HR Trends – moving from the “new normal” to “the next normal”.

Like me initially, I bet you’re thinking, “what’s the difference”? Read on and I’ll tell you more.

I came across an article recently that was released earlier this year by Jeanne Meister, an editorial contributor for Forbes. She compiles a trend piece annually that focuses on the top HR trends for the year ahead. This year’s article was titled – “HR trends for the next normal of work – 2021”.

The articles title and the reference to “the next normal” caught my eye. Last year, as the pandemic hit and so much changed, I caught myself often using the phrase “the new normal” when discussing changes in our work environment and client behaviour. In fact, after a while I became so aware I was using the term so frequently, I would apologize to my teams jokingly for saying it yet again.

When I saw this somewhat new terminology, I was not only grateful that I had a new term to use this year in staff meetings, but I did think – “what’s the difference?” – new, next – tomato, tomatoe. But reading on, it began to make more sense.

I think in everyone’s minds we felt that what was happening in 2020 was this semi-temporary situation. I’m not sure we could always wrap our heads around what was going on during the time, and what this meant for the business of the future.

Now, more than a year on – expecting some degree of normalcy in 2021 – which didn’t happen – we have this concept called “the next normal” to work through. The authors description of what this new term means, and some extra reading I did on the topic, it started making complete sense. Simply put, we are now moving towards a post-viral era – which has had a significant impact on the world around us and in a way forced us to accept our lives may be changed forever. From a business perspective – how we work, employee wellbeing and how our customers engage with us, in my opinion (and many others), will change indefinitely. It’s no longer this new challenge or “new (temporary) normal” – it’s simply a future reality. “

HR Trends for 2021

Now, onto the HR trends the writer identified for 2021. Looking through them, while I agreed with many of them and could relate – it did make me think about the South African landscape and how these trends would make sense to businesses locally. While some of the trends, I believe on the surface are completely accurate, I do think however, how, and why we are experiencing that trend differs to other global business communities.

Here are some of the trends identified by the writer, based on research and opinion amongst HR professionals:

  1. Make Employee Wellbeing a Top Business Mandate
  2. Use the pandemic to accelerate your workplace transformation
  3. Re-engineer and Transform Corporate Learning
  4. Prepare for the hybrid office of the future
  5. Be Holistic in Creating a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Workforce
  6. Anticipate new HR jobs of the future

To make the information more digestible, I want to take the time to unpack each trend and understand it in the South African context. So, over the next few weeks, I will be putting together short blog posts that focus on each trend in more detail, and what it means for us locally. I also want to take the opportunity to identify some trends not identified on a global level that are specific to the South African market.

I look forward to sharing more about this with you in the coming weeks.