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HR Trends: What to Expect in 2021

What a year we had! The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for everyone, and left employers and employees with questions never considered before, like"What if an employee doesn't want to wear a mask?" and "Can employees work from home if they don't have childcare?" As HR consultants, we've been working hard to provide the most up-to-date guidance and advice to our clients, as we all adapt to this new (and ever-changing) normal.

As we close out 2020, these are the key HR and workplace trends we saw develop and foresee continuing next year. Here's are 6 trends to expect in 2021:

1. Enhanced Benefits

With the effects of the COVID-19 virus affecting millions of families across the U.S., strong health coverage is more critical than ever. As organizations review their benefits, consider whether or not your packages are adequate for employees, and consider asking for feedback on additional offerings they’d like to see. Telehealth coverage that supports distanced care is going to continue to grow and is another convenient offering for employees.

Other customized benefit options to consider to help hire and retain top talent are: critical illness insurance, exercise equipment reimbursement, adoption and fertility assistance, identity theft protection, legal insurance and pet insurance.

2. Expanded Mental Health Support

Whether through insurance coverage, employee assistance programs or additional offerings, these stressful times require support from employers, and this year we’ll see more and more companies putting in effort to support mental health. Consider what your organization is doing to help employees who may be struggling or feeling burnt out.

3. Transparency

It’s crucial to be honest with employees and that they feel in-the-know about changes within the company. For example, if you’re forced to cut benefits or forego raises to stay afloat, be sure to provide clear communication about it and how it will affect employees.

4. Flexible Work Options

If the pandemic has showed organizations one thing, it’s that working from home can be a viable option, even in cases where it was previously thought impossible. Managers are realizing that employees are able to manage without strict oversight and are sometimes even more productive from home.

Offering flexible work options also provides an increased work-life balance, which some may miss as they head back into the office in 2021. Expect workers to continue to push for freedom in terms of how they work and where they work, and be prepared to offer options.

5. Upskilling

This year, many used the extra time at home to take online courses, Master Classes, gain certifications, attend webinars and more. Employees will appreciate those opportunities to continue developing their skills as we shift back to a traditional day, so management should consider how they want to provide continuing education and personal development opportunities. It’s also important to remember that advancing your employees skills also increases retention and employee satisfaction.

6. No More Zoom Happy Hours

The novelty of virtual happy hours is slowly losing its luster, and by the end of the week, most workers are burnt out from on-screen meetings. This year, I expect employers will give the gift of time back to employees and lessen the amount of casual video meetups and even encourage blocked “no meeting days,” to recharge.

What are your thoughts? Did we leave something out? Please share in the comments below!


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