The Future of Work

6 Critical Hiring Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

by Preston Lee
6 Critical Hiring Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

Hiring predictions for 2021 are perhaps the most exciting in decades, thanks to a sharp increase in virtual recruitment, remote workers, and unique new benefits.

Just like nearly everything else in this world, COVID-19 has thrown traditional hiring and employment for a loop, with an unprecedented change in how people get jobs, where they work, and who they work with.

That means 2021 is perhaps the most critical time to make hiring predictions for the future.

Despite never knowing exactly what will happen in the future, there are strong signals and convincing data we can use to predict hiring trends in 2021 and beyond.

In fact, we believe the future of hiring will be fairer for candidates and it will deliver better results for employers. (See more here.)

In this roundup of 2021 hiring predictions, we’ll share—in no particular order—what we believe is most likely to happen over the course of the year (and beyond).

Prediction #1: Remote Work Will Continue to Grow Long Term

The most obvious and perhaps biggest change we’ve seen in traditional work during the pandemic is the increase in remote workers. Not only are people working more from home until things "return to normal," but many companies are changing their remote work policies to include remote work as an option (or an obligation) indefinitely.

According to the Pew Research Center, before the pandemic, only 22% of workers ever worked remotely. That number skyrocketed and held steady at a whopping 71% by December 2020.

What’s more, 54% of workers report they’d prefer to keep working from home after it’s technically safe to return to the office.

With those kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see why 62% of organizations predict a further increase in remote work talent acquisition in 2021 and beyond.

Prediction #2: Companies Will Continue to Increase Benefits and Perks

Beginning in 2021, expect to see companies offering even more exciting benefits and perks to their employees.

That’s because, as remote work continues to thrive, a company’s potential hiring pool expands to include candidates from around the globe.

And while more candidates can mean added competition for the job seeker, it also means companies will need to put their best foot forward to attract top talent.

Here’s what many companies are already doing:

  • One survey showed an increase in company-sponsored telehealth employee benefits of over 53%.
  • Another poll found parents spend an additional 27 hours each week on household chores since the pandemic began. Forward-thinking companies will offer at-home benefits (such as child care credits) for remote workers.
  • 36% of employers who took this survey said they’re ramping up employee access to mental healthcare after a pandemic-induced surge in anxiety, depression, and mental illness.

Prediction #3: Virtual Recruitment Will Continue to Accelerate

During the pandemic and mandatory social distancing that comes with it, managers, recruiters, and human resource managers have traded their traditional in-office interviews for virtual recruitment using Zoom or similar technology to accelerate their talent acquisition.

While you can definitely expect to have (or give) another in-person interview at some point in your life, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) predicts "virtual and automated interviews will instead replace many in-person touchpoints, helping to accelerate timelines" even after the pandemic is over.

Given the many changes, we’ll likely adopt once the pandemic is officially over (think food delivery and touchless store drive-up), it’s easy to see how virtual recruitment, which has quickly become the most common recruiting method, has a bright future.

Prediction #4: Flexibility Will Grow as a Must-Have for Job Seekers

Before the pandemic, remote work (or working from home) didn’t even make the list of top benefits employees looked for in a job.

Compare that with a staggering 50% of workers in a post-COVID world who put flexible hours and remote working opportunities high on their list of desired benefits, and it’s easy to see why companies who refuse to adopt a more modern remote work policy will fall behind.

In the coming years, more companies will innovate to keep up with employee expectations. These innovations may include more flexible work-from-home policies, shared on-site desks, zero-meeting days, and flexibility with phased maternity and retirement plans.

Businesses that choose to offer more location-independent jobs will reap numerous benefits, including a more broad hiring pool, access to top talent acquisition, and low on-site overhead. 

If you opt for more flexible work policies, you’re not alone. One study revealed 74% of companies intend to migrate at least a portion of their employees to permanent remote work.

Prediction #5: Companies Will Continue to Hire More Contractors

We believe the best talent in the world is looking for long-term careers, not short-term or part-time contracts (which is why we only offer 40+ hour/week long-term, high-paying positions).

However, that doesn’t detract from the fact that many more people are freelancing and companies are hiring more contract workers than ever before.

With a growing number of independent contractor sites (including newcomers from huge mega brands), it’s easy to see why the freelance economy isn’t going anywhere. 

But hiring freelancers or contractors in 2021 doesn't mean picking from a low-quality talent pool for temporary and unreliable gigs as much as it may have in the past. More than ever before, mid-level professionals and even former C-suite occupants have decided to become independent contractors for hire. And today, many of these positions mean permanent and reliable income.

Prediction #6: Employees Will Insist on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

The year 2020 won't be remembered just for the global pandemic. Countries around the world saw an increase in civil and social unrest—with millions of people protesting and fighting for what they believe to be fair and right.

These life-defining beliefs naturally spill over into job hunting, hiring, and employment in general, which is why a smart hiring manager, HR professional, or CEO has to realize the essential role that diversity, equity, and inclusion plays in their business, no matter the industry.

Some reports claim as much as 74% of employees seek companies that value diversity in the workplace, while other reports say that as many as 62% of people would turn down a job offer from a company that doesn't have a diverse workforce.

In addition, companies that make the effort to diversify their workforce—offering equitable jobs and opportunities to people of all backgrounds—tend to also have stronger bottom lines.

Making the Most of Big Changes

As you review the big changes that have already begun in global hiring trends, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

Instead, take a moment to make a plan to adjust your hiring (or job hunting) plan to better align with the shift we’ve seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we do, companies will be in a better position to find (and reward) the best talent in the world, and employees will be able to find their dream positions, get paid what they’re worth (no matter where they live), and do work they care about.