2021 HR best practices

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2021 HR Best Practices: What Business Needs Most from HR This Year

In January 2021, Tiger Recruitment hosted a webinar for HR professionals looking for guidance on 2021 HR best practices. Tiger’s Managing Director, Rebecca Siciliano, was joined by four expert speakers:

  • Mark Stelzner from IA
  • Robert Hicks from Reward Gateway
  • Marcus Thornley from Play Consulting
  • Saskia Donald, an HR professional with over 20 years experience

Together, they shared some critical insights to help human resources specialists in 2021. Over the course of the hour, the expert panel covered everything from rewards and benefits, to building remote business cultures.

Below, we highlight their 2021 HR best practices…

Take Stock

As a first priority, HR should take stock of each individuals’ circumstances. Whether through surveys or other data collection tools, the aim is to learn what the team is experiencing. Suppose a business expects to someday return to the office. In that case, HR should find out how this might work for individual workers’ changed circumstances. For example, would they prefer to come into the office every day or on an ad-hoc basis?

It’s likely the office won’t play the same role it once did for many businesses. So it’s a good idea for HR to broach this topic with leaders and begin to work out where the office will fit in future business plans.

Go Back to Basics

Start by looking at three key elements: communication, recognition, and rewards. These basic culture elements likely evolved in response to the first lockdown in March 2020, and perhaps we haven’t examined them since.

If this is the case, analyze what is and isn’t working. Use snap polls/surveys of employees and conversations with management, for example. Then develop a solution that better fits the way the business is planning to operate, post-pandemic. If the company is likely to move towards a hybrid-working model, ask:

  • How will communication work between employees working from home and those in the office?

If the business continues working remotely by default, ask:

  • How will employee recognition and rewards change to reflect that?

According to our experts, businesses should also get back to the basics of looking to their workers’ unique skills and expertise to unlock hidden talent. Mark asked the question: “Have we really created a space in this moment to ask everyone about the skills that they have?” Perhaps it’s identifying someone who has fantastic sales skills and can present a seminar on creating leads, for example. Or maybe it is an individual with great project management who can organize a task force to tackle an internal issue. In either case, HR can facilitate these sessions to help management teams better manage the challenges they’re facing.

Be Honest When Dealing with Uncertainty

In 2020, HR was relied upon to know the answers to a number of unprecedented questions, even when they may have been uncertain themselves. In looking at 2021 HR best practices, however, the experts believe HR should own their uncertainty! During the webinar, Robert said that he believes that “leaders [who] embrace [vulnerability] by saying ‘I don’t know, I’ll get back to you,’ [are] so empowering.” This transparency will contribute to a positive learning environment (as HR can work with the team to find the answer together). It will also better alleviate feelings of unease or doubt from employees.

Digital Platforms are Key to Remotely Building Business Cultures

While an effective digital platform is essential to rebuilding a remote business culture, HR needs to ensure it is inclusive, non-hierarchical, and places workers front and center. This is important as employees need to feel invested in the technology to truly harness its potential as a culture tool.

By taking the culture of the business online, an opportunity to rebuild in a much more inclusive way presents itself. For example, taking away the office and using an online platform will mean everyone has an equal opportunity to contact and be visible to managers and their teams.

HR tech is key to solving many challenges moving forward, but, the data needs to be interpreted through a human lens, and issues of accessibility also should be taken into account.

HR Needs to Facilitate Communication While Working Remotely

Internal communication must be consistent, timely, and easily accessible. If HR is unsure whether their current methods are effective, liaise with staff directly for feedback.

While video meeting software has become absolutely integral to business operations as we work remotely, as Marcus put it: “[It] isn’t the only way to communicate.” While video meetings are largely scheduled, they don’t allow much scope or flexibility for those working more ad-hoc hours. Instead, consider adopting methods of unscheduled or asynchronous communication that will work for the business. This will allow employees to continue ‘water cooler’ style conversations with colleagues.

Benefits in a Post-flexible Working Era

Many of us see flexible work as an expectation rather than a benefit, so businesses should look to other options when attracting and retaining talent. According to the experts, the most popular benefits in 2021 will center around wellbeing, learning and development, and remote working. Offering a competitive benefits package is essential to attracting top talent, as candidates may be hesitant to leave their current role if they’re concerned about job security or loyal to their current employer.

The Biggest of 2021 HR Best Practices: Look After Our Wellbeing

In our webinar, Saskia explained: “HR must put on their own life mask before helping others.” This is the perfect encapsulation of the feeling of extreme stress HR professionals have faced over the past 12 months as they’ve helped their teams through perplexing times. As 2021 is likely to be another challenging year, they may need time to rest and recover. If you’re working in HR, check on your team members and give one another space to share anxieties and decompress. If the business doesn’t provide HR these opportunities, they can’t help those around them – and may ultimately suffer from burnout.

The resilience of exceptional HR professionals will play a key role in helping businesses in 2021. From tailoring employee benefits to supporting on with strategic, people-led decisions, one thing’s for sure…

Human resources professionals have never been more crucial to business success.