Human Resources

How is HR evolving in 2021?

11 May 2021

3 min

Why it’s time for HR to step into the role of ‘Organization Transformer’

The events of 2020 thrust HR into an even more strategic position within the organization. While the Head of People has long had a seat at the top table, the unprecedented events of 2020 brought the people function back to the center of businesses worldwide. By and large, for example, CEOs and CHROs formed the core of the committee to tackle Covid-19 in most organizations.

Beyond ensuring the short-term physical safety of employees, key strategic conversations have continued around topics like employee engagement, employee wellness, and productivity – all areas owned by the HR department.

Now, in 2021 and beyond, could HR seize the opportunity to drive further organizational transformation, given its even more central role on the strategy side of businesses?

How is HR’s role evolving in 2021?

We all know the events of 2020 brought with them new expectations of the HR department. Here are four important elements making up the role of the HR department in 2021:



With many HR leaders stepping up to the plate during 2020 and showing the value they can bring, now is the time to get more strategic and own your place at the top table. It’s time to truly gain a deep understanding of the business strategy and align your people initiatives to it to drive sustained value. Focus on learning business acumen with the HR team and ensure everyone is focused on outcomes over tactics or programs.


Health and Wellbeing Champions

As mentioned, the initial focus on physical safety of employees has opened up a new and deeper conversation on mental health and wellbeing at work.

The effects of the pandemic on mental health are already well documented, and providing care for your employees in this area is both good for people and business – employees with a greater sense of holistic wellbeing can contribute more fully and bring their best to their work.


Learning Evangelists

As 2021 progresses, we continue to face challenges that simply weren’t around last year. Added to that, as technology continues to advance, new jobs will be created and new skills required. Soft skills are also becoming more valuable, as the ‘human’ side of work is coming back into focus.


IT and Privacy Drivers

Remote work has brought with it the need for new technology and HR processes, especially when it comes to data. With more companies collecting potentially sensitive information from employees and facilitating ongoing communication with their people working from the safety of their homes, HR professionals must increasingly play the role of IT and security experts. This is a trend that’s here to stay – the technical demands of HR work will only grow as greater workforce intelligence becomes available from AI, people analytics, and other technology that tracks performance and employee engagement.


Podcast episode with Erik van Vulpen, CEO at AIHR

To discover an expert perspective on HR’s changing role within the organization, we recently interviewed the founder of the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR). Erik van Vulpen.Erik is a globally recognized HR thought leader and teacher on the future of HR. He regularly speaks at conferences about HR training and upskilling, and he’s uniquely positioned to give some great insight on HR’s newfound role as the organization transformer.