In terms of changes in the workplace, 2020 was a rollercoaster. There’s no denying that business models had to change quickly to keep up with demand.

Some countries found the global shift toward home working easier than others. The Netherlands, for example, already had a hybrid system and did not find itself overwhelmed by the pandemic. France and the U.K., however, didn't fare so well.

Most companies weren’t prepared for a move to home working, much less one that came at such short notice. HR departments have had to adapt and grow rapidly to meet ever-changing business needs, and human resources software will be a top priority for businesses moving into 2021.

In this article, we look at the top 10 HR trends for the coming year.

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Hybrid office environments

The most obvious change going into 2021 is the move toward hybrid offices. Employers are looking at ways to reduce the cost of running offices and make home working more practical. This will mean implementing new technologies and other programs like Skype, which allow remote work to take place seamlessly.

HR departments will need to be more aware of employee needs as hybrid offices become the norm. Cloud storage will become a precious commodity and your company should look for new ways of document sharing without cluttering your inbox.

Retention and engagement

The hybrid office environment has many advantages, but one of the biggest challenges will be keeping staff engaged. Staff who are engaged in their workplace are proven to be more invested in the company and to work harder. One way to do this is through effective email communication.

Engagement also has a direct impact on employee retention, and strong retention positively affects a company’s bottom line. High staff turnover can damage a reputation, and in an ever-more-transparent world, reputation is everything.

Employee well-being

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the value of happy employees. Staff well-being is trending big in 2021, and HR professionals are recognizing the need for well-being-at-work initiatives.

These initiatives impact more than just staff engagement and retention; they help to cut the unexplained sick days that cost the economy millions each year.

One of the biggest challenges facing HR departments is finding simple ways to implement these initiatives. If employees find well-being programs hard to access or are not given the freedom to access them by managers, uptake will be low.

Whether it's a virtual mindfulness session or virtual community event, HR departments should be investing heavily in well-being.

Learning and development

What better way to show staff you value them than by investing in their learning and development? Upskilling and training the workers you have will enable them to do their job better and grow in confidence. It will also help them progress through the ranks and make sure your employees feel valued and secure.

HR departments will be relying more on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for staff development in 2021. This should be used to increasingly tailor learning and development opportunities to the individual employee.


Jobseekers aren’t only interested in the amount of money they’ll earn at a company; they now want to work for brands that share their values. The push toward personalization in the workplace will not only help you recruit the right staff but engage current employees by making them feel valued.

HR departments can use AI software to ensure they keep up with the personalization trend. Companies should take the same approach to recruit and retain staff as they adopt for onboarding customers.

Employee experiences should be unique to each individual and in keeping with their core values.

Staff tracking

Companies may trust their employees, but staff tracking software is still an essential part of remote working. HR departments need to be able to analyze the effectiveness and productivity of staff. Tracking software allows them to do this with real, data-driven analytics.

There is more than just productivity at stake; businesses need to use staff tracking software to limit the risk of corporate espionage and confidentiality breaches.

They should also invest in cybersecurity software to protect their remote workforce from cyberattacks.

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There has been a notable rise in the gig economy in the last few years, as more and more people choose to work on their own terms, and businesses are now recognizing the advantages of onboarding contractors to work on projects.

In 2021, HR professionals will have to manage teams of full-time staff and freelancers alike. There will be a push toward people management software and collaboration tools for HR that allow for collaborative working on a global scale.

Robot processing automation

Robot processing automation (or RPA) will see a sharp rise in 2021. It’s a process that allows computer software or bots to observe, mimic, and execute human tasks.

This software will carry out repetitive and mundane tasks like resume screening and travel and expense claims. This will free up around 40% of HR time and allow HR teams to focus on strategic initiatives instead.

Corporate responsibility

The pandemic has created a culture of social awareness. People no longer want to be an unwitting contributor to injustice and are drawn to companies whose values they admire. Ultimately, companies who are transparent in their values and employ good leaders will win the war for talent in 2021.

There will also be a push to put the human at the center of the workplace, ensuring a culture of accountability and responsibility.

Improved workplace culture

Although the pandemic has pulled people apart, there seems to be a bigger push than ever to come together. HR will have to pay particular attention to diversity and inclusion practices in 2021. Diverse workspaces and safe workplaces are going to be the norm going forward.

Remote working will bring about staff meetings and interactions that are recorded or monitored. This means there will be less opportunity for blame-shifting or bullying.

HR departments will be pushing toward collaborative and creative working where mistakes are not penalized.

2021: the year of automation

Whatever trends pop up in 2021, one thing is for sure: this will be the year of automating, improving, and refining HR processes, both in-house and out.