Is HR future-ready for the emerging trends in 2021 and beyond?


The year 2020 will go into the annals of history as one of the years with the most unprecedented and disruptive changes mankind has witnessed in its recent history. The pandemic has reset the ‘new normal’ in every walk of life and led to a ‘new world order’ encompassing every aspect of humanity. 

The world of business and work, both have transformed hugely in the COVID era and no function is untouched. The HR fraternity needs to ponder over – Is HR future-ready for the emerging trends in 2021 and beyond amidst the changing landscape of HR function? 

Here are the top six global emerging trends in the HR function which are redefining and  transforming it to manage increasingly hybrid workplaces and diverse workforce, largely  working remotely: 

Top six global emerging Trends in HR in 2021 and beyond: 

1. Organisation transformation and change:

Most of the organisations around the world are facing enormous business challenges ahead and working tirelessly to set the reset button for fast recovery.  

The fast pace and disruptively changing business and market dynamics resulted in a huge shift in consumer behaviour and preferences on account of pandemic leading to the current economic downturn and the rise of unemployment globally. As uncertainty continues, the bigger challenges such as addressing the apprehensions, insecurities, and anxieties of employees, consumers, and other stakeholders quickly, influencing the consumer behaviour to generate fresh demands, building an agile organisation for real-time response to the market and supply chain challenges, re-engineering the business and people processes as per the changing demands, adapting to the virtual world with the digital transformation of businesses, revisiting the purpose, values and organisation design, and resetting the culture of the organisation for the new normal, etc. are going to be the daunting tasks at hand which will keep business leaders and  HR fraternity occupied in the year 2021 and beyond. HR fraternity is expected to be a  catalyst in the change and transformation journey of their organisations and lead from the front.  

‘Change management’ has been included in the top three essential business skills for  Managers along with ‘leadership’ and ‘design thinking’ in the essential skill map for businesses by Coursera in its recently published Essential Skills Playbook. 

2. Digital Transformation:

It’s time for HR to go for digital transformation. Most of the corporate’s digital transformation strategies were focused until now ‘outwardly’ towards customers, employer branding, and highlighting products and services. 

However, the COVID era has turned the table and now the focus has shifted ‘inwardly’ towards own employees to elevate the employee experience at various touchpoints from pre-hiring to retiring by creating ‘Aha!’ moments for long term engagement and retention.  

The digitization of all key HR processes is making the function more transparent,  measurable, real-time analytics-driven, efficient, and accountable. However, the biggest impact of it is on the L&D process where the focus has shifted from ‘inputs’ to business ‘outcomes’. In a disruptive world in which we are living, rapid learning,  assimilation, and adaptation are the key essence of the L&D process to make organizations agile and responsive to the fast pace changes in the marketplace. L&D  initiatives will impact business performance and shape business outcomes through cutting edge learning solutions aimed at rapid learning in real-time.  

A recent People Matters & Skillsoft research study shows that 88 % of the HR and  L&D leaders listed ‘digital learning