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The crater-sized disruption in the workforce that happened in 2020 will continue to change the landscape of 2021. The movement towards automation in HR tech over the last decade has helped the HR community pivot this year to support their workforce from afar amid the new remote work reality. The tech that keeps employers and their workforce connected will be vital as we forge on into a new year. Let's look at how these recruitment trends will affect your day-to-day and your hiring overall.

Thinking Beyond The Brand To Make Connections

The phenomenon of disparity during the pandemic, where entire industries are being swamped while other entire industries are stopped in their tracks, offers a challenge and opportunity for HR: how to care for your furloughed employees. Talent acquisition is very much a competition for top potential hires, but perhaps one of the most unusual modes we may see in 2021 is a greater connection in the HR community. One digital platform that provides employer-to-employer collaboration, called People + Work Connect, was designed to connect companies with furloughed employees to companies in desperate need of workers.

Lisa Buckingham, executive vice president and chief people, place, and brand officer at Lincoln Financial Group, who helped launch the platform, describes it in an interview with Human Resource Executive: “We developed this initiative in direct response to unemployment caused by COVID-19, but I believe this is just the start of a new chapter of deeper connections between companies, driven by HR, to better all of our collective workforces.”

One main mantra has arisen this year: How you treat people during a pandemic will be remembered. Right now furloughed employees exist en masse, and in any typical year furloughs at your organization come with bad press and disgruntled employees. But the potential for the HR community to collaborate to care for furloughed employees by providing an avenue for temporary work not only answers the call to empathy, but also has the potential to solve a problem in the world writ large—for example, think hospitality workers becoming contact tracers. Building organizational brand will be important in the coming year, as talent abounds in a shifting jobs landscape, but building HR community and establishing important employer-to-employer relationships will be another important brick in the rebuild.

Flexibility And The New Remote Reality

Jobs roles advertised as remote or remote with the ability to commute will become more prevalent in 2021—not only because there will be ongoing safety precautions implemented by companies, but also because a new model of work has taken a foothold. While flex time where employees can set their own hours to come into the office was once an inexpensive perk, now it has become a necessity in a world of capacity limits and staggered office shifts. This year has tested out the elasticity of the system in a large-scale work-from-home experiment across many industries.

Innovative technology continues to grow to serve this new work reality, but a barrier has already been broken. Stacia Garr offers her take on the rise of remote work in Human Resource Executive: “Remote work is definitely here to stay for the long-term and on a large scale. No one would have designed this remote working experiment as it has turned out, but given how, overall, successful it has been, we won’t go back.” In 2020, industries have responded to a crisis. In 2021, we will begin to digest this monumental shift in culture and implement tech and benchmarks for HR that meet the new remote work reality.

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Virtual Candidate Engagement & Assessment

Beyond remote work is the new recruitment trend of remote engagement and assessment. Digital recruitment technology has been on the rise for years, with programmatic job ad platforms to source candidates in the virtual digital space of social media and online search sites. But further down the hiring funnel, virtual candidate engagement has the opportunity to level up.

Digital assessment tools, or skills tests, have been one way for HR to narrow candidate pools when a first round of in-person interviews prove impractical. now, get ready for “gamification.” Virtual assessment tools don’t have to feel like a candidate is taking the SATs all over again—they can be engaging and game-like, to make the virtual assessment of candidates also an opportunity for candidate engagement where your team collects valuable information on candidates’ personality and skills assessments.

We will also see the continued use of videoconferencing tools with AI enhancements to better facilitate remote interviews and provide unbiased data to aid assessments of candidates. This tech has been around, but with the shift to virtual interviews we may see more widespread implementation as it proves its worth.

The HR landscape is vast, and events like HR Tech 2020 have shown us just a glimpse of what’s to come in 2021. It's hopeful to see an industry come together to learn from each other, and we can't wait to see what happens in the new year.

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