies at high-growth companies such as TransferWise and King, I recently joined Personio as a Chief People Officer to help achieve our mission to become Europe’s leading HR platform.

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