2020 shifted HR's priority from recruitment to wellbeing

In 2019, the top priority of HR leaders was cited as recruitment and retention, yet by the end of 2020 it shifted to employee health and wellbeing.

According to a new report by HR and payroll software provider Natural HR, the top priorities for HR departments in 2021 are mental health (73%), health & wellbeing (68%) and flexible working (60%).

The impact of COVID-19 was also cited as the biggest challenge for this year and beyond by 37% of respondents. 

Making workplaces COVID-secure, staggering start times and ensuring social distancing guidelines are adhered to were identified as some of the issues that will make HR’s job difficult in the months to come.

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The report also highlighted one in five HR leaders said they felt undervalued in 2019 and, worryingly, this figure has not changed in 2020.

Sarah Dowzell, co-founder and chief operating officer of Natural HR, said despite people being an organisation’s biggest asset, HR is still left out of business-critical, strategic decision-making.

Speaking to HR magazine she said: “When asked why respondents felt HR wasn’t valued in their business, two common themes emerged.

"The first is the continued perception that HR was a purely administrative function and the second, the fact they had no seat at board meetings, nor were they considered part of the senior team.”

Dowzell said in mid-level and larger enterprise businesses, a HR director is often required to achieve its best potential.  

“This will ensure that HR is involved in strategy, direction and final decisions, rather than just dealing with the fallout of decisions with no concept of the crucial role that HR plays in business’ success,” she said.

One in three HR leaders reportedly said their business was unprepared for COVID-19, but that they now have business continuity plans in place.

Dowzell said businesses with HR strategies aligned with wider business goals and objectives will better protect the future of its company.

“Shaping the HR agenda to fit with the overall company vision while managing and investing in your people will help to enhance the value delivered by the department,” she said.