Sneak peek: What themes are shaping TA & HR in 2021?

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Every industry has its defining moments, and for TA and HR that time has come. Veterans of the scene may harken back to the 90s when the arrival of ATS technology changed the way we recruit— however, 2021 is even more revolutionary. 

Today’s landscape is not only affected by the proliferation of new technology but also the globalisation of talent pools and we are all wondering how these upheavals will manifest in 2021.

No doubt, TA and HR have proven agile business partners in this disruptive time, but as an industry we are always looking to the future. We want to know what’s around the corner. A much harder feat with COVID-19 changing the game, stalling some trends and accelerating others. 

 But TA and HR pros are nothing if not a bullish bunch, so the unpredictability associated with COVID-19 won’t stop us from making predictions (anchored in the data of market behaviour, of course).

Who better to talk about trends than HR Tech suppliers? After all, they work with thousands of HR and TA people everyday - giving them a macro view of what’s happening, with the data and system analytics to support this view. So we reached out to some of our partners, including Globalization Partners, JobAdder and Bullhorn to get a real feel for what we’re already seeing take shape in 2021:


What are the key HR & TA themes shaping 2021? 

Charles Ferguson, General Manager for APAC at Globalization Partners
  1. Work-Life Balance: 

“Life first, work second:  Workers and organisations will prioritise health and well-being. “


  1. Flexible Work: 

“Employees will expect to work where they want when they want.”


  1. Democratisation of Talent

“Remote-work will democratise talent and opportunity. We are living in a consequential moment in history: we have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to completely redesign the way business is conducted, and we are beginning to see both employees and employers seize this opportunity. 


“We are already seeing this democratisation take hold with the elimination of geographic location requirements. When looking for new team members, “companies like ours are making it possible (and efficient) to build remote global teams. 


“As remote talent becomes the norm, employers will be able to source diverse talent, opening more doors to find workers with skills that are historically clustered in particular regions. As a result, this will provide a competitive advantage for businesses in this new era of work. 


“These shifts will not only impact businesses and employees; they will inevitably impact our society in ways we might not have previously imagined.”


  1. SEA Entrepreneurial Boom

“South-East Asian (SEA) will be a top option for and by entrepreneurial talent. This region has one of the largest concentrations of young technologically savvy entrepreneurial talent in the world. 


“In less than four years, the region has attracted $17.69 billion USD in funding, fostering start-up unicorns such as ride-hailing firms GoJek and Grab, and e-commerce company Lazada. In Singapore alone, more than 150 venture capital funds exist alongside more than 100 accelerator programs from the likes of  L’Oreal, Microsoft, and Oracle. In addition, HP recently announced that it will set up 20 tech hubs across Southeast Asia by the end of 2020 to give opportunities to youth in underserved communities.


“The Singapore Economic Development Board is supporting this ferocious pace of innovation with its newly announced ‘Tech.Pass’ which will be given to 500 technology experts in January of 2021 to allow them to move freely through Singapore’s tech ecosystem. I anticipate this seed program leading to a proliferation of new business and job creation cementing SEA a global talent magnet.”


Christina Knock, Head of Marketing at Jobadder
  1. Remote Work

“This year, HR Teams will be defined by their ability to support remote work. Leadership will be open to investing in enabling technology, but it will be up to HR to deploy these systems successfully.”

- Already hiring remotely? Check out this comprehensive Remote Hiring Guide to Background Screening.
  1. Diversity & Inclusion

“HR teams should be prepared to answer the question, what is your company doing to improve D&I? Again, technology can be an enable from AI that scans job ads for sexist or exclusionary language to CRMs to help engage diverse talent pipelines.”

Bob McHugh, Content Manager at Bullhorn
  1. Automation to Promote Connection

“Last year saw a huge increase in the number of employers and HR and recruitment professionals that automate and digitise the time-consuming components of TA to make more time for the human touch. This is going to ramp up even further in 2021 with the automation of manual tasks becoming the norm.”

Daniel Callaghan, CEO at Veremark
  1. Talent management and upskilling existing staff

“At the start of 2020, McKinsey already pointed to a growing trend for businesses to focus more on talent management and upskilling or reskilling their teams. This focus, they found, is vital to help companies emerge stronger from the Covid-19 crisis…”

  1. Recruitment process automation and continued digitisation of HR

“The people and hiring functions in businesses are often significantly under-resourced and over-stretched. Given the bountiful benefits of automation and continued digitisation, we keep seeing this theme come up as we settle into 2021.

Closing Thoughts

It’s true that 2020 was challenging, but TA and HR have risen to the occasion providing flexible hiring and work solutions for teams all around the world. Finally, we have a moment to reflect and plan for what comes next.... While you're at it, why not focus on upskilling in 2021 in these 6 crucial areas. Or listen to these Expert Recommended TA and HR Podcasts.

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