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Top priorities for HR leaders in 2021
Leadership Development

Top priorities for HR leaders in 2021

Jason Averbook
March 15, 2022

As we are stepping into 2021, the responsibilities handled by Human Resource (HR) professionals are changing. The year 2019 marked for several changes in the HR department and is evolving this year too. Digitalization cannot substitute everything about human capabilities. The intricacies of non-tangible growth and rewards need human involvement.

Given the need of the hour, great HR leaders are upskilling themselves to possess the requisite skills, showing their readiness to take the organization to the next level.

‘HR leaders’ priorities for 2021 reflect the critical needs that organizations need to tackle in order to successfully operate in today’s uncertain conditions,” said Leah Johnson, vice president of advisory in the Gartner HR practice.

However, Gartner’s research says that only 9 percent of chief human resource officers (CHROs) agreed that their organization is prepared for the future of work.

To prepare for the future, HR leaders (as per Gartner) must develop the following skillsets as their priority list and add to their portfolio.

Top priorities for HR leaders in 2021

#1. Upskilling

As companies shift toward automation and digitalization, it is necessary to update the skills and competencies for hr leaders. 46% of HR leaders lack the necessary skills to drive future performance, Gartner reports.

HR leaders must partner with business leaders, understand the business strategy, and align talent. They need to work with managers and demonstrate employees to grow by developing in-demand skills. HR leaders must connect and motivate employees to skill-building opportunities.

It is important to reach beyond the organization’s existing talent pool and strengthen the business. The HR leaders must align the talent so that business reflects the evolving customers’ demands. The top-down approach in the organizational design is subject to change. The leaders must involve employees while co-creating strategy by taking a market-driven, predictive approach to identify skill gaps and address them as well.

HR leaders must become connected learners to motivate employees to develop the in-demand skills by the organization and market as well. These skills would improve their career success.

#2. Technological competence

As CHROs are becoming an integral part of strategic decision-making, it is necessary to develop ‘skills funnel’. HR professionals must tweak the requirements of their organization beforehand. They need to actively update market knowledge, identify new software tools to ease the processes, understand trends and in-house capability, and implement impactful initiatives to grow the organization.

As a CHRO, one must understand the intersect of people, processes, and technology to make strategic decisions. They must acknowledge the existing skill gaps and address the same, plan for workforce expansion and essential training.

Many hr leaders cite problems in their leadership bench. 57% of CHROs and 63% of learning and development leaders say that their leadership bench is one of the top priorities in 2020. As leadership roles continue to change, they cannot fill the leadership pipeline with potential successors.

#3. Employee experience

Improving employee experience is a major concern for HR leaders and organizations. It is more than basic engagement activities. It is necessary to focus on the experience, help employees to find meaning in their work, and encourage to develop further. Following of ‘shaping approach’ improves employee satisfaction, increases the intent to stay, and reframe from negative experiences.

Analyzing and defining work with the help of analytics facilitates employees to become bias-free and subjective in working. It removes prejudices, biases, and motivate the team to move as a single entity.

Addressing gender parity, unequal gender pay, accounting inclusive workforce, cognitive diversity, and remote workforce by aiding them in their exclusive needs and demands might lead to heightened employee experience and instill a desire to stay in the organization as loyal employees.

The way ahead

To make real progress at the professional and organizational level, HR leaders must expertise digitalization, leverage talent processes, and deliver functional support as priorities in 2021. They must stay consistent with the evolving needs and expectations of employees and organizations

About the author

Jason Averbook is the CEO & Co-Founder at Leapgen, the digital transformation company that helps HR solution providers rethink how to better design and deliver workforce services for the NOW of Work. He is a global leading analyst, thought leader and consultant in the area of Human Resources, the future of work and the impact of technology on that future. He has more than 25 years of experience in the HR and technology industries and its immense potential in the future of work.

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October 25, 2021

A very inspiring list. Thanks for putting this together


October 25, 2021

This is such a great list of women leaders! More power to you all

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