2021 HR predictions for small to medium sized businesses

In 2021 what HR themes will be of most importance to small and medium sized organisations

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There have been very few industries and businesses which have not been affected by the pandemic in some way. With the furlough scheme, regional and national lock downs resulting in forced temporary office closures and employees working from home becoming the norm, 2020 has seen a number of business firsts for many organisations. 

As 2020 comes to a close, it gives us time to take a breath, reflect and think about what issues will impact on businesses next year. But despite the vaccination advances, the repercussions of 2020 will long be felt by businesses in 2021 as we continue to adjust to the new normal. 

We outline our key predictions below and what this could mean for HR leaders and businesses in 2021.


Wellbeing Will be a Key Priority

Over the past few years, the understanding of employee wellbeing and its importance has definitely grown, and it’s safe to say that the events of 2020 have accelerated this. 

Whether it’s worrying about the health of friends and family, continued anxiety over job security, cancelled social engagements or balancing the new work home dynamic - the workforce has been tested on an unparalleled scale. In fact, the mental health and wellbeing of employees topped the list for biggest business and HR concerns in 2021. 

Businesses of all sizes will need to invest in adequate wellbeing training and practices to help the workforce through these continued issues in the year ahead.


Increased Investment in People & Skills

In 2021 and beyond we will see increased investment in people and training initiatives. In fact, 40% of businesses have already run several internal training sessions since COVID started, with 40% of CHROs actively working with the board on a long term training and development plan for employees.

Whether it’s changes brought on by the pandemic, automation or a change in business priorities, many organisations will need to future-proof the skills they have within the organisation. Those who are forward thinking should look at the talent they already have and assess how they can invest in, and upskill that talent. 


Increased Support is Needed for Seasonal Careers 

Many industries, such as the theatre and hospitality industries, still face ongoing disruptions and those that work in them will likely find themselves having to take on additional work during lockdown closures. 

We predict that in the years ahead we will find the rise of seasonal careers far more commonplace than ever before, creating a demand for more flexible and interchangeable contracts for employees. 

More businesses will be investing in reskilling of their employees

With redundancies expected to peak at Easter 2021, many more businesses will be looking to retrain or reskill their employees to maximise productivity in the face of a continued uncertain economic future.  The pandemic has highlighted the need for medium sized businesses to be more dynamic and responsive to change which can be achieved through a more agile workforce. 
If they have not already started, businesses need to start workforce planning and look at alternatives to redundancies to retrain skilled talent whilst ensuring that the business can achieve its business goals in 2021. 

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