What will 2021 bring from a people perspective – 8 trends you need to prepare for?

While these trends were already starting to become big issues, this year has certainly magnified them. 

Having a position or plan on where your business sits on some of the below 8 areas will be important in both attracting and retaining talent. 

1. Flexibility 

COVID has certainly highlighted businesses requirements to think quickly around working from home and flexible hours. 

Now however, this has also given people a taste for what this could be like? In terms of working from home, lapse in dress code and flexible hours. 

The traditional Monday to Friday has been thrown out and is being challenged with both different customer and team preferences. For example, some our clients have adjusted their work week to Monday start at 1.00pm, work a little later on other days or even including a late night or Saturday. 

You may also want to review your dress code ie Casual Friday if you don’t have in place already. 

To note – this is going to be interesting to see how our Industrial Relations / Award frameworks moving forward work around this as minimum hours, overtime and penalty rates will be things that need to be considered. 

2. 5 generations in one workplace 

With our next generation coming into the workplace and people no longer necessarily ‘retiring’ at 66, this means that we are seeing diverse working teams. 

The amazing thing about this is the diversity and experience this brings to the business. 

The challenging thing is different upbringings around things that are important to the specific generations which are very different. Including work ethic definitions, technology, principals and morals. 

Having effective mentor or induction programs to explain different generations is important in understanding how they operate and can effectively work together. 

3. Aging population and extended caring responsibilities 

It used to be mothers who were seen as being the only ones who would need caring responsibilities. 

Traditionally, if you were female and late 20’s-late 30’s, employers would be thinking about parental leave requirements. 

Nowadays, employers and parents seem to have this down packed and there is a lot more diversity in terms of types of couples, men taking time off to look after children and wider brackets. Also, if a child needs to be picked up from school or has a cold, generally this is a short term thing. 

The real challenge is lying with caring for our older and aging generation. Particularly, in terms of the type and length of time of potential caring requirements if they are recovering from surgery or need assistance going to appointments. 

Caring responsibilities need to be taken into account and flexibility considered where possible in terms of your company position on approving time off/working from home wider them ‘child care’ responsibilities.

4. Communication 

Never has communication ever been more important than we saw this year. 

Both in person and ‘virtually’. 

Establishing regular rhythms of communication and effective team ‘chat’ channels have proven extremely important to ensure everyone is kept updated. 

It has also been important in terms of checking in on how people are doing, their energy levels, their mental health and keeping team connected to the business and priorities. 

Regular, consistent communication rhythms will be critical in 2021 to keep everyone on the same page.

5. The side hustle 

The COVID environment definitely seemed to encourage the side hustle for both employers and team members.

However, for some team members, the side hustle has taken over their main ‘job’ and their focus has now flipped in terms of what is important to them and how much of a priority they are giving to their original income/ employer which is causing frustrations for employers and other team members. 

Encouraging open discussions around this is important in determining whether any potential conflicts exist. 

6. Threatening legal action 

COVID has demonstrated some great employers and great team members. 

Sadly, it has also shown the opposite for both employers and team members and we are now seeing legal action both ways being used quite readily and threatened quickly when either party doesn’t like the response.

Now, things are slowly returning to normal, we are seeing some of the confusing areas bite employers (like leave accruals) and poor performing team members use COVID gaps to threaten employers with action. (To note – this does not discredit either party legitimately doing things). 

7. Wellness and wellbeing 

More than just good WHS, having processes in place to check in on both the physical and emotional well being of your team is important. 

Thinking about your work environment, work loads, how you allocate work, work clarity of roles, work layouts (including quiet areas), sleep levels and good physical fitness are all becoming critical issues for employers to be on top of. 

Having a wellness plan or at least clear focus areas on how to improve wellness of your team will be well regarded. 

8. Caring about the community

Knowing the position your company has on who it cares for will be important in attracting talent moving forward. 

Rallying together and supporting community is not just important for team members but also customers. 

COVID, our bush fires, our floods and other crises, have shown us how important it is as a community to come together and help each other out. 

Linking your charity/community connections with your company ‘why’ is very powerful, especially when your team are crystal clear on what the company stands for / what they don’t stand for and how they would like to make a difference / what footprint on society they want to make.  


You might do lots of things for charities but are you sharing them with your team and do they understand why you do it? 


Is your business ready for these trends in 2021? If not, don’t worry, we are here to help where we can.