2020 was a year of challenges and changes due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses were forced to either close or switch to remote operations for the health and safety of their employees. Hence, Human Resources also had to change people management operations to address workplace changes.
While we are now seeing hope with a vaccine rollout, the effects of the pandemic are expected to last longer. Hence, as we welcome the new year, we must also prepare for a post-pandemic world. Businesses will be faced with the challenge of effectively adapting to the new normal.

It will now be up to the HR to create new strategies and policies to support the business and employees beyond COVID-19. To do this, HR professionals in the Philippines should watch out for the following trends in 2021:

hr philippines 2021 trends
1. A new world of work

One of the trends HR professionals in the Philippines should expect this 2021 is remote work arrangement will be long term. We can expect more employees to work from home even after the pandemic has subsided.

Forrester predicts that remote work will continue to increase in the coming year. In their survey of Asia Pacific companies, over 48% expect an increase of full-time remote employees in 2021.

In the Philippines, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) declared that the country could remain under quarantine in 2021. Although we can expect a more relaxed version of the community quarantine, it might not be fully lifted until 2022.

A survey by Robert Walters on remote work in the Philippines found that 8 out of 9 employees are satisfied with working from home. Also, 9 out of 10 employees prefer more remote work arrangements after regular working structures have returned.

Some businesses are also looking into a more flexible work arrangement by adopting a hybrid workplace. A hybrid workplace combines remote and in-office work. It gives employees the option to work where they feel more productive and with flexible work hours.

With quarantine restrictions and changes in workplace arrangements to consider, HR departments need to revisit their work-from-home policies. An effective work flexibility policy will help the HR ensure productivity while addressing changing employee needs.

2. Enhanced wellbeing mental health support

The COVID-19 pandemic had severe effects on our mental health. Fear and anxiety about the unknown can cause serious physical and mental health challenges.

A study by the Mental Health Foundation and LinkedIn on 2,000 employees working from home during lockdown in the UK found that 31% have trouble sleeping, while 30% have increased feelings of anxiety. The study also found that remote employees are spending an extra 28 hours of work every week.

The survey by Robert Walters also found remote employees felt frustrated because of social isolation (37%), general anxiety (36%), and longer work hours (32%).

While shifting to remote work helped businesses maintain productivity, it increased the stress in employees. Moreover, remote work has caused the rise of what experts call e-presenteeism.

E-presenteeism happens when employees working remotely feel pressured to be online and available as much as they can. Working long irregular hours at home does not increase productivity and can actually lead to burnout.

Burnout is caused by unmanaged chronic workplace stress. It negatively affects both our physical and mental health, which can lead to a significant decrease in productivity. 

A survey by Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) found three out of five employers in the Philippines plan to change their benefits program to support their employees. The survey also found that companies are planning to revise their healthcare strategy for 2021.

As remote work will increase next year, HR professionals must focus on improving support for employees. They must prioritize adopting mental health solutions to ease the anxiety and feelings of loneliness or disconnect. Improving the overall wellbeing of employees will also be critical in increasing loyalty and productivity in 2021.

3. Redesigned employee experience and company culture

HR professionals in the Philippines should also look out for trends in the employee journey this 2021. Changes in workplace arrangements will also redefine the employee experience and company culture.

In a LinkedIn study on remote work, it was found that job seekers in Asia-Pacific are more interested in applying for work from home positions. The study also found that the Philippines is one of the leading countries in the region in remote job postings.

With remote work, recruitment, onboarding, and training are all done virtually. This is will also be a challenge for HR professionals. Visibility is critical in screening and assessing the skills and suitability of candidates. Lack of visibility could also impact promotion and career development management.

A survey by the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) and PwC Philippines on 161 CEOs found changing workplace safety measures and requirements (61%) as the top priority for implementation after the pandemic. In addition, CEOs are also planning to improve remote work experience (54%) and make remote work a permanent option (54%). Further, the survey found that CEOs are considering upskilling their HR team (50%).

Changes in employee experience are causing the role of HR to shift towards reshaping workplace culture instead of nurturing it. They have to establish a culture of togetherness despite the distance, while working towards a people-first approach. The HR must also increase their efforts in boosting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce. Further, continuous listening will be critical in determining the needs and level of satisfaction of remote employees.

As their roles become more complex, upskilling HR professionals will help them efficiently address issues with remote work experience. It will also make them better prepared to support the organization in developing new goals and strategies for the new normal. 

4. More complex legislative and compliance regulations

HR professionals in the Philippines should also look out for trends in compliance requirements this 2021. Since remote work could last longer, we should expect changes in laws and regulations on labor and employment.

Remote work is not new in the Philippines. On December 20, 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Republic Act No. 11165 or the Telecommuting Act. The law seeks to protect the rights of employees working from home or alternative workplaces. It also ensures remote employees receive the same benefits as those working on-site.

On July 13, 2020, Senate Bill No. 1684 was filed by Senator Francis N. Tolentino and Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa. The said bill seeks to expand the RA 11165 and add incentives for telecommuting or remote employees. The incentive calls for employers to provide a non-taxable allowance of at least Php 1,000 every month. The allowance is for additional utility costs incurred by remote employees while working from home during lockdown.

Changes in compliance regulations could happen while the country is in extended quarantine. HR professionals should keep abreast of changing employment laws and realign their policies to meet new compliance requirements.

5. Increase in technology dependence

Because remote operations could become permanent, businesses will need to boost their automation efforts in 2021. In particular, they need to focus on automating HR functions.

Forrester also predicts that Asia Pacific companies will accelerate investments on cloud, security and risk, networks, and mobility. This includes solutions to improve employee experience. Hence, HR professionals will look at the IT department for the right tools for their needs.

The right technology can also help in improving the wellbeing of remote employees. The Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) survey found that 60% of employers in the Philippines used telemedicine and promoted online emotional health services to support their workforce.

According to the MAP and PwC Philippines CEO survey, 88% plan to allocate up to 20% of their revenues to invest in technology or digital transformation. Also, CEOs are planning to implement digital transformation strategies (55%) and accelerate automation in business processes (52%) after the pandemic. In addition, they will prioritize tools such as communication software (69%), automation software (37%), and software for human capital (35%).

Communication and collaboration tools will help monitor the productivity of remote employees and keep them connected. Meanwhile, HR software can help automate tedious administrative tasks to free up the HR team.

How can Hurey help?​

The trends show us that the role of HR professionals in the Philippines will continue to evolve as we navigate the new normal in 2021. Managers and employees will look at their HR for the right strategies to adapt and thrive.

Aside from upskilling the HR team, providing them the right tools will help them manage their changing work environment. HR technology will take the center stage as automation will become the norm in HR processes, including recruitment, onboarding, applicant tracking, and payroll.

Designed specifically for the Philippine market, with features adequately supporting remote working, Hurey is the most scalable HR and Payroll app in the Philippines. It can automate several HR functions to help HR teams focus on improving the remote work experience.

Hurey can also help boost digital transformation strategies to prepare organizations for future disruptions. Request a demo now and find out how Hurey can help your business in 2021 and beyond.


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