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10 Goals For The HR Department In 2021

It might be time to re-think a few workplace habits as we tear another page off the calendar. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
Published 27 Aug 2020
3 min read
10 Goals For The HR Department In 2021

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So if 2020 was a busy, challenging or downright insane year, with COVID-19 changing the way we work, it might be time to re-think a few workplace habits as we tear another page off the calendar and hurtle headfirst into 2021. Here are ten ideas to get you started.

10 Goals for the HR department in 2021

1. Slash the paperwork

No one wants paperwork in 2021. So it’s high time you digitised and automated every process you can. And if it’s not integral to your strategy or customers, outsource it. (Hint: we can help with that).

2. Push back on things that make employees miserable

So the bean counters have decided on a company-wide travel ban, and IT’s firewall means staff can’t use their own devices? You need to be an advocate for your staff at a decision-making level – so they don’t waste time circumnavigating outdated policies just to do their job.

3. Treat everyone like a customer

In 2021 your marketing department is (probably) firmly focused on building their customer-first/design-thinking/user-experience capabilities. It’s a good idea to apply that customer experience thinking to your staff as well. What’s the onboarding process like? How user-friendly is your intranet or operating systems? How long does it really take to complete a procurement process?

Spend a bit of time observing how people get things done, and you may get some powerful insights into how you could make them more productive, effective and engaged – and how they’d like their performance recognised.

4. Forget about HR as compliance

If you want a seat at the boardroom table, you need to be proactive and stop spending every day putting out fires. Yes, compliance is important. But if you take care of point #1 you should have more time to be a strategic advisor. You have access to a lot of valuable business data and insights that can help every leader in your organisation make smarter decisions.

5. Make HR more redundant

The real role of HR is to train line managers to be great at managing people – not to manage people yourself. If you do that well, you’ll be able to spend less time solving line manager problems, and more time on the strategic HR initiatives (see #4, again).

6. Give people autonomy

If your office closely resembles a Dilbert cartoon, it’s time to re-think the centralised layers of bureaucracy that have built up over time. Take your cues from Netflix, Virgin and LinkedIn.

Create a network of trained, skilled and responsible people at every level of your business, set out the principals of behaviour, then let them get on with it (and get out of their way). That’s how those companies can offer staff as much leave as they want – but still get the performance they expect.

7. Be prepared for change

Disruption was a buzzword highly used in the past few years, but I think it’s still yet to reach the HR department. So get ready to disrupt your own team.

Spend some time understanding the real experience of employees. Challenge traditional HR thinking. Ask ‘why not’ instead of why. Remove the fear of failure when it comes to trying new ideas. Disruption can be an opportunity or a threat – it just depends on your point of view.

8. Make time for the things that actually matter

We’re all too busy to get it all done. So if you want to be both effective and efficient at work, you need to look at the potential quick wins first. High impact, low(ish) effort. Then you might get the resources to go after the bigger strategic initiatives. (And if it’s low impact, high effort, why are you even thinking about it?)

9. Drop the dreaded performance review

In 2015 Deloitte and Accenture both announced they wouldn’t bother with ratings in performance reviews any more. Apparently 70 per cent of companies are now re-thinking performance management – and what’s really interesting here is that managers are talking to their teams much more often about performance when they stop measuring it on a bell curve.

10. Increase the frequency of feedback

The real problem with performance reviews? No matter how systematic you make them they’re still subjective. They probably tell you more about the reviewer than the reviewee (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing). You still need a way to measure performance and provide feedback. But in 2021 it needs to happen a lot more often than once a year. So, what’s your new HR resolution for 2021?

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