As society continues to cope with the impact of 2020, Dan Sines examines what HR teams can expect as they push forward in 2021.
In 2020, we all faced significant challenges as we adjusted to the global pandemic. For many businesses, the economic downturn required them to face the tough decision to furlough or lay off large swaths of employees — in some cases, entire departments. For HR teams, their roles within the organization have shifted, consolidated, or focused, with challenges varied from finding ways to stay connected with furloughed employees to finding the right candidate among hundreds for one position, all while coping with their own teams being reduced.
As HR teams continue to reel from the craziness of 2020, I took a moment to reflect on the past year and think through what HR teams can expect in 2021.
Leveraging automation to streamline processes
Before the pandemic, the labor market was quite shallow, forcing many businesses to hire candidates who may have not been the right fit for their open positions. As certain industries continue to feel the impact of the pandemic, others are facing a wave of applicants.
For HR teams to drive recovery and cope with any surge of applicants they must automate the various stages of the talent acquisition and employee engagement process. This means spending the time now to find solutions that can help manage and sort out quality candidates from each position, seeking out those who have the ability to learn, change, and adjust. By investing now in these tools and processes, you can work out the kinks and ensure an optimized recovery.
While our industry has seen significant developments in automation over the last few years, 2021 will be the year every HR team will streamline at least one major process—screening, assessment, onboarding—through software automation.
Internal shifts for HR teams
Throughout 2020, companies were forced to optimize their HR teams, with many combining talent acquisition and employee engagement responsibilities into one team. In 2021, I expect to see HR teams experience even more strategic consolidation. As companies focus more time and attention on the customer experience, marketers are connecting with teams to find better ways to impact the experience at every touchpoint. Oftentimes, these touchpoints' success or failure is dependent on the employees customers interact with, whether that be on the store floor, through a call center, or elsewhere.
For this reason, I expect to see more HR teams collaborate directly with marketing teams in 2021. Talent acquisition for large enterprises is already quite similar to consumer marketing; many of the advertisements Walmart, Amazon, and their competitors have run over the last year have highlighted the employee experience above any specific products. For this reason, it is even more critical that companies build the best candidate experience they can. Right now the process is broken; candidates don’t receive enough feedback, and the feedback they do receive is not tailored to them. 2021 is the time to stop saying we want to fix things, and take the action to make the experience better.
In addition to the combining of teams, we’ll start to see the C-Suite shift perspective on the way they view HR. No longer can HR teams be seen as a cost-center, they must be viewed as the true revenue drivers they are (much like marketing). Companies are their people, first and foremost, so the better we enable HR to do their jobs through automation, selection, and retention, the faster our companies will recover, and the better our financial outcomes.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion makes way in recruiting
Many companies are focused on how to measure DEI, but are not actually coming up with solutions to solve the issue. While 2021 will not be the year that HR leaders guide their companies to overcome a lack of diversity, I think it will be the year companies finally identify the places where bias seeps into their talent attraction and employee engagement processes. Certain assessments, interview questions, and even managing styles have been tailored to the preferences of the default majority. This year, companies with bold leadership will finally start to dismantle some of that bias and pave the way for greater diversity, equity, and most importantly, inclusion in 2021 and beyond.
Although 2020 presented significant challenges requiring all of us to make adjustments, it provided many companies with a wake up call on many of their outdated processes and solutions. In 2021, HR teams have an opportunity to streamline processes by incorporating technology, highlighting itself as a revenue driver rather than a cost-center and ultimately, improving both the customer and employee experience.
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