5 Strategic HR Priorities For 2021 – Future Office®

This text initially appeared at Forbes.com on Could 28, 2021.

HR leaders have at all times performed an important function of their organizations, however the Covid-19 pandemic has thrust HR into the management highlight. Within the course of, HR has change into “important employees” to make sure a protected and wholesome return to the office.

Future Office got down to perceive the lasting influence of Covid-19 on work, the office and the workforce, and what this implies for the strategic priorities of HR. A latest survey of 349 employees by Pearl Meyer, the compensation agency, finds roughly one-third of the full workforce will proceed to completely work at home put up the pandemic. And, importantly, practically one third of employers will apply geographic differentials to wage construction for distant employees that transfer to lower-cost places.

In opposition to this backdrop of lasting modifications to the place and the way we work, Future Office partnered with Boston College’s Questrom Faculty of Enterprise HRPI, a community of CHROs, to survey 200 C-level HR leaders on the modifications they have been making to their folks methods.

The Future Office 2021 HR Sentiment Survey, identifies 5 strategic priorities HR leaders discover important, and they’re proven in Determine 1.

As firms remodel the place workers work and the way they work, the main target might be on particular person human considerations not simply organizational ones. That is clearly coming via in our analysis. The turmoil of 2020 has put a highlight on worker well-being and psychological well being (68%), together with variety, fairness and inclusion (67%) as high priorities for HR, proven in Determine 2.

Listed below are our high 5 findings and the implications of return to work on folks practices.

#1 Make Nicely-Being and Psychological Well being A Enterprise Mandate

A 2020 American Psychological Affiliation survey of three,409 working adults discovered that 78% often really feel confused, and 20% mentioned their psychological well being had worsened for the reason that prior yr. Employees cited a number of stressors, together with lack of separation between work and residential, unmanageable workloads and worries over job safety. Already, job stress and its adverse results on psychological well being value U.S. employers practically $300 billion yearly.

This survey was adopted by one carried out by Lyra Well being in 2021, which discovered that one quarter of 1000 working adults reported their psychological well being declined over the previous yr, with diagnosable psychological well being circumstances doubling. As well as, 71% of job seekers now anticipate their potential employer to supply psychological well being advantages.

Firms have an actual stake in assuaging this example, and we see some responding. Salesforce started scheduling periodic “well-being Fridays” in 2020 once they noticed folks weren’t taking trip. The mandated days off inspired workers to disconnect and recharge.

 Our 2021 HR Sentiment Survey discovered employers providing new well-being and psychological well being advantages, akin to; entry to meditation app Headspace, health app  Aaptive,  telemedicine visits and, importantly, a revamping of versatile work insurance policies together with job sharing, versatile work hours and even some firms providing a monetary bonus for taking a one-week trip. (PwC introduced all workers can obtain a $250 bonus every time they take a full week’s trip for the following yr, with the potential to proceed this program into the longer term.)

#2 Embed Range, Fairness And Inclusion In The Tradition Of The Group

CEOs, Chief Range Officers (CDOs) and CHROs understand that actual motion, funding and accountability is required round DEI. As proven in Determine 3, practically each HR chief we surveyed reported new measures are being taken akin to defining metrics for DEI (92%), inspecting compensation for pay fairness (96%), specifying inclusive behaviors for DEI (94%) and forming new partnerships to broaden the expertise pool and faucet numerous expertise (85%).

What’s extra, the Future Office 2021 HR Sentiment Survey discovered 43% of firms surveyed are publicly sharing their targets for variety, fairness and inclusion, and one other 38% of organizations plan to take this step by the tip of 2021. In actual fact, some like BCG Group are making a Range Fairness and Inclusion Annual Report with a plan to report on the variety of its new hires, its companions, and its shoppers.

#3 Construct A Holistic Worker Expertise For Each On-Web site Employees And Distant Employees

The worker expertise has endlessly modified. Whereas some employees will return to bodily work environments full time, many professionals might be part of the brand new hybrid office, sitting someplace on the continuum between all in-person and all distant work. The HP Spirit program is an instance of how worker expertise is now being expanded and prolonged past the person employee to your entire household unit.

Generally known as the HP Spirit program, this holistic program contains:

  • Well being & Nicely-being advantages and apps for on-site and distant employees
  • Training on how to achieve success as a distant employee and help for fogeys charged with managing dwelling education
  • Outlined Work Flexibility applications, together with versatile work choices, job sharing and pay for taking a trip
  • Neighborhood occasions for the household and arranged listening periods

HP Spirit is only one of many new methods organizations are increasing the scope and nature of well-being and psychological well being advantages in addition to extending them to your entire household.

#4 Undertake Agile Work Practices

Our 2021 HR Sentiment survey discovered eight out of ten respondents say driving innovation and progress is an organizational strategic precedence, as proven in Determine 4. This interprets into HR looking for out expertise exterior of HR skilled in agile work practices, akin to iterative considering to create minimal viable merchandise and worker journey mapping to create a human centered strategy to new HR merchandise.

#5 Digitize HR For Aggressive Benefit

The digital transformation of HR has gained steam in 2021 as organizations use applied sciences akin to digital actuality, augmented actuality and digital nudges to personalize all features of the worker life cycle.

Digitizing HR not solely drives innovation but in addition solves enterprise issues. As an example, analysis exhibits that workers go away organizations if there isn’t a visibility into their profession progress. A examine of 32 million profiles of lively LinkedIn customers who’ve labored at a bigger firm (over 500 workers) since 2013, discovered the chance of an worker staying with an organization decreases because the years move. One yr after being employed, there’s a 76 % likelihood the employee might be with the corporate. By yr 5 estimated retention is at 38 %. Voluntary attrition is now being addressed with AI powered options. Schneider Electrical is one firm tackling this problem with the launch of its Open Expertise Market (OTM), an AI-powered platform which matches expertise to alternative on a world scale. Used for worker retention, this software cuts the time to establish new inside jobs, mentoring or stretch assignments from 3-4 weeks to 30-60 seconds.

The Highway Forward

As we enter 2022, the modifications in how we work, the place we work, who we work with and the applied sciences we use are right here to remain. Many of those modifications began previous to the pandemic, however have been swiftly accelerated by Covid-19, and have change into everlasting features of the office.

On the core of those modifications is the emergence of the hybrid office, the place some employees are on-site others work in a hybrid distant foundation, a part of the time on-site and the relaxation on-site with some workers distant completely. This new approach of working impacts how work will get completed, the office and the workforce. The hybrid office is coming into focus and the particular definition of what “hybrid means” might be distinctive to every group and certain will rely on a mixture of components such because the duties and workflows related to job roles, the worker preferences and their particular dwelling environments of employees, and the values and tradition of the group. Beneath are some key questions to handle in your journey to making a hybrid office:

Particular person Employees

  1. What job roles will proceed to be in-person, distant and a few mixture of the 2?
  2. Will your group apply geographic differentials to employee’s wage constructions, both for all workers or in sure conditions?
  3. How will your group help distant employees? What mixture of expertise, instruments, psychological well being advantages, digital networking, distant working coaching and monetary help for dwelling workplace provides will your group help?


  1. How will your group guarantee distant employees are on equal footing with on-site employees throughout conferences and entry to skilled improvement and mentoring alternatives?
  2. How will your folks practices and workplace area change as distant working turns into everlasting for a phase of your employees?
  3.  What’s your versatile work coverage and the way is that this communicated to the workforce?


  1. How is your group defining and speaking versatile work practices?
  2. What sort of hybrid office is your group creating? For instance, what new training is being provided to distant employees? How are psychological well being advantages expanded to households?
  3. What new jobs are being created for the hybrid office to achieve success? In my HBR article, 21 HR Jobs of the Future, my coauthor and I recognized 21 new HR jobs on the horizon. Two particularly are associated to efficiently making a hybrid office: Distant Work Chief, liable for oversight of the group’s processes, insurance policies and applied sciences for profitable distant; and Director of Nicely-Being, liable for offering strategic administration of holistic well-being to make sure psychological, bodily, emotional and monetary well-being. We’re seeing these new jobs emerge and we are going to proceed to see their progress within the coming years as hybrid workplaces and workforce change into the brand new regular of working.

Whereas every group’s definition of the hybrid office will fluctuate, all would require a detailed partnership between HR, IT, Actual Property, Services and Communications.

One of many keys to creating the hybrid office profitable is for leaders to steer with an inclusive mindset, which requires articulating an genuine dedication to variety, difficult the established order recognizing work occurs the place employees are, and holding managers accountable for creating an inclusive work setting for all workers-on-site and distant.

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