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After a year of unparalleled change and uncertainty in 2020, HR professionals are doing everything they can to meet the needs of their employees in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic brought on new regulations, updated procedures and even new work environments that affected every level of business. From tracking paid leave and increased sick time to creating new company policies and navigating remote workplaces, there’s a lot to unpack to prepare your HR team for a successful 2021.

We’ve pulled together our checklist of what’s important for your HR team this year:

  • Support your remote workforce
  • Manage flexible hours, PTO and policies
  • Engage your employees and encourage employee wellness
  • Educate your employees on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Automate your HR process
  • Stay informed with new legislation
Man in plaid shirt typing on computer in remote office

Support your remote workforce

We recently passed the 1-year anniversary of many employees and businesses turning to fully remote work because of the COVID pandemic. This trend is certainly not going away any time soon. In June, Gartner, Inc. surveyed 127 company leaders and found that 82% of them plan to permit remote working in some capacity, even as employees return to the workplace. Nearly half of those who would permit further remote work would allow those employees to do so full time. Another survey of 17,650 HR professionals, reported that 55% said they would elect to continue working remotely.

With this trend, it’s clear that HR departments need to have policies in place for remote work going forward and be prepared for continued virtual employee training. Other aspects to consider when working remotely:

  • Data security in remote workplaces: According to Forbes.com, the increased amount of remote work has led to more potential for security threats and “tempted cybercriminals to exploit the vulnerabilities of network and IT infrastructure.” To keep your sensitive employee information more secure, make sure you’re using an HR management system that is SOC 2 certified, uses two-factor authentication, encryption and intrusion detection.    
  • Virtual hiring/onboarding. Since many companies may not be returning to the workplace in full capacity, you want to have both hiring and onboarding processes that can take place online and in-person. Can your current HR management system send digital offer letters and hiring packets? If not, it may be time to consider an upgrade so you can be fully prepared for the rest of 2021.   

Manage flexible hours, PTO and policies

If we’ve learned anything from these unprecedented times, it’s that being flexible in the face of change can be a useful tool for your HR department. While it’s unclear how the rest of this year will look depending on the pandemic, you can make choices today to support your employees through this time.

A growing number of parents are struggling to work from home and manage both work and family responsibilities during the pandemic. A Pew Research Center survey found that 52% of employed parents find it “difficult to handle child care during the pandemic.” Many women have also left the workforce in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, one in four women are considering leaving the workplace or downshifting their careers due to the pandemic. 

You can support these employees (and help keep more women in your workforce) by implementing flexible works hours, like allowing employees to work earlier or later, outside of the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. If your company decides to use flex hours, a modern, digital HR system will be able to help you manage and track PTO for all your employees without any manual hassle. You’ll also want an HR solution that makes it quick and easy for your review and approve new policies as you create them. Make sure to discuss with your team how you can best support their productivity, but also help keep them sane, during this time. 

Two women with face masks and gloves touching elbows.

Encourage and engage your employees

As an HR professional, the time you spend connecting with each of your employees is invaluable and important to maintaining a positive work environment. It’s no surprise that many people have experienced pandemic fatigue, loneliness, anxiety and overwhelming amounts of stress in the past year.

Now is the time to check in on your employees and encourage them to practice self-care, set healthy work boundaries and seek additional mental health resources if needed. With so many employees working from home, the temptation to work overtime and risk of burnout is high. Here are a few ways to help your employees feel more understood and supported:

  • Create a virtual social group to help fight off loneliness
  • Schedule individual check-ins more often
  • Host educational webinars on managing stress and anxiety
  • Encourage your employees to give you feedback on their virtual experience
  • Keep your employee handbook updated with mental and physical health resources
  • Send your remote employees a gift

Educate your employees on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Along with making sure your employees feel supported and understood, you should also take the time to educate them on the importance of Diversity, Inclusion and Equality (DEI). While this isn’t a new concept to any HR department, the social justice movements and tragic events of 2020 brought renewed awareness to continued racism and inequality in both the workplace and everyday life.

There are many benefits to increasing your DEI in your workplace. Promoting diversity, equality and creating an inclusive environment has a positive impact on your employee engagement, your hiring process, finances, growth opportunities and so much more. For example, a Harvard Business Review survey found that 45% of companies who were more diverse are more likely to report a growth in their company’s market share over the previous year than those who are not diverse. Those companies that have a diverse workplace are also 67% more attractive to potential employees.

Here are some areas to address and improve DEI in your workplace:

  • Support anti-racism education and efforts
  • Examine your recruitment process
  • Work to eliminate hiring bias
  • Bring diversity to your leadership team
  • Employ companywide anti-discrimination training

Stay informed with new legislation

Even in a “normal” year, new and updated legislation can affect your compliancy within your HR department. You want to use an HR management service that keeps you updated on how new legislation — like an increase in minimum wage or the American Rescue Plan of 2021— will change your current policies.

Small businesses have felt the effects of the pandemic, perhaps even more strongly than larger businesses, and their HR departments are no exception. These updates to legislature are important when factoring in how you track your employee PTO, sick time and paid leave. For example, the American Rescue Plan of 2021 provides tax credits available to companies who voluntarily provide FFCRA paid leave to their employees have been extended to September 30, 2021. By using a HR management system that automatically updates to include new legislature, you’ll skip the hassle of manually entering in new information and risking error.

Automate your HR process

If this blog is any indication, HR professionals often finds themselves short on time but never on tasks. With many manual procedures and fielding employee questions, the risk of making mistakes and costing you valuable time continues to increase.

A great HR management solution will help minimize the risk of errors with an uncomplicated interface, easy update capabilities and simple data verification. By automating your HR department processes with a modern HRMS service, you’ll avoid common mistakes and rest assured that your employee information is up-to-date and accurate.

Are you ready to manage your employees more effectively in 2021? We’re here to help you automate your HR processes and give you more time to make meaningful connections with your employees. Deluxe HR Solutions delivered on the Deluxe People Platform offers a self-service resource library with tools and templates to take your HR team’s operations to the next level, including HR forms, HR and employee training videos, best practices guides and more.

Need help making the case for your business to invest in an HR solution? We’ve got you covered.