COVID-19 Resources

Five Things HR Directors Should Consider in 2021

Written by Dianne Wilson on March 4, 2021

Warren Averett HR directors image

The role of an HR director has most commonly been associated with focusing on the specific areas of employee benefits, compliance and compensation. But the roles and challenges that HR directors face have changed significantly throughout recent years. HR directors today are now also tasked with overseeing the wellbeing and success of a company’s most important resource—its people.

The truth is that today’s corporate sector is overhauling how work gets done, and HR directors are an integral part of that transformation.

In 2021, there are a few key areas that will serve to determine which businesses will be truly successful by this new standard. Here are a few things we believe HR directors should be considering now in order to help their companies be more successful in this new era.


1. The Recruitment Process is Becoming Increasingly Competitive and Virtual.

Across most industries, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation that was already occurring in the human resource space and made the recruitment landscape even more competitive.

Top talent will continue to look for remote work with a stronger unwillingness to relocate—knowing that certain jobs can be done virtually. This means companies face stiff competition with other organizations and the challenge of recruiting in a virtual environment.

Though some HR directors or hiring managers might fear that the use of technology may make the hiring and screening processes too impersonal, the reality is that it can effectively replace many of the repetitive and process-driven tasks. This transition toward digital recruitment offers many valuable benefits, like time savings, higher hiring quality, and improvements in the hiring process.

Digital recruitment solutions, including video interviewing, online reference checks and digital assessments, are not simply a short-term reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. They represent a long-term sustainable advantage for companies today.

Takeaway for HR directors: Evaluate your company’s recruitment process to identify where you can leverage technology to make your business more competitive for candidates and more efficient for your current employees. With increased competition, ensure that your company has skilled recruiters and hiring managers to be successful in locating top talent in a virtual world.


2. COVID-19 Leave and Vaccines Continue to Bring Difficult Decisions.

COVID-19 illness and exposure pose a risk to the daily operation of nearly all companies. As a result, many companies are still facing difficult decisions, like whether or not to require employees to be vaccinated.

Critical guidelines have already been introduced in this area. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers have a legal basis for requiring employees to get vaccinated. Specifically, employers can mandate that their employees “not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.”

Employers must be aware that there are exceptions. Employees with disabilities or those with religious beliefs that prevent vaccination are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII, respectively.

Employers will also continue to face employee leave issues as a result of COVID-19-related illnesses well into 2021. New leave requirements will most likely be passed and extend to all businesses, regardless of size or business type.

Takeaway for HR directors: While many employees may currently still not qualify for receiving a vaccine, it’s important to begin working now to consider how your business will respond to the difficult decisions that will come concerning vaccines. Form a contingency plan to account for employees on leave.


3. Compensation Models and Systems are Changing.

Compensation for key positions will continue to trend upward and have a huge impact on both attracting new employees and on retaining current employees, as well as keeping compensation within guidelines.

The potential increase in minimum wage has tremendous implications for employers as they budget for salaries and compensation over the upcoming years.  For smaller companies, this increase could have a negative impact if you are paying employees more than your product is worth.

Another area for reflection is the alignment of compensation systems. Pay systems have traditionally been based on geographic locations. With the transformation to a greater scale of remote work, assessing pay systems that reflect more relevant factors deserves consideration. Pay systems based on performance, skills and importance in post-crisis recovery may better equip today’s organizations to meet future challenges.

Takeaway for HR directors: Benchmark positions to identify relevant marketplace compensation trends. Then, assess your company’s compensation models and systems to determine if your organization is accurately competitive and rewarding for your employees.


4. Companies Must be Intentional about Diversity and Inclusion.

While the benefits of diversity, including performance benefits, improved creativity and higher company revenues, are not new discoveries, their importance in corporate strategy has increased following the recent outpouring of concern for racial inequity.

Bringing together a collection of diverse experiences and thoughts can boost creativity and innovation. As a result, it’s crucial for companies to utilize equitable, diverse and inclusive teams, remote or otherwise.

Takeaway for HR directors: As companies demonstrate their intention to support diversity and inclusion in their recruitment and employee culture, it’s important to focus on identifying unconscious bias within the organization. Are you being intentional with your outreach? Are you recruiting from various sources including minority colleges and communities?


5. Employee Wellness Means Much More than Physical Health.

A safe and healthy workplace has taken on a whole new meaning following the COVID-19 pandemic. Successful companies have realized that the traditional focus on illness prevention and injury must be replaced with a more holistic view of employee wellness—including mental health.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has taken its toll on employees. Longer hours in front of a screen, a more sedentary lifestyle, and various mental challenges that characterized 2020 have made employee physical and mental health a top priority for employees and employers alike.

Many companies have had more restrictive policies toward time off during the pandemic, but their sustainable operations depend on prioritizing employee wellbeing.

Takeaway for HR directors: Ensure that your company is truly supporting mental healthcare within your health care plans and employee assistance programs.  Prioritizing work-life balance with employees’ overall wellbeing and remote work activities should be top of the list for a healthy workforce.


Is Your Company’s HR Ready for 2021?

In the human resources space, many exciting trends lay ahead for 2021, including a better way to work, a safer and healthier workplace, and increased diversity and inclusion.

Warren Averett offers HR consulting services for businesses looking to set themselves up for success in areas like employee compensation, staffing and recruiting, employee relations and more. Ask one of our HR advisors to reach out to you to start the conversation about how your company can succeed in 2021.

COVID-19 Resources

Back to Resources