Five workforce trends to watch in 2021

The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report reveals key trends and priorities for human resources and business executives in the new year. The report, The social enterprise in a world disrupted: Leading the shift from survive to thrive, explores the dramatic shifts in the workplace due to the coronavirus. Consider some of the ways your organization has experienced the recent trends that Deloitte lays out, and how you can help implement new approaches to either capitalize on or mitigate their effects.


Designing work for well-being: The end of work/life balance

Human resources executives have long recognized overall employee well-being as a paramount concern, but the coronavirus has shown that thoughtful work design must integrate employees’ physical, mental and financial well-being to establish and maintain a thriving organization. According to the Deloitte study: “Organizations that integrate well-being into the design of work at the individual, team and organizational levels will build a sustainable future where workers can feel and perform at their best.” The report suggests starting points to affect change, including:

Building well-being into social behaviors and business relationships.
Establishing management policies, processes and programs that consider well‑being.
Embracing new technologies and virtual workspaces that foster collaboration and well‑being.


Beyond reskilling: Unleashing workforce potential

The shift in how and where work got done in 2020 was dramatic, but leaders and employees rose to the challenge. Across the board, companies discovered new potential in their employees, a willingness to adapt and be flexible, and an inclination to conjure proactive, creative solutions to help move their companies forward. To that end, employers should consider:

Empowering employees to choose how and where work gets done.
Helping them reimagine their roles based on their skills and interests.
Taking a bottom-up approach to surveying employees’ needs and passions.


Superteams: Where work happens

Certainly the shift to virtual workspaces created a demand for effective technology, but equally important is the focus on people. To help create a stronger partnership of technology and human capabilities, companies should consider:

Reimagining new outcomes and aspirations versus trying to tweak existing processes.
Taking a broader view of technology’s potential to transform and elevate work.
Creating superteams that leverage the best thinking across disciplines, such as human resources, information technology, communications and more.


Governing workforce strategies: Setting new directions for work and the workforce

In 2020, leaders learned that work practices can be fluid, and employees are capable of reaching far beyond their job descriptions when their potential is tapped. This experience has shown that there is an opportunity to use real-time workforce insights to inform strategies for the future. Consider:

Taking an alternative approach to talent retention and tracking.
Applying more fluid job descriptions, tasks and processes to the work.
Cultivating a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and translating those values into action.


A memo to HR: Accelerating the shift to re-architecting work

Workforce issues became business issues during the pandemic, creating an opportunity for human resource executives to shift their role from managing workers to re-architecting work, driving better outcomes to help companies thrive. When HR leaders transform their focus from optimization to redesign to re-architecting work, employees are more empowered and organizations may realize better outcomes. To achieve this shift, HR departments can:

Shift the focus from outputs to outcomes as they conduct ongoing re-architecting of work, rather than tweaking it.
Identify and cultivate employees’ skills and technological capabilities beyond historical roles.
Proactively manage leadership who promote this cultural shift.

Key takeaways

Download the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

Review the Bank of America Human Capital Management Report for ideas to spark your company’s initiatives. The report details many programs and resources, as well as supporting data, across Bank of America’s primary focus areas including: being a diverse and inclusive workplace; attracting and retaining exceptional talent; providing holistic benefits supporting teammates’ physical, emotional and financial wellness; and recognizing and rewarding performance.

Deloitte is not an affiliate of Bank of America Corporation.