We have made it through the first quarter of 2021, one filled with several exciting HR shifts in entirely new directions, and a few seemingly slight directional manoeuvres and adjustments that are nonetheless set to affect how the HR industry moves forward as we enter Q2 and the rest of the year. Globally, Frazer Jones have successfully appointed 892 HR leaders and specialists this quarter and there has never been a more exciting time due to the growing variety of roles and disciplines in the function.
We are always working to bring you the most relevant HR thought leadership, “View from the Top” interviews with HR leaders, as well as hearing from up and coming HR professionals in our “60 Seconds with a Rising Star” series whilst reflecting on what has happened in each quarter and looking ahead with key HR trends.
Let us take a look at both the HR challenges and opportunities the first quarter of 2021 has brought.
While many businesses saw profits slashed, salaries for their HR employees have remained consistently high, mirroring previous years and showcasing the need for a strategic people function. Demand for change and transformation consultants spiked as firms decided to change their structure and values statements, and utilisation of reward practitioners remained unequivocally high. Organisations are recognising the need for commercial HR representation to succinctly deliver complex and challenging messages to all levels of stakeholders’ seniority, resulting in increased total compensation for HR Business Partners.
With a range of complex challenges ahead, HR functions need to take a proactive approach to cope with ever-changing scenarios as we come to terms with our “new normal”. HR practitioners have seen a seismic shift in how their firms operate during 2020 and that continued in 2021. Whilst this has brought huge demand to HR teams with ever changing legal and policy implications, it has also transformed the acceptance and understanding of agile working, achieving in a few months what would have taken at least another decade. CPO’s and CHRO’s are now recalibrating and reviewing how their functions should be structured as the expectations and needs of their employees have changed. Whilst the economic outlook is still opaque, there is clear evidence that investment is needed in areas such as well-being, equality, diversity and inclusion. Retention and employee value proposition will be critical to firms who want to stay ahead when the inevitable bounce back comes.
Firms are adopting a considered approach centred around diversity practices and employer branding to attract and engage a younger workforce who value businesses with strong moral standing and a healthy work-life balance. For most of our clients, the journey to a more diverse workforce is well underway. The emphasis is now to create a culture that is genuinely inclusive and allows employees to bring their full selves to work, being able to thrive in a more productive and collaborative environment.
A key trend which looks set to continue is investment into and adoption of HR technology, as firms start to move towards a more remote workforce. It seems unlikely that many organisations will return to five days in the office, and there is an opportunity for businesses to really embrace a new way of working. This new way of working will be key to retaining top talent long term as employees start to expect more flexible working in the future. Upgrading technology comes at a substantial price, however, which may not be feasible for many organisations in the current climate. HRIS candidates have continued to be in high demand to allow some of these solutions to occur more quickly.
Salaries in specialist and talent-shy areas are continuing to increase, however with hiring strategies now focusing on remote and home working, virtual hiring has allowed access to talent in geographical areas that previously would not have been considered. Although we have witnessed nervousness from both candidates and clients during virtual recruitment processes, we have seen positives come to the surface, including more flexibility for interview availability and reduced time to hire.
The recruitment function has seen a shift from more operational activities such as sourcing, hiring and onboarding, to more strategic initiatives including employer branding, employee value proposition and diversity & inclusion agenda. The areas of talent management and compensation & benefits make a significant contribution to developing attractive conditions for the workforce in a new and more digitised world of work. A professional and high-quality change support, as well as the smooth administrative implementation, serve as enablers, which explains the focus on the corresponding roles.
The increasing complexity of the profession has become more apparent, with HR universally having a seat at the table. Culture, engagement and ethics are now critical agendas at board level, magnifying the need for HR to drive change and embed these values as essential to sustainable success.
For those embarking on a career in HR, there has never been a more exciting time due to the growing variety of roles and disciplines in the function. The candidate market is particularly active at this time of year. The months of January to June are therefore a particularly good time to attract new talent. We are also observing a significant increase in the demand for project and contract HR positions. If you need support in finding suitable HR professionals and HR “superstars” for your team, please contact us, we will be happy to advise you.
We look forward to an exciting 2021 with you!