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2020’s Impact on HR – What Changes Are Here to Stay?

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This year HR leaders have guided their companies through an incredibly challenging landscape. I genuinely hope that businesses have recognised the importance of a commercially aligned People function and how well they have supported the business during this pandemic. 

2021 will continue to be a very interesting and busy time for HR. Following many insightful discussions with my HR network, I wanted to recap on the positive initiatives that have emerged in 2020 that will likely carry into next year and beyond.  

 

1) Overall flexibility has worked. Traditionalists have come full circle and moved businesses on by years, which would not have happened pre pandemic. Companies will need to consider what flexible working arrangements mean for their culture. We are already seeing more roles being created within HR around Organisational Effectiveness with a strong focus on talent, culture, values and diversity.  

 

2) Breakdown of organisational hierarchy and increased connectivity; creating a psychologically safe environment has been significant this year. Communication flows have become much more open and transparent. There has been much more altruism and empathy shown towards colleagues. When talking to one of my HR professionals, she shared that her CEO has been giving weekly podcasts to all employees and openly shared how he has learnt to iron duvet covers for the first time in his life! And the move to virtual communications, provided a window into our colleagues work from home lives, where we’ve met a lot more of their pets and children than prior to this pandemic! But seriously there really have been some lovely initiatives shared this year; whether it is podcasts, internal radio shows, virtual exercise classes/drinks/bake offs etc. All of which has helped keep a sense of togetherness during this time. 

 

3) More innovative ways of working. Pulse surveys have replaced annual employment surveys; shorter, sharper with an increased focus on wellness and mental health. Through re-designing goals and in some cases moving from annual performance reviews to more regular peer to peer feedback companies have received far higher completion rates on these surveys and more positive and honest feedback from their employees. 

 

4) Shifts in the interview process. As we look deeper into the capability of our people from an EQ perspective, it is definitely time for a more innovative approach to interviewing rather than the series of traditional competency based questions and psychometric tests. 

 

5) The increased focus on Wellness has been a huge positive across organisations this year and we are seeing newly created roles within HR such as, Head of Health and Wellbeing. Mental health and wellbeing must continue to be at the forefront, especially as so many employees have experienced burnout this year. 

 

6) Learning is being liberated; rather than waiting for change to happen L&D professionals need to be at the heart of change and we have seen a shift from delivery to more active learning and enablers. Time is tight for everyone at the moment so rather than lengthy learning sessions there is a shift to bite size content – podcasts, video clips, curated links, infographics, forum discussions etc. 

 

7) Inclusion and psychological safety. This has really resonated with our team this year: hiring diverse individuals’ means little when they don’t feel included. I really hope we see some positive and practical initiatives being delivered and a cultural shift towards inclusivity, allyship and accountability.

 

8) The importance of data; it is the businesses who are using a data-driven approach to identifying and analysing people-related problems combined with being a visible HR partner who are able to make more informed decisions. 

 

Given the magnitude of HR’s role this year it is certainly time for professionals across the function to take a well-deserved break. I hope you are able to enjoy the holiday period, relax and arrive into 2021 with the energy, resilience and positivity that 2020 has tested us all on. Let’s recognise how far we have come and what this year has taught us. And let’s keep hold of those positives. 

 

Thank you to our HR community and to those who have supported Elliott Scott HR. I am now going to get ready for our much needed virtual team Christmas party… 

 

 

Wishing you all a happy holiday and a healthy 2021.  


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