Founder and CEO at Purple Squirrel Advisors, Retained Search Advisor, Middle Market and Private Equity Talent Specialist.
The changes brought about by the pandemic will likely have long-lasting impacts on the job market. While technology and processes shifted, I’ve observed that the differences in mindset have been the most profound changes. Going into 2021, here are some trends that I believe you can expect to see:
1. Safer Work Environments
Workplace safety isn’t just a topic for manufacturing and warehouse environments. Employers need to have policies and procedures in place to make sure their office workers feel safe, too. Cleaning procedures, temperature checks, health surveys and sick time policies all need to be documented and communicated to the people in your company.
2. Schedule Flexibility
Flexible work schedules are on the rise, with the need for many employers to accommodate families who have school-aged children learning from home. Prior to the pandemic, flexibility was seen as a perk. Now, it is much more than that. To attract and retain talent, it has become a necessity. Offering this flexibility can benefit companies as well. Providing flexible schedules can result in increased morale and productivity while also reducing stress. Empower your HR leaders to be creative in their approach to flexible scheduling as it can have an impact on strengthening your company brand.
3. Virtual Company Culture
Companies need to find a way to maintain their corporate culture in a virtual setting. Make it a priority to dedicate time to developing a plan that ensures you focus on employee engagement. Oftentimes, you can stick to your normal employee engagement practices, but in a virtual setting. Host online meetings, networking or team-building exercises while also welcoming feedback. To attract and retain talented individuals, companies will need to communicate how they have taken care of their employees during this difficult time.
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4. Mental Health And Wellness Benefits
There is an added focus on health care benefits and wellness initiatives. Employees will continue to directly compare their current benefits to the benefits offered at prospective employers, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellness. These factors will weigh heavily in their decision-making process. So, what steps are you taking for employees outside of the typical benefit coverage? Do you offer flexible schedules, additional time off, or employee check-ins? These can serve as major differentiators in retaining your talented workforce.
5. Increased Online Presence
Digital presence is more important now than ever before. Companies should allocate their spending toward innovative technology and digital events versus in-person events.
6. Selective Candidates
Despite unemployment levels being higher, recruitment will still be challenging. Candidates are being selective in their job moves, and companies will need to put their best foot forward to demonstrate that they’re an employer of choice. It is also important to approach with a strong initial offer, as many candidates are hesitant to make a move during the pandemic. Many companies may be operating under the assumption that they have the upper hand amid the pandemic, but that is not entirely true, especially for individuals who are currently employed.
7. Additional Cybersecurity
There will be an increased need to mitigate cyber risk. With a great percentage of the workforce accessing systems from home, cyber thieves will continue to exploit weaknesses to steal customer data. Ransomware attacks on companies pose a significant threat. These threats will require companies to invest time and resources into cybersecurity. Ensure that individuals working from home have the proper resources and support from IT to ensure they are protected. Investing in a strong IT function has become more important than ever before. An additional best practice is to limit the number of clouds in which you are storing data. While multi-cloud approaches are convenient for storing data, they can also pose a security risk.
8. A Lack Of Talent
Certain job functions and industries will continue to see surging demand and difficulty finding talent. As a company that matches talent with businesses, some of the positions that we’ve observed need to be filled include: registered nurses, nursing assistants and personal care aids in health care; customer service agents with call centers; sales professionals in retail; software developers in technology; and drivers and fulfillment specialists in logistics and transportation.
9. Local Operations
Expect to see an added emphasis on local production and operations, as opposed to global. The pandemic has had a drastic impact on supply chains, sourcing and sales for those operating on a global level. The added security that local operations provide will be top of mind for many organizations heading into 2021. Shifting operations to a domestic level can also better contribute to the local economy and help on an environmental level as well.
10. More Innovation
Innovation will be at the forefront in 2021. The pandemic forced many businesses to pivot and innovate to stay afloat. Yet, some have experienced newfound success because of the changes that they were forced to make. This should lead to an added emphasis on fostering cultures of creativity and innovation. Businesses should encourage creativity and calculated risks in the year 2021. Consumer preferences continue to evolve as people grapple with the effects of the pandemic. I’ve also seen an added emphasis on the importance of leveraging technology and expect that trend to carry into the new year.
As we anticipate future workplace trends, it becomes clear that 2021 will require the workplace as we know it to adapt and change. The year 2020 accelerated innovation and further brought technology to the forefront. We will see a shift in not only day-to-day processes but a change in mindset as well. At the end of the day, the anticipated workplace trends leave companies and employees better suited to face the challenges that lie ahead.