The job of an HR professional is extensive. A typical HR department is responsible for recruitment, payroll, attendance management, performance reviews, and employee relations—just to name a few. It seems like HR departments are expected to take on more and more responsibility each year, particularly amid the unprecedented COVID-19-related disruptions to the workplace we all experienced in 2020.

This means HR teams must continually look for ways to innovate and keep up with current industry trends if they want to stay competitive in the marketplace. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top five trends in HR that businesses will want to pay attention to in 2021.

Trend #1: Employee Wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered the perception of what a “safe and healthy” work environment looks like. Prior to 2020, any business with a wellness program may have qualified in the eyes of their employees as safe and healthy.

Now, it means something much different. In 2021, expect a heightened focus on taking a more well-rounded approach to employee wellness. Baseline efforts for employers should include safeguards against COVID-19, but many employers will likely go beyond illness prevention to focus on holistic wellness.

Many organizations have already transitioned to employing this approach, and others will certainly follow suit. These initiatives take into account various aspects of employees’ wellness, including components of physical, mental, financial, and emotional health—both in and outside of the workplace.

Holistic wellness strategies for employers may include implementing mental health programs, dependent care assistance, and flexible scheduling. Focusing on these areas can encourage health, happiness, and productivity among employees.

Trend #2: Greater Inclusivity

While much of 2020 was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, significant efforts were also devoted to stemming racial inequity. World-wide protests in the summer induced a national conversation about diversity in almost every context—including the workplace. This prompted many businesses to make statements about committing to more diverse representation in their ranks.

For tips about how your business can improve its diversity and inclusion efforts, check out our blog series:

Trend #3: Expanded Remote Work

According to FlexJobs, a staggering 41.8% of the American workforce was working remotely at the end of 2020. An estimated 26.7% will still be working from home through 2021, and 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025. This represents an 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to the pandemic!

To keep pace with this rapidly expanding trend, employers can consider increasing their own remote opportunities, as applicable. While this may not be feasible in all situations, it might be an option for some positions. Doing so will help provide a safeguard against COVID-19 –while also serving as an attractive recruitment perk. Moreover, remote positions give hiring managers greater flexibility when considering qualified candidates, as recruiting remote workers allows them to expand talent pools to any area with an internet connection.

Trend #4: Onboarding, Reimagined

Employers had to reimagine the onboarding process in 2020—and will, no doubt, continue modifying and improving it in 2021. For many HR teams, this has meant transitioning to an entirely virtual onboarding process, while maintaining the same level of quality.

Virtual onboarding may include remote meetings via webcams, online quizzes, video tutorials, and other creative methods of educating new employees remotely. Even among employers that have reopened, developing these processes now will put HR teams ahead of the game in the event of another COVID-19 wave or shutdown.

For help navigating the process, check out our blog post: Recruiting and On-Boarding New Employees in a Remote Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic affected virtually every aspect of the workplace last year, and that influence will linger far beyond 2021. Entire business operations are being reimagined and reevaluated. Employers will need to adapt quickly if they want to compete in this rapidly evolving landscape.