Few could have anticipated the events of 2020. HR leaders across the country found themselves in the midst of a global pandemic that continues to blight many sectors in 2021 and the uncertainty throughout the year compounded the need for talented HR professionals.
As they navigated furlough schemes, unfortunate redundancies and remote work; HR leaders quickly became the first port of call for employees seeking reassurance and guidance during these turbulent times.
Here at Natural HR, our annual ‘state of HR’ survey continues to shed light on our people professionals, what they are planning for the year ahead and what they expect to be challenging.
Clearly, 2020 was a year overshadowed by COVID-19 and one that put the even best-laid plans on hold for HR as they supported businesses through the pandemic. Budgets were cut, staff were placed on furlough or made redundant and entire sectors ground to a halt; but what are HR leaders hoping for in 2021?
This year, we surveyed over 100 HR leaders from all walks of life to find out exactly that. In this post, you’ll find some of the key trends and findings from our research that outline what HR leaders have planned for 2021.
Health and wellbeing a priority
If it wasn’t a priority before, 2020 was the year where employee health and wellbeing became a matter of great importance for many business leaders. According to our research, 65% of HR leaders cite health and wellbeing as a priority in 2021.
The impact of COVID-19, working from home, and social distancing measures have highlighted the need for comprehensive health and wellbeing policies that fully support employees. In a year where everything was turned on its head, the onus has been on HR leaders to develop new ways of supporting their employees’ health and wellbeing.
Champions of mental health
Research by mental health charity, Mind, found that more than half of adults said that their mental health has gotten worse during the period of lockdown restrictions. Of the initiatives being championed by HR leaders in 2021, 73% of our respondents will be promoting mental health initiatives.
It is encouraging that such large swathes of HR leaders are putting the support of their employees’ mental health at the top of their list throughout this challenging time.
There are several situations which have arisen as a result of COVID-19 that have detrimentally affected some employees’ mental health. Being furloughed or made redundant are particularly difficult to manage at any time in our lives, let alone during a time of lockdowns and social distancing. Even working from home can be challenging – especially if some of your employees live by themselves.
Plagued by inefficiencies and admin
In a year of changing guidance, advice and policy updates; it hardly comes a surprise that inefficiencies and admin topped the list of challenges that HR leaders are experiencing.
Working from home in a profession that thrives on personal interaction and is built on a foundation of policies and procedures is undoubtedly a battle for HR leaders. 43% of our respondents cited inefficiencies and admin as their biggest challenge in 2021. This was followed closely by the impact of COVID-19, with 37% of HR leaders citing the pandemic as a challenge.
What’s more, over a third of HR leaders expect the impact of COVID-19 to be a lasting challenge well into 2021 and beyond.
HR tech take-up soars
We all looked to technology in 2020 to support us through lockdown, and it seems that HR is no different. Almost 80% of our respondents already use HR technology with a further 10% planning to introduce software within the next 12 months. Of those that are using HR technology, a staggering 83% said it was important to their strategy in 2021.
They reported a number of business and departmental benefits of using such systems. The most common benefits experienced included: reduced HR admin (58%), going paperless (56%) and improved employee user experience (42%).
Despite one of the most challenging years many HR leaders will ever face, they are making the best out of a difficult situation and doing everything they can do to ensure the wellbeing, happiness and morale of their people. They can
What is clear from this research is that the desire of HR leaders across the nation to support, empower and engage their people is at an all-time high.
To read the report in full, please click here.