Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members


We have come to live in a new world order.  An overwrought mandate for transformation has been re-shaping life, industry, and commerce in a new reality. The old has made way for the new and every industry vertical has overcome key challenges to emerge stronger and more resilient. 2021 is where the resilience of industries shall truly be tested to assess whether these changes are now effective.

Based on the prevalent trends across industries, business leaders have re-calibrated their strategies for 2021. The implications of these changes are bound to have an impact on technological adoption, workforce capabilities, and business traction in a post-pandemic world. Based on insights, let’s take a closer look at the key trends that will affect people practices, the workforce, and the future of work.

Sources: Deloitte/KPMG/Gartner/ SelectHub

Rapid adoption of tech

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates

Try to change the old can be more difficult than building something anew. Where the outcome is free from shackles, problems, and challenges of the old. Today, many organisations have realised how important staying ahead of the curve is and the role that technology plays in this regard. It is therefore not surprising to learn that the adoption of HR technology has increased like never before:  Everything from payroll automation to reskilling programme management to AI in recruitment to chatbots for employee experience and mental wellbeing went virtual, paving the door for wider HR-tech tool implementation.

Cloud adoption is an important technical initiative for around 79 percent of the participating firms, according to a global CIO study. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cloud technologies are also high on the list of tech priorities. Further, according to a Bank of America estimate, RPA could result in the loss of 3 million jobs in India by 2022. (Robotic Process Automation). While low-skilled employment roles will be automated out, advanced in-demand talents would help create millions of new opportunities, perhaps eliminating redundancy.

Employee-first approach

In an increasingly remote work environment, the pandemic also underlined the importance of employee welfare and experience, making it one of the top business imperatives. Organizations are investing time and money to find the best ways to help their employees deal with changing work realities, such as offering more workplace flexibility to help employees balance their home and professional life.

According to Hartford’s Future of Benefits study for 2021, a majority of employees (59%) said their company has been more accepting of mental health challenges in the past year, and 58% of employees say that their company provides employees the schedule flexibility to get the mental health help they need.  The study also highlights that issues such as workplace burnout and virtual fatigue due to the pandemic are recognized by employers.

Emphasis on re-skilling

The harsh truth of technological adoption is that the bulk of the global workforce is not equipped with capabilities need for contemporary businesses. Moreover, there has been an increased focus on developing soft skills among knowledge workers:  Communication, team cooperation as well as individual contribution, dispute resolution, and working around ambiguities are all in high demand in today’s turbulent virtual environment.

According to the World Economic Forum, Automation will alter 50 percent of employment within a decade, but only 5 percent will be abolished. Digital skills will be required in 9 out of 10 professions. Ostensibly, to pursue these roles, workers will need to gain new skills or adjust to changes in their present responsibilities.

Future outlook

The fact that the nature of talent is changing isn’t a bad thing. Like previous industrial revolutions, the current one too shall pivot changes that will enable new roles and spark changes that eventually be a win-win for employers and employees alike.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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