No one would dispute that 2020 upended business models, priorities and plans as organizations were forced to navigate a rapidly changing environment. HR was at the forefront of initiatives to respond to a wide range of internal and external transformative trends, from employee well-being to new workforce models and social justice.
My daily conversations with senior HR leaders, along with Gartner research development, provide me with a unique perspective on the forces affecting the workplace. To that end, below are my predictions for nine trends that HR leaders can’t afford to ignore in 2021 and beyond.
Download Report: The Top HR Trends and Priorities for 2023
No. 1: Employers will shift from managing the employee experience to managing the life experience of their employees.
The pandemic has given business leaders increased visibility into the personal lives of their employees. They have realized that more effectively supporting employees in their whole lives, not just their experience as employees, directly affects their ability to perform at work.
“ Employer support for the entire employee life experience will become table stakes”
Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that employers that support employees with their life experience see a tangible increase (more than 20%) in the number of employees reporting better mental and physical health. Supportive employers can also realize a 21% increase in the number of high performers compared to organizations that don’t provide that same degree of support to their employees. In 2021, employer support for the entire employee life experience will become table stakes in employee benefits.
Download eBook: Top Priorities for HR Leaders in 2022
No. 2: More companies will adopt a stance on societal and political issues.
Employees increasingly want to work for organizations where the cultural values align with their own. In 2020, Gartner research shows that 74% of employees expect their employer to become more actively involved in the cultural debates of the day. I believe CEOs will have to respond — with action — to retain and attract the best talent. A Gartner survey found that the number of employees who were considered highly engaged increased from 40% to 60% when their organization acted on today’s social issues.
Visit now: The Future of Work Reinvented
No. 3: The gender-wage gap will continue to increase as employees return to the workplace
Many organizations have already adopted a hybrid workforce — or plan to this year — enabling employees to work from the corporate office, their home, or some alternate location (coffee shop, co-working space, etc.). In this hybrid scenario, CHROs are reporting that among their workforce, men are more likely to decide to return to their workplace and women are more likely to continue to work remotely.
“ Full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers”
A recent Gartner survey reveals 64% of managers believe that office workers are higher performers than remote workers and are likely to give in-office workers a higher raise than those who work from home. However, Gartner analysis of 2019 and 2020 data shows the opposite: Full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high performers than those who work full-time from the office.
If men are more likely to work from the office, and managers retain a bias toward in-office workers, we could see managers over-rewarding male employees at the expense of female employees.
Read more: Are You a Hybrid Workforce Champion or a Laggard?
No. 4: New regulations will limit employee monitoring.
During the pandemic, more than one out of four companies has purchased new technology, for the first time, to passively track and monitor their employees. However, many of these same companies haven’t determined how to balance employee privacy with the technology, and employees are frustrated.
Gartner research found that less than 50% of employees trust their organization with their data, and 44% don't receive any information regarding the data collected about them. In 2021, new regulations will emerge at the state and local level that will start to put limits on what employers can track about their employees.
Read more: 6 Principles for Employee Privacy