How Will 2021 Be Different?

HR Leaders Across Disciplines Sound Off on the Changing Role of HR and Their Hopes for the Year Ahead

2021 Outlook: Doing More to Enable Employees, Candidates and Managers

At the end of December, Trendicators conducted a one-minute pulse survey of 189 executives in roles that included CXOs and HR leaders, recruiting executives, recognition experts and organizational development experts. Their responses provide a snapshot of the toughest challenges they experienced last year and their top priorities for 2021. Economists predict continuing challenges over the next six months, followed by an estimated 4% growth rate in GDP for the year. The top priorities cited by respondents, summarized below, indicate that the year ahead promises to be one of enablement and improvement, with plans to accelerate recovery, especially in the second half of the year. This report summarizes 2020 challenges and 2021 priorities as reported by each of the participating groups of executives.

Download Download

CXOs and HR Leaders

The challenges reported by CXOs and HR leaders coincide with what was reported throughout last year. For the year ahead, this group recognizes that improving employee recognition and optimizing the remote workforce will be critical to maintaining or improving performance levels. Getting better at solving business problems, taking a more agile approach to recruitment and retention and improving employee experiences are all important priorities for 2021.

Download Download

Recruiting Executives

Recruiting executives recognize the vital role talent acquisition will play in accelerating organizational bounce-back as the economy improves in the second half of the year. Improving candidate experiences and doing a better job of attracting talent tied for the top priority spot. We have another tie for the second spot; creating more engaging onboarding experiences and improving hiring manager effectiveness.

Download Download

Recognition Experts

As with all HR roles, recognition experts had their hands full in dealing with the pandemic’s harsh realities. In 2021, the overwhelming top priority will be to provide managers with more training to engage and recognize workers. This change is, in the opinion of industry experts, long overdue. Greater involvement from senior leadership and the evaluation of new technologies, also cited, underscore the belief that improving recognition effectiveness will be important across all industries in the year ahead.

Download Download

Organizational Development Experts

By a large measure, the toughest challenge organizational development experts faced last year was overcoming pandemic-related stress and anxiety, followed by the challenge of onboarding new employees remotely. Nearly 60% of those surveyed will focus this year on developing and improving coaching and mentoring programs. To prepare for growth in the second half of the year, this group will prioritize building critical skills and rethinking organizational design to respond in a more agile manner to opportunities as they arise.


Download Download