What HR Leaders Must Do to Succeed in 2021
11Feb, 2021

What HR Leaders Must Do to Succeed in 2021

In the year 2020, the world experienced a great reset, with countless changes and finding alternate solutions to everything we know. The year forced organizations to not only pivot but also to adapt to new changes and also helped them focus on what matters most. As we are already a month into the New Year, it’s a good time to reflect on the positive changes and innovations that have been born and that will continue to impact our work in 2021. 

For everyone, uncertainty has been the theme this past year, and it is great to see how HR leaders have stepped up to the new challenge by adjusting to hybrid working. According to the SHRM survey, 71% of employers accepted that adapting to remote work has been difficult and 2 in 3 employees said maintaining employee morale is a challenge. So, considering this we are going to look at how organizations with the help of HR can succeed in 2021. 


HR will have to anticipate trends and work in new ways

A flashback of events that took place that shook the business world was the layoff of employees across all sectors that lead to mismanagement of work, lack of resources, project delays, low employee morale & engagement and even low profits for some businesses. Individuals traded their daily long commute with a small walk to the hall or room as their new workspace.

From redesigning work to work transformation, HR has gone out of their way to ease working for employees during remote working. Now as organizations are already midway to hybrid working, it is HR’s job to anticipate the trends and integrate well-being into the design of work at every level – individual, team and organization to build a sustainable future where every individual feels comfortable and performs their best. 

According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey released in 2021 mentioned that 7 in 10 executives said that their organizations’ shift to remote work had a positive impact on well-being. However, sustainability was the main problem. 


In a hybrid work environment, HR needs to work on these 7 things:

According to a survey conducted on Google staff, around 62% of employees said that they want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day. This has motivated companies to work on a hybrid model.

For people who are new to the concept, a hybrid workplace is nothing but a business model that combines remote work with office work. Just like a hybrid learning offered by some of the business schools, it’s a blend of work from home with in-office work. 

Though hybrid work has been more about freedom of when and where to work, in general, it is an opportunity to fit work with social and personal life where individuals can log in and log-off anytime they want to ensure the tasks are performed and delivered in time. However, some organizations prefer the timing to be matched or fixed as in the case of in-office work. Recently, hybrid work has been adopted by organizations where half of their employees are working remotely who cannot come to the office and the other half have started to come to the workplace and perform their tasks. 


7 things HR leaders must do to succeed in 2021:


  • Put health and safety first 

Pandemic has impacted the mental health of individuals and any return to the physical workplace will have to undergo a proper check of satisfying all health and safety requirements. From physical health to mentally assuring the employees that it is safe to travel with basic precautions, sanitization, wearing a mask and following social distancing norms. 

For example- A slight change in weather at times invites cod symptoms and we have witnessed times when we took one paracetamol and got back to work, but now these symptoms can’t be neglected and ignored. Encourage employees to take a leave or work from home when feeling any such symptoms. No matter how much ever-important work deadlines are, it is not above someone’s health. 

HRs can also revise or upgrade the medical policy for employees to reap the benefits.

Action required: Keep the office sanitized and conduct regular town halls (physically or virtually) to communicate safety protocols and address employee concerns. 


  • Practice empathy in the virtual world

With people trying to adjust to the new changes and adapt to the new environment, this often leads to change in routine and somewhere contributing to increased stress levels. Empathy is critical as there is a need for managers as well as HR leaders to understand and share the feeling of another. 

Here’s a very common example of lack of empathy at the workplace- Not every employee is fortunate with the best of amenities and infrastructure and understanding that there are difficulties to be present anytime for a video call meeting. Managers have to understand this and with help of HR make sure video conferencing protocols are known to all employees and no one is put out of ease. 

Action required: Equip managers to practice empathy and regularly sensitize employees about norms of working virtually and showing respect to all colleagues. 


  • Facilitate transparency 

The pandemic has reshaped everything, especially the way we work and interact with each other. In the year 2020, we have seen the potential and we were introduced to so many new ways to connect and communicate with each other virtually. So, this year the challenge would be to adopt one of the many platforms and stay connected with employees. 

As the representatives of the company, HR and CEOs need to reach out to everyone. Virtual employee engagement platforms allow organizations to communicate with employees, stay in touch which gives them confidence and boosts their morale.

Action required: Adopt a two-way communication where people can be transparent and equally share their thoughts. 


  • Active listening to employee voice

Research shows us time and again that employees who are heard feel more connected and are highly engaged which leads to higher productivity. It is to be noted that employees are often more open in surveys than with their managers. Doing more regular feedback sharing sessions will give real-time insights to leaders in the organization. Ask them about the weekly experience, are they facing any challenges, do they have any feedback. Go deep and dig deeper. 

Knowing how your employees are feeling every day and what impacts their mood at work will help managers and HR leaders to plan and take immediate actions. 

Action required: Run survey more often- weekly, fortnight or monthly.


  • Upskill employees

It is difficult to have an eye on every individual virtually and finding where they are going wrong in a virtual world. If you want individuals to take ownership of their work and perform more tasks with minimal supervision, the focus needs to be towards self-management. When employees can see where they currently stand and what they need to learn to meet the expectations of a future role, they are more committed to upskilling. 

For example, having every team sit together and undergo a learning and development course is difficult. HR must drive organization leaders’ attention towards gamification where the learning can be done in a fun and interactive way with a leaderboard that will encourage the employees and create healthy competition. 

Action required: Have a short gamified course organized for every team in every quarter. 


  • Introduce AI as your new business partner

For several years now, we have witnessed the power of AI in different areas of business. HR leaders can start to invest in AI tools to help them assist with recruiting, hiring candidates, communicating and even in learning and development. 

We are all familiar with the changes pandemic has caused and how important it is to work on the personalization of things at the workplace, be it recognition, monitoring mental health and improving work-life. 

Action required: Find the areas that need improvement and help better them by introducing technology and AI. 


  • Building a strong workplace culture

Build a culture where people take greater ownership of their work and appreciate each other’s efforts and are always ready to be each other’s helping hand. As COVID-19 has brought in some gaps in the work culture, HR leaders must make it an urgent priority to once again align employees with the company culture even during remote working or hybrid work. 

For example: Before the pandemic hit us, your company had an engaging culture where all team members used to spend time with each other and bond during team activities and appreciate each other’s work by giving notes to their peers. With remote working, it seems difficult to interact and bond with the team and it nearly stopped. 

Action required: Introduce social recognition and engagement platform at the workplace that will keep every individual connected during WFH  as well as hybrid workplace.   


HR plays a role of an influencer to help align the company and individual goals. To succeed at this mission, HR will have to understand the nuances of the business and then bring about transformation in the above 7 areas seamlessly. 

With Buzzz, HR leaders can enhance employee engagement and strengthen their work culture. To know more about how Buzzz can help HR leaders achieve their goals, contact us

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