It would be fair to say that 2020 has been a challenging year, but we are not out of the woods yet. 2021 is likely to be almost as much of a challenge. Covid, Brexit, a potential recession, and the decimation of some industries will mean 2021 has some pretty unique HR challenges.
Being forewarned is being forearmed, as they say, so we have compiled a list of the challenges we can look forward to meeting next year.
It feels like a million years ago that the UK was gripped by Brexit madness. Parliamentary shenanigans, uncertainty, and a deeply divided country dominated 2019 as we left the European Union in January 2020.
Whether you are remain or leave, Brexit is bound to affect you in 2021. The HR challenge for 2021 will be around rights to work, recruitment and visa sponsorships. There is also the potential impact on trade, which may result in redundancies.
If you work in an industry that relies heavily (or even lightly) on workers from the EU, trades with EU countries, or involves travel to EU countries, you should already be prepared or preparing for big changes. This is an enormous topic full of regulations. At the time of writing, no deal has been finalised, so the impact of Brexit is unknown. Keeping abreast of the current guidance is essential. The CIPD has some useful resources here and the government has a questionnaire here that informs you what you need to do to prepare your business for Brexit.
Of course, the big HR challenge for 2021 is still likely to be Covid 19. Self-isolation, social distancing, lockdown, and an increased need for parental leave will mean workforces can fluctuate from day to day.
Some sectors, such as education and health care, are worse hit than others by staff frequently needing to quarantine. A lack of staff in schools, care homes, and hospitals not only damage productivity but also put the other staff and their professional dependants at risk. The responsibilities, processes and safeguards must be properly managed to ensure vital work can continue safely. In industries where social distancing is very difficult, such as warehousing and production, this is going to be a huge challenge.
Managing the fluctuating levels of staff is a big HR challenge that should be met with fair and thorough internal policies. It may be worth talking with your employees to find out whether they have any suggestions about how to minimise the impact of rules around self-isolation on productivity and the wellbeing of the team
If you would like help understanding your legal obligations and being objective about what is fair, get in touch. Our outsourced HR services can help create policies that protect your business and your staff.
Lockdowns, local lockdowns, fire breakers, tiers, travel corridors… it is dizzying the speed at which new restrictions and regulations are released.
They are often introduced at short notice and affect each sector differently, depending on the risk factor, location, and ability to adapt.
The travel industry is having to be especially agile as new countries are added and removed to the travel corridor weekly. The hospitality sector, the arts, beauty and personal care, fitness, and most indoor leisure facilities are being put through the wringer as restrictions around their uses tighten and relax frequently.
These rapid and dramatic changes are an HR challenge we can get used to for at least 2021. This is where a disaster recovery plan can come in handy. Whilst not exclusively the role of the HR professional, a thorough disaster recovery plan includes an HR element; dealing with staff absences, health, policies, and safety should be included in the plan.
Think of it as a super risk assessment. Get your senior management team and other relevant parties together and plan what would happen if your sector was suddenly told to close or adapt (again).
Vaccinations And Testing
Boris Johnson has often spoken about rapid testing done at home to ensure people are safe to go to work.
The vaccination has been rolled out this week to a specific set of people.
Managing testing and vaccinating is potentially an HR headache in the making, What if staff refuse to test or be vaccinated? Do you have any recourse if it means preventing infections and loss of earnings? What if staff test positive and need to work from home?
We don’t yet know how it will all work but one thing is for sure-it will be a challenge we need to overcome in 2021.
When lockdown number one hit, most businesses hunkered down and cancelled those long-standing arrangements until things were more settled.
Well, it looks like things aren’t going to be settled for a while, even with a vaccine. That means getting back to business as usual.
Training, staff appraisals and salary reviews are examples of the things that were put on the back burner and now need dealing with in a Covid safe way.
The HR challenge here is making up lost time and ground, especially with staff development whilst ensuring people get access to quality conversations and training in a Covid friendly way. Safeguarding, data protection, and health and safety refreshers may need to be caught up on.
Keeping a workforce together, productive, and happy when many people are working from home is a challenge. How do you make sure your team are connected, feel included, are productive, and are effectively line managed?
Regular catch-ups, proper policies, and targeted, measured support should all form part of it. Automating the onboarding and leaving process will give you more time for this and make it easier to keep track of who is who when you can’t meet in person.
Working out what works for your staff and sector is one of the big challenges of 2021.
Diversity and Equality
This isn’t necessarily a challenge, but more something on the radar for 2021. Diversity, equality and inclusivity are enshrined in law in the workplace and beyond in Britain, but there is always room for improvement, as minorities and women can attest to.
Many workplaces have policies for diversity and inclusion but fail to be fully inclusive in some of the more innocuous activities, opportunities for progression, recruitment processes, and awareness of colleagues.
The Black Lives Matter protests over the summer of 2020 and the negative impact that COVID has had on gender equality in the workplace have highlighted some potentially deep divides in the country. An honest evaluation of workplace practices will be a big HR challenge for 2021.
Be Ready For The HR Challenges Of 2021
We don’t have any crystal balls here at Metis HR. As 2020 has demonstrated, sometimes events can take you by surprise and upend your plans, no matter how well laid they are.
Working in HR means being prepared for every workforce-related eventuality with processes that are legal, fair, comprehensive, and practical. We can help you get prepared for 2021 and all the challenges you may face. Or we can help you respond quickly to a developing situation.
As we have demonstrated this year, here at Metis HR we can help you adapt and overcome challenges as they unfold.
Get in touch with us for a consultation. The first one is complimentary. Give us a call on 01706 565 332 or email email@example.com.