Important trends and changes in HR and HR hiring
Beacon Hill Marketing Team | 03.31.21 - 9:32 AM

A competent, knowledgeable and effective human resources team is a critical part of nearly every business. Small, midsize and large companies all need to have dependable professionals on hand to manage the many needs tied to both keeping staff engaged and productive and adhering to regulatory requirements.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to several important changes in the world of HR in general and HR hiring specifically. Let's take a deeper dive into key trends that currently influence this vital aspect of business operations.

HR professionals addressing critical concerns

Dignity, compliance and safety

"HR staff have an exceptionally difficult job during an economic downturn."


The unique nature of the pandemic and its economic troubles meant HR professionals remained in back-end roles for significantly longer than in previous downturns. This change speaks to the value of modern HR departments and the role they play in overall business success. HR staff have an exceptionally difficult job during an economic downturn. They're the ones who give staff members notice about layoffs and furloughs, and they must do so in a sensitive way that allows each and every employee to exit with dignity. At the same time, HR staff must address a variety of needs related to compliance and regulatory management. Add in the need to support and spread awareness of safety protocols, and HR teams had an incredibly full plate during the most uncertain times of the pandemic and related drop in the economy.

Finding great candidates for a new way of working

Another trend that has its roots in the pandemic, but will likely extend far beyond its eventual end, is the hiring philosophy used by businesses. Traditionally, HR hiring managers focused on finding a candidate with a skill set that strongly aligned with the open position in their department. Now, it's clear that a more holistic approach is needed.

With remote work on the rise and likely to remain permanent for many industries in some form, qualities such as the ability to work independently and how a candidate motivates themselves are more important than in the past. Management depends on HR staff to be dependable predictors of future success for candidates. Adjusting to a broader view of the HR candidate, while still placing the important and necessary emphasis on skill set, will be a significant change moving forward.

The future of workplaces

While remote work has been received positively by business leaders in a broad sense, there are still plenty of specifics that each company must determine for their own work-from-home strategy. For some businesses and industries, full remote work going forward may not be the best option if in-person collaboration is vital for success. And other organizations may choose to return to a partially or wholly in-office model.

Except in relatively rare cases where a business returns to its exact method of operations pre-pandemic, HR staff will have to make a variety of adjustments to support employee engagement, output and well-being. Balancing the sometimes competing desires of staff and management — wanting to work from home frequently versus worries about maintaining productivity — and establishing a framework for qualifying for work-from-home privileges are two key concerns.

Increased focus on DEI

"DEI is now broadly recognized as a necessity for businesses."

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives are increasingly prevalent among businesses, and they're moving beyond the most basic forms and functions. Beacon Hill's own account executives have noted a significant increase in discussions with our clients about this topic, and a shift from viewing DEI as a beneficial program — something that's nice to have — to an imperative. Open and honest discussion about DEI and acknowledgements that past efforts didn't work out particularly well or go far enough are indications of its increasing embrace by the business community.

Breaking down barriers in candidate hiring pools and increasing diversity is a key concern, both for HR hiring and all of the recruiting in which a company engages. And HR staff will play a key role in initiatives like tracking a company's own level of diversity, through tools like anonymous, optional surveys of staff, and determining where the organization can improve.

Trends in HR hiring and career paths

A widespread slowdown in hiring hit businesses in the first months of 2020 after the pandemic was identified and lasted, in various forms, longer into the year. HR saw very little activity from March 2020 through the early summer, but it was followed by a steady increase in hiring through the rest of the year and into 2021. In January, Beacon Hill HR recruitment teams in Boston and New York worked to fill an explosion in available recruiting and candidate acquisition positions. This is a good sign for HR professionals and the economy as a whole, but also a reminder that as demand rises, it becomes more difficult to secure the best possible candidates.

HR career paths have continued to grow more clearly defined, with two major tracks presenting themselves:

  • HR operations: Functions like payroll, benefits management and others that increasingly rely on technology represent one path in HR. Professionals in these roles are often analytically-minded and detail-oriented.
  • HR advisory business partners: A focus on strategy and client- or employee-facing roles, like employee relations and talent acquisition, defines this path. These professionals tend to be consultative and strategically minded.

Moving forward with HR recruiting

The future of work has changed in ways few could have predicted before the beginning of the pandemic. And when the way employees carry out their daily duties changes, HR has to change along with it. Recruiting will need to continue to shift toward a holistic view of each candidate, taking not only their skill set but their ability to work in a remote environment into account. It becomes a balance of skills, working style and overall fit.

Beacon Hill is here to assist your company with all of its HR recruiting needs. Our expert teams interact with a broad range of candidates on a regular basis, providing valuable insight into different strategies and styles of work. When you partner with Beacon Hill, you can count on a recruiting process that takes all aspects of a potential employee into account.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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