People-Centered Initiatives, Business Agility Take Center Stage in 2021 Workforce Trends

ROSELAND, N.J., Nov. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Significant shifts to the workplace in 2020 are making way for a newly transformed world of work in 2021. The changing landscape this year has employers and workers looking to digital solutions to help them push through the challenges presented by a global pandemic, economic recession and social injustice. As businesses navigate forward, ADP identifies the key trends reshaping the 2021 workforce

As we move into a new year, it is clear businesses are having to accelerate their transformation to adapt to new realities,” said Don Weinstein, corporate vice president of global product and technology at ADP. “Not only do we see an increased need for rapid, real-time data to reveal gaps and empower nimble and impactful decision-making; we’re also seeing a resounding call for employers to focus on the well-being of their workers and create a workplace where everyone can work confidently and thrive. These trends will shape a new, stronger foundation for how work gets done in the future.”Trends Shaping the 2021 Workforce

Focus on Resilience and Safety

Employers will prioritize the needs of their workers and take steps to ensure a safe return to the workplace by putting protocols in place to limit potential exposure. In tandem, employees will be looking  for support to help them adapt and grow amid changing working conditions. 

– Key Findings

  • Workers themselves cited significant stressors. In its study, “A Post-Pandemic Workforce: Tracking Perspectives Amid COVID-19,” ADP Research Institute found that in the first few weeks of the crisis, as workers struggled with childcare constraints, fear of the virus, technical issues and trouble completing their tasks, over 40% of workers reported increasing levels of personal stress.
  • However, in the face of these challenges, employees are becoming more resilient. According to ADP Research Institute, research conducted in recent months has begun to unravel the picture of resilience in the workplace. The Institute surveyed over 26,000 employees across the globe from 25 countries to understand Engagement, Workplace Resilience and the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace. In its “Global Workplace Study, 2020,” the more workplace disruption workers experienced, the more resilient they feel, and are up to 13.2x more likely to be highly resilient.

Drive for Diversity

Employees will increasingly demand greater action from employers in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the workforce and continue to pay close attention to culture and social responsibility. In response, businesses will turn to their HCM partners to help them identify opportunities and establish a plan for progress and ongoing transparency.

– Key Findings:

  • With greater data transparency comes accountability. DiversityInc has seen an uptick in the number of businesses seeking partners to close the gaps in their workforce. There has been a noted increase in requests for DEI consulting, content support and training support.

Fuel for Flexibility

A drastic and rapid move to formalize remote work suggests potential permanence as the modern workforce navigates forward and increasingly looks for dynamic solutions to support the new way work gets done.

– Key Findings

  • A recent ADP Research Institute study found that 44% of employers now have official flexible working policies in place, up from 24% pre-COVID-19. In fact, the study revealed most workers (65%) are upbeat about the flexibility of opportunities they will have in the future.

Spotlight on Compliance

As the regulatory environment becomes more complex and new legislative changes are introduced, businesses will look for ways to streamline compliance-related tasks to alleviate the burden on HR and payroll departments while leveraging aid.

– Key Findings:

Agility in Action

Many businesses are changing their models to adapt as they operate amid a fluctuating economic environment and a business landscape still punctuated by the uncertainty of the pandemic. To drive true transformation, businesses will focus in on their people and access to technology.  

– Key Findings

  • Despite these challenges, the ADP Research Institute study found confidence has declined less than one might expect, with 84% of workers today still feeling optimistic about the next five years in the workplace (down from 86% pre-pandemic), and 75% who feel buoyant about the year ahead.
  • Workers themselves are taking agility to the next level with new business formations up significantly year over year. According to Census Bureau data, business applications were up nearly 40 percent YTD as of late October, compared to just two percent in 2019.

For a deeper look at additional 2021 trends, please visit

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