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21 Trends for 2021 Explained

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Tracking and predicting the trends that are impacting the future of work and the future for workers is the most exciting part of my role, and it’s never done – being curious, committed to learning new things and transparent about what you don’t know is one of the most important skills I believe any of us can have today.

To share our insight with others, we’ve tapped into our real-world experience from working with clients in every industry sector across the U.S. and real-time data to predict the Top 21 Trends Shaping the Future of Work in 2021. Here are a few of my top take-aways:

Skills scarcity – In April, there were 11.4 million jobs available in the U.S., yet the unemployment rate went up and many businesses are struggling to attract the people they need. So, what’s the disconnect? Businesses opening ahead of education creating struggles with childcare, workers are still concerned for their health, and in some cases stimulus payments offer more than available jobs. On Yahoo Finance I recently discussed how to attract skilled talent and hold onto the workers that you have in today’s tight talent market. History tells us people look for new challenges after a crisis, we’re advising employers to focus on Pay Plus: pay is still important yet now is also the time to dial-up flexibility, well-being and career development. To be Plan A for candidates, employers need to widen their talent pool, focus on TransferABILITY and quickly getting to yes by increasing speed to hire.

Health and well-being – Employees are looking for employers to provide more than pay today. They're looking for employers to provide well-being. And so you have to be a place where, yes, employees can earn a living, but also where they can take care of their whole self. Companies need to be more empathetic, need to be more keenly aware of the mental and physical well-being of the people that work for them. The Caring Economy is real and it’s here to stay. In the past year we have seen the role of business broaden more than ever before. People are looking to companies to lead the way on health, well-being, equity & social justice. The bar has been raised higher than ever and companies are expected to speak out and often do more than the law or state guidelines require.

Employees as consumers – Employees are demanding greater transparency as well. They want to know what the company stands for and stands against. Equity is also important — making sure that the company is giving equal opportunity to others. This means the role of HR is more important than ever, CHROs are now increasingly leading the charge in health, well-being and resilience, workforce planning and engagement, reskilling and upskilling as well as broader employees-as-consumers initiatives.

Every company must be a digital company – People are going to need technology to contribute but also to consume. “Superstar teams” will blend AI and human capability and whoever can do that best will get maximum engagement for the employees and also maximum efficiency.

Rise of digital disruptors and the digitization of the customer experience – This ties into every company becoming a tech company. Whether you’re in retail, health care, education, or any field, users are expecting an increasingly digitized experience which requires lots of data as well as human insights.

The above trends just scratch the surface on what we’re seeing and what will continue to take hold in the coming months and years. For more insight, take a look at our full Top 21 Trends for 2021 report.

Although it is hard to predict what the post-Covid world of work may look like, it is safe to assume that the New Next will be different to the past. When we asked 8,000 workers about their top concerns for the New Next, “going back to the way things were” came in third, preceded only by health and keeping their job. History tells us that many people will see the crisis as a catalyst for change, they will be more likely to opt for a work modality that suits their needs, family priorities and lifestyle. Now is our opportunity to create a future that is more balanced, more well-being oriented and more skilled – for all.

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