News Article


Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2021

The new year is likely to bring mixed feelings. Despite some positives: The arrival of multiple vaccines and furlough extended, there is still much uncertainty and speculation on what January and onwards will bring.

In 2020, change was fast-paced and erratic, coming from a sense of necessity rather than choice. Many of these changes have been a long time coming. The pandemic has brought several of these issues to the top of the priority list with positive future outcomes.

Gartner for HR has published the ‘Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2021’ in their latest report, and we’re giving you all the essential insights in our summary below.

  1. Building critical skills and competencies: A top priority for 68% of HR leaders.A considerable challenge, especially when events take over, training and professional development usually take a backseat. However, when change is thrust upon us, every business needs its people to skill up and adapt quickly to respond to its customers’ immediate needs and business survival.

    The main challenges in achieving this?
    • Leaders don’t know what skill gaps their employees have.
    • Integrating learning into employee workflows.
    • Creating sufficient solutions to meet the rapidly evolving skills shortage.

  2. Change Management & Organizational Design: A top priority for 46% of HR leaders.
    Companies struggle with the ability to respond to change quickly because of their rigid structures and workflows. There’s usually an issue with roles and expectations too, because they aren’t designed around flexibility or innovation; individuals aren’t given the autonomy required.

    The main challenges in achieving this?
    • Management isn’t adequately equipped to deal with change.
    • Employees are already exhausted from all the change in 2020.
    • Leaders don’t have the skills or experience to lead change.

  3. Current and Future Bench Strength: A top priority for 44% of HR leaders.
    The ability to fill and retain critical positions within your business is essential if you’re going to manage the business to succeed. Without the right people in the right roles, you’ll struggle to achieve your goals and growth.

    The main challenges in achieving this?
    • Leadership teams are not diverse enough.
    • Succession management processes do not yield the right leaders at the right time.
    • Developing effective mid-level leaders is a struggle.

  4. Future of Work: A top priority for 32% of HR leaders.
    It’s an uncertain world and will likely continue to be so for some time. Business forecasting, talent management, and goal planning are always an educated estimate, but it’s increasingly difficult to know which trends and changes are temporary and which are here to stay in the current climate.

    The main challenges in achieving this?
    • Companies don’t have a specific ‘future of work’ strategy.
    • Rapid market changes result in companies struggling to adapt talent strategies and processes.
    • With automation and AI displacing workers, businesses aren’t adequately prepared to address the changes required.

  5. Employee Experience: A top priority for 28% of HR leaders.
    The employee experience is everything: from culture and engagement to leadership and opportunity it underpins every organisation. However, with the overwhelming need for remote working, it’s become a significant challenge to monitor, measure and implement employee experience.

    The main challenges in achieving this?
    • Developing flexible strategies to address engagement and experience.
    • The ability to assess and measure the impact of employee experience investments.
    • Companies struggle to communicate the employee value proposition with the experience promise.

The year ahead, despite uncertainty, still requires planning and prioritising the needs of our businesses and our people. Once you’ve gained clarity on your HR priorities, it’s time to start creating strategies to implement them throughout your organisation no matter if you’re in the office or working remotely.

Our next blog will be discussing why these issues are the top priorities and how you can begin implementing them in your business throughout 2021.

However, if you need more immediate help and support, please give us a call directly on 01279 874676.