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The 7 Most Important HR Trends in 2021: This Is What the New Reality of Recruiting Looks Like

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What Are the Emerging Recruitment Trends in 2021?

The radical changes in the nature of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic have turned the traditional world of work upside down. To adapt to the challenging times, many companies forcibly ushered in the digitalizing of the working environment. As we observe in hindsight, the workers met the new working conditions either with enthusiasm or with great scepticism. But how did digitalization impact working life in 2021 – especially in the HR field? Which are the new recruiting channels that will become part of recruiting? We are still making assumptions on which innovation in recruiting will stay long after the pandemic is over. For instance, these HR trends have high chances to settle over the following years.

1. New Recruiting Channels

One thing is sure: posting job ads, looking for potential candidates on Xing, or at semi-formal events like business breakfasts – all of these will continue to exist. 

But TA managers and recruiters should ask themselves: Are we reaching all potential candidates via these channels? The target group of international candidates, in particular, will not accept to face long-distance travel for an interview. Therefore, remote recruiting needed to be improved anyway. The COVID-19 pandemic just speeded up the process.  

Companies that have not set up an HR social media team yet should do so by 2021 at the latest. The majority of TA managers and recruiters are looking for prospective employees on social networks. It is therefore essential for them to stay connected in order not to miss the talent. 

However, why not test a brand new recruiting channel? As a TA manager and recruiter, you should trust your own experience: you probably know many other talented and experienced colleagues in the HR field. So it’s not far-fetched that a software developer might feel the same way. 

Therefore, why don’t you take into account your employee referrals?  If you want to fill a vacancy, you should enable your current employees to provide you with a referral. In return, as feedback for their action, they should receive a reward. The great advantage of referrals is that employees refer potential colleagues they would love to work with over a long period. Additionally, your current employees often best know which applicant is the right fit for the team and the company, known as the so-called cultural fit.

2. Hybrid-Remote Work Models

The 2021 working routine is no longer conceivable without remote working. No company can afford to leave its employees without a home office connection. Nevertheless, the remote work or hybrid-remote models are still not firmly defined.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work was a working style that allowed professionals to carry out their business outside of a traditional office environment. Now, hybrid-remote work models refer to the possibility of alternating working remotely with being in the office, according to the Covid containment measures.  

Anyhow, one consideration should be taken into account. Few professionals are willing to work remotely in the long term since many appreciate building social relationships and relating with colleagues in the office or the cafeteria. 

According to this, TA managers should point out remote opportunities, but remote work should not become standard. However, when it comes to remote recruiting, it has to be improved according to the new working conditions. For instance, in these pandemic times, applicants would prefer an interview via video conference. Furthermore, TA managers and recruiters should also pay great attention to remote onboarding, ensuring that the new employees get to know their team, tools and company culture.

3. Employee Retention: Motivating Employees Remotely

Many TA managers wonder how to keep their employees motivated, and the teams united after a year of the home office. The risk of colleagues losing contact with each other, or employees and managers, is high despite the video conferences. After a year of hybrid-remote working, some employees report that the bond with their colleagues is fading. So, are employee retention strategies effective with remote workers? Do TA managers need to implement new ones? 

Therefore, employee motivation and retention are shaped by how convincingly managers build the team spirit and provide employees with the benefits. After all, a traditional perk such as the classic fruit baskets in the office means nothing to remote employees. Nevertheless, they can always be delivered to your employees’ homes. 

TA managers can also set a weekly video conference for employees to spend some after-work time together. These weekly catch-ups can also be used for introducing an employee referral program. In any case, TA managers are required to be creative, as far as it matches the company’s principles, of course.

4. Remote Leadership 

Remote leadership is the trending topic of 2021, especially at the management level, since many executives have hard times finding a good balance between trust and control through technological tools. For example, those who tried micromanagement noticed a drop in employee motivation. Here, international companies have a head start because their internal structure already resembles home office teams. 

On the other hand, the prospective remote employees expect a good work-life balance that results in working flexibly when working in the home office. Thus, is it worthy of availing time tracking and employee monitoring software? Managers and executives should carefully implement office management tools: experts state that overcontrolling erodes employees’ trust in their leaders. 

5. Gig Economy as an Alternative to Permanent Employment

Delegating small or larger work projects to freelancers via a platform and paying once for service is another trend shaping this year. Due to the  COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are cautious about hiring new employees and turn to outsourced professionals. 

The gig economy is a trend coming from the USA, where one-third of the workforce already offers their services via platforms such as Fiverr. However, it started to take hold also in Europe. 

Nevertheless, the gig economy does not rule out the opportunity for longer-term recruiting. Those who reliably complete the commissioned project will undoubtedly be considered for a permanent position over a longer period. On the other hand, establishing contact with gig workers enables TA managers to test the skills of prospective employees in advance. For example, professionals in the IT field are in particularly high demand. They can perform their task almost anywhere thanks to technological progress. 

6. Sustainable Work and Sustainability

Sustainable organizations aim to provide their employees with optimal working and living conditions and support them in committing to the work throughout extended working life. Furthermore, the term sustainable also recalls environmental sustainability, which younger Millennials and Gen Z, representing the future workforce, have at heart. 

Before applying for a job, they do research on the company and value its social and environmental impact. They also check the company culture since they want leaders that promote an equal, inclusive and diverse workplace. 

7. Digitalization of the HR Workflow

Using one specific software for payroll accounting does not mean that the HR workflow is automated. TA managers and recruiters should consider other software that can help in streamlining the working processes. Perhaps, more efficient and open-source software could be available on the market. 

The same applies to the employee referral program. Shifting from the analogue referral recruiting process to the automated one will reduce the workload in managing referrals and save recruiters precious time. Firstbird can help with that. Its digital employee referral platform integrates into any applicant tracking system and allows TA managers to manage all referrals in one place. Get to know Firstbird in a demo

The COVID-19 Pandemic Fostering Digitalization

2020 has challenged the HR sector more than any other year. In 2021, we gained full awareness that the next decades will require even more flexibility and creativity in recruiting. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought one great advantage: “forced digitalization” of the working environment left the door wide open to technological innovations. 


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