What will HR look like in 2021?

The skills HR needed to thrive have changed since the pandemic

What will HR look like in 2021?

As we look forward into 2021, pinning our collective hopes on a successful vaccine, it’s time to consider what our future leaders will look like – and how COVID-19 has changed the dynamic.

The skills needed to thrive in this new age are somewhat changed since the pandemic – with organizations now looking for HR leaders who can help build employer competencies.

According to a recent Gartner report, 68% of HR practitioners claim they’ll be focusing on upskilling – as well as prioritizing organizational redesign (46%) and leadership (44%).

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Speaking in the report, Mark Whittle, VP, advisory at Gartner, added: “As organizations move from their initial pandemic response to more sustainable operations, they’re trying to build resilience into everything, from strategy to work design, so as to enable the organization, its leadership and employees to sense and respond to change, repeatedly.”

There’s no denying that COVID-19 has changed the way HR leaders operate – as the C-Suite now fully recognises the importance of employee wellbeing and mental health.

HRD spoke to Angela Champ, president of Lean In Canada - a community of professional women empowering each other to build purposeful and fulfilling careers.

Read more: How to lead when your team is tired and jaded            

Champ revealed how she believes the pandemic has revolutionised HR’s role for ever.

“COVID-19 has forced organizations to acknowledge that they need their employees – and revealed the importance of their customers,” she told us.

“HR's role has changed, or will change, as it focuses on talent management, on engagement, on employer brand, and wellness both physical, mental, social, and financial.

“HR will be working more closely with operations and with finance than it has in the past, less as a discrete function but more as an integral part of an organization's strategy and success.”

This focus on adaptability and collaboration will define HR in the coming months. Leaders need to be able to wear many different hats – to finesse a myriad of skills.

“Adaptability is going to be key in 2021,” Dr Jarik Conrad, senior director, human insights & HCM evangelism at Ultimate Kronos Group (UKG), told HRD. “We’ve learned the importance of adaptability throughout the past few months – so continuing to practice this will be paramount.

“We’re going through a very particular set of crises right now- and there will be others to follow. Having people on your team who know how to respond to chaos is important.”

What do you think HR will look like in 2021? Tell us in the comments.

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