What are the trends and insights that are especially valuable for HR to be aware of? From academic papers to actionable tips on self-development, we turned to our own thought-leaders, our Sympaticos, to source insightful assets for HR professionals preparing to thrive in 2021.

Recent world events have overtaken many of us who are struggling to catch up, and companies are confronted with an uncertain ‘new normal’ that impacts trends and priorities. HR is no exception: the developments have changed the priorities and discussions about HR now that 2021 is around the corner.

Here is a curated list of insights recommended by our very own Sympaticos. It’s a mix of ideas, old and new, as well as trends to keep track of. Dive into the linked materials directly or simply get inspired to do some research of your own – keeping up with trends and being open to new ideas is now more important than ever. Enjoy!

HR as the trusted business advisor

When businesses are navigating uncertain times, HR should act as the trusted advisor that guides the organisation forward. Being on top of what happens both inside and outside of your organisation gives you the insights needed to deal with a changing business landscape.

Tips on resources
  • PODCAST │ Unlocking us (Brené Brown)
    “This is by far my favorite HR podcast. It has both heart and soul and addresses current topics that are relevant globally. In short, it is about the changing world around us.”
    Anna Aarnisalo, People & Culture Director
  • ARTICLE│ How to be an inclusive leader through a crisis (Harvard Business Review)
    “HBR has made their COVID-related articles available for everyone. I like how the article reminds us to prioritise issues of inclusion and diversity, especially in the new normal. This article offers managers specific tactics to promote diversity among employees and future-proof the organisation through inclusion.”
    Kati Tammisto, Head of CX
  • BLOG │ The role of HR in a world under lockdown (Sympa)
    “This is neither the first nor the last crisis that we will experience globally, and the pace of change is accelerating. Now is a crucial time to learn how we can create HR processes that will be able to withstand future change.”
    Michael Bjerrum, Director, Consulting & Development

HR trends of the 2020s

Even though recent events have shifted the focus of HR, many of the trends discussed in our most recent trend report, “HR Trends of 2020 and beyond” are still highly relevant.

Read the eGuide
HR trends of 2021

Digital ways of working

The increase of remote working requires suitable and well-functioning processes that ensure a digital work place that supports both your organisation and your employees. This requires adjustments in the HR processes, processes for internal communication and remote leadership.

Tips on resources
  • ARTICLE │ Strategies for building effective virtual teams (Business Horizons)
    “Many of us have undergone major changes when we started collaborating digitally and began working from home full-time. This research shows several strategies for managing remote teams. In the words of the authors (in reference to a Microsoft statistics report about remote working): virtual teams are here to stay. It really is a topic that is now more relevant than ever.”
    Linda Liljeström, Product Marketing Manager
  • ARTICLE │ How to combat Zoom fatigue (Harvard Business Review)
  • TOOLBOX │ Toolbox for working remotely (Hyper Island)
    “Actionable tips and tricks on how to manage frequent online meetings and working remotely have proved very valuable in the remote-first environment, and will continue to be valuable in the future as the way we work continues to evolve.”
    Nora Laakso, Head of Marketing

Looking within

Building personal resilience and developing self-leadership skills to cope with fast-paced change is crucial for HR leaders. Self-development is a life-long journey, but self-reflection and identifying areas that need attention in these times is a good place to start.

Tips on resources
  • BLOG │ HR self-care: The new norm in the age of Covid-19 (HR Morning)
    “It’s a good rule of thumb to first take care of yourself – so you are able to take care of others. This concrete list helps HR professionals reflect on how they can ensure their own workability, now and in the future.”
    Anna Aarnisalo, People & Culture Director
  • MOBILE APP │ Headspace
    “Mindfulness and meditation has a tremendous ability to calm you down in the most stressful periods, while also being beneficial in the long-term as a regular exercise. I highly recommend integrating these types of exercises into your daily life. My app of choice is Headspace – you cannot have missed it!”
    Bjørnar Johansen, HR System Consultant
  • BLOG │ 7 steg till självledarskap för ditt team (in Swedish)
    “The ability to lead yourself is critical. The challenge of navigating and motivating yourself in uncertain times is not an easy one to tackle. I recommend this blog piece (in Swedish) aimed at helping managers and leaders facilitate the self-leadership process within organisations.”
    Björn Lorentzon, Business Development Manager

HR tech will help you roll with the punches

The pressure HR has dealt with this year has been substantial. When a crisis hits, core HR processes and organisational resilience are truly tested. HR tech – without a doubt – is essential if you want to roll with the punches.

Tips on resources
  • VIDEOS │ HR Trends with Tom Haak (HR Trend Institute)
    “Lately, I have been listening to talks and audiobooks on HR trends as I cycle. The role HR tech plays in helping during these times is as a hot topic. Recent topical themes include the need for pulse engagement surveys for employees working from home, as well as improved recruitment processes that use video and online assessments to minimize physical contact. I highly recommend learning how HR Tech can help you ensure your HR operations stay up-to-date in this changing world.”
    – Thomas Nakai, HR System Consultant
  • BLOG │ The role HR master data plays in connecting your company (Sympa)
    “Informed HR decisions and recommendations can only be made if you have a complete picture of your employees. Current developments should hopefully inspire companies to think about HR master data as a necessity.”
    Jaakko Mattila, Business Development Manager
  • BLOG │  The value of HR is proven under exceptional circumstances (Sympa)
    “These times certainly present many challenges, but also a great opportunity to reflect on the core of your business and your current HR operations – including the use of HR tech.”
    Terhi Savela, Head of Sales

Building a business case for HR tech

Getting your organisation to invest in HR technology is not always straight-forward. We gathered our top tips on how to make your plan of investing in new HR technology a reality.

Read the eGuide
HR trends of 2021


When the future is this uncertain for so many, it is not possible to solely rely on the predictable plans and models we used to execute our previous strategies.

One way to cope is to shift focus to the present, to gain a real understanding of what’s happening now – and how current events are affecting your organisation and its people. The more HR knows about your organisation’s people, the more it can do to keep them happy, motivated, productive, and in work.

With the necessary processes and technology to back you up, these signals can be read in near real-time, data can help make better predictions of the future, and leaders can quickly make adjustments to minimise impact – and take advantage of new opportunities.

How can we help?

Check out our library of more HR insights or reach out to us and let us know how we can help with your HR challenges, current and future.