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7 HR Trends to Watch out for in 2021

As the working world has been completely transformed for most people, here’s 7 key themes and HR trends that will emerge or continue throughout 2021.


1. Creating a culture of, “Better Together”

Due to the pandemic and on-going need of having to work from home, HR and business leaders are required to get creative and find new ways to connect teams remotely aside from the usual 1-2-1’s and formal team meetings. Here at Virgin Incentives, our Head of People created a “virtual hub” via Google Hangouts, this has allowed our teams to easily collaborate and connect with others daily. The space was designed to help those who miss the office culture and seeing people in person every day. This not only lifted spirits of team members but also boosted their general productivity, this has allowed for better collaboration and cross departmental conversations (a great initiative to help break silo’s)

2. Reward and recognition is key

It's more important than ever to make sure your employees feel appreciated and valued. To encourage this, Virgin Incentives uses PeopleHR to enable colleagues to give recognition badges to other employees. These badges have ranged from thanking people for helping on particular work projects to even thanking people for simply being a ray of sunshine in a difficult time. All the peer-to-peer recognition is then highlighted by our CEO which places emphasis on how important Reward & Recognition is for our culture and people.

3. Increasing personal connection

One clear trend we’ll see in 2021 is HR and business leaders putting their people at the centre of its focus. Leaders are making much more of an effort to relate to their employees on a personal level, understand how the pandemic is affecting them and doing what they can to support each individual person. To give an example, our Virgin Incentives Senior Leadership team ran virtual “tea breaks” over the Christmas period where employees could connect and have an informal discussion, asking any personal or business related question. This type of initiative helps business leaders establish personal relationships with employees and encourages a culture of transparency and confidence.

4. The continued evolution of flexible and remote working

As a result of the pandemic, there’s been a global overnight shift to remote and flexible working. Whilst some companies were already adapting to remote working pre-pandemic, not many were ready to give the green light in such a short time frame. Working from home has become a given and is something that most companies will continue to do this year, and post-pandemic. Whether that be offering more flexible working hours or remote working, it’ll be a major trend during 2021 and beyond.

5. Mental health in the workplace

HR is having to stop and check in with employees on a regular basis as the ongoing pandemic presents feelings of isolation, sadness, and concern for the future. To combat this, Virgin Incentives has provided free membership to Headspace. A team mindset training app, Headspace provides science-based mindfulness, movement and sleep support. In addition, over the Christmas period, Virgin Incentives ran a festive virtual fundraiser to run the distance between London and Lapland. The team could run, walk or cycle. This encouraged our employees to keep fit, keep moving, which boosted mental wellbeing.

6. Increased demand on HR departments

With the government often announcing lockdown and tier changes effective immediately, we’ve all seen a change with HR speed and flexibility. HR personnel and departments have become busier than ever and under pressure to quickly find ways to provide various needs for all their employees. It will be vital for HR leaders to continue finding ways to check in with their teams and create an open channel.

7. Gifting experiences over financial rewards

To drive engagement and boost team morale, business leaders have started to offer corporate rewards in the form of new experience gifts, these have offered a great alternative to financial rewards as they’ve given employees the chance to create memories and look forward to learning something new.

To keep your team engaged and motivated during this national lockdown, why not create a virtual event by choosing an interactive team experience. From online cooking classes to arts and crafts sessions, there’s something to interest everyone.

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