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The pandemic resulted in economic uncertainty and drew attention to some emerging workplace changes. As life returns to some semblance of normality, employers will need to reassess policies and practices in several areas to be prepared.

Top trends identified by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) include:

  • New HR responsibilities.
  • A greater focus on employee well-being.
  • Continuing remote work or emerging hybrid workplaces.
  • Support for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
  • Expectations that leaders and businesses will rise to a higher moral standard.

Additional responsibilities

As business changed to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, human resources’ responsibilities also changed. HR professionals are being asked to address issues concerning child care, mental health and workplace safety as a result of the pandemic and remote work.

As one example, workplace safety has taken on new meaning with a host of requirements to protect your workforce and customers from the coronavirus.

Employee well-being

Our family dynamics have changed. When I left corporate HR, my department was developing a bereavement policy that would include extended families beyond traditional immediate family members. Today’s HR policies must recognize a wider array of employee concerns, including elder care, child care, pet care, pet insurance and paid time off.

Keep a pulse on your employees.  Give them a survey to find out what they want. Consider updating your policies to attract and retain employees.

Work from home

Many employers – and employees, too – want to return to some semblance of normality. But only some employees want to work at the office, while others prefer to continue working from home.

When I was in the corporate world a decade ago, one focus was planning for remote work shifts. It’s time for employers to catch up and allow employees to continue working from home. Fears early in the pandemic that remote work wasn’t possible because people wouldn’t be able to manage their teams or productivity would suffer were proven wrong in most industries.

One option you may want to consider is staggered shifts to minimize contact in the office. A staggered workforce also helps local infrastructure by reducing commuter travel and traffic on the roads.

With a hybrid office, employers will have to identify approaches to remain connected with employees who are working from home. Set aside a time every day or week to work on projects together. Software, such as the business communication platform Slack, can help the staff be interactive.

Think about setting boundaries. If a work meeting is interrupted by an employee’s child or pet, for example, you may have to ask workers to be conscious of what is going on around them during meetings. They may have to be told they can’t attend meetings from home. Be professional and polite, but continue to manage the workplace both in and out of the office.

Employers considering a hybrid workplace may want to look at studies from other companies, both in the U.S. and abroad, to see whether it would be a good fit. Be open-minded. If you want it to work, it can.

To be successful at continuing remote work, you will need the right software, procedures and structure in place to support it.

DEI focus continues

Concerns about racial inequity took center stage last year. Many companies issued statements assuring the public they would increase the diversity of their workforce and address discrimination. Some created new diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) positions. Keep a focus on educating yourself and your workforce and supporting diversity in your hiring practices. In the past, ignoring this only perpetuated bad behavior.

If company leaders make racist or inappropriate jokes, beware – it’s likely their words will become public through social media.

DEI is continuing to become a more important business focus. While large companies may have people with the expertise to drive inclusive programs and projects, smaller companies can begin by reviewing their salary structures and make adjustments to address past inequities.

Businesses will have to stay on track with minimum wage increases and take appropriate steps to achieve diverse workforces. I’m working with my clients to ensure that all employees who have the expertise and right skills be given opportunities for advancement.

Walk the talk

Employers found last year that they had to use a moral compass to steer their business. They had to follow through on their commitments to greater social justice because more people are watching. Potential employees are looking at how your company treats your workforce and customers. Businesses and leaders will continue to be held to a higher standard.

Employers need to be mindful that our workplace today is not what is used to be and that it needs to evolve. Be on top of the game and manage your workforce in 2021. Visit my website at https://www.melodybeachconsulting.com/ for more information on trends in HR.

What should employers know about job interviews?

The job interview is the key process for bringing the right talent into your company. Making sure it is done correctly takes planning and preparation.

It is imperative there be a process in place to ensure compliance and eliminate any risk of discrimination. Employers must be consistent, concise and fair. They need to be clear about what they can and cannot ask applicants. [read more]

Does your employee handbook reflect new laws and policies?

Updating company policies and reviewing employee handbooks should be an annual event for employers. The start of the new year is a good time for these housekeeping tasks because each new year brings new laws and changes to existing laws.

Three things Massachusetts employers need to pay attention to this year are the new Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) law, which provides paid leave for family and medical issues for eligible employees who work in Massachusetts; changes to the state minimum wage and premium pay; and ongoing workplace changes resulting from COVID-19. [read more]

Connections Count

Find out how “Connections Count” by tuning into my radio show at 1 p.m. Mondays on Unity Radio 97.9 FM.  The show also can be found on Unity Radio’s website at https://www.wuty979fm.org/monday.

My guests for upcoming shows are:

  • Kathy Chapman of Pawsitively Pink, April 19.
  • Paul R. Gelinas, CEO of Vital HR Advisors/Payroll, April 26.
  • Deb Kizilcan of Deb K Hypnosis, May 3.
  • Julie McDonald of Juniper Outreach Foundation, May 10.
  • Steve Messino, Chief Acquistion and Retention Officer, Citara Systems, May 17.

If you’d like to be a guest on my show, email me at  connectionscount1@gmail.com.

50+ Job Seekers Group workshops and bilingual programs

The 50+ Latino Job Seekers Group and MassHire Bilingual Workshops, which are presented in both English and Spanish, are held the third Wednesday of the month, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Advance registration is required.

Join us for a three-part bilingual workshop series:

  • Skills Assessment and New Career Pathways, Wednesday, April 21.
  • Turn Your Resume into a Marketing Tool, Wednesday, May 19.
  • Network Your Way to a New Career, Wednesday, June 16.

Check out our workshop and networking sessions.

  • The Interactive Workshop Series:
  • First and third Mondays, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Second and fourth Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Second and fourth Fridays, 1 to 3 p.m.

Greater Lowell Workshops & Networking Group:

  • First and third Wednesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

G2G Networking Sessions:

  • First and third Tuesdays, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Speed Coaching:

Second and fourth Mondays, 10 a.m. to noon.

Guest Speaker Series sessions, which require advance registration, are held the second and fourth Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon:

  • Guest Speaker Jennifer Wasmer: Intentional Listening, Thursday, April 22.
  • Guest Speaker Darlene Corbett: Transfer Your Mindset to Get Unstuck, Thursday, May 13.
  • Panel event: Creating Financial Wellness During Stressful Times, Thursday, May 27.

The virtual doors open 15 minutes before the program starts. Pre-registration for first-time participants and advance registration is at https://50plusjobseekers.org/outreach/registration/

You will receive an email about the 50+ Job Seekers workshops if you’re already registered with the program.

Reach out to me

To contact me, download my digital business card by texting HRPRO to 21000 or email me at melody@melodybeachconsulting.com.



Melody L. Beach Consulting Group
Proud Member of
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
Webster Dudley Business Alliance (WDBA)
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
PARWCC The Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches Woman in Business (WIB)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
BNI Referral Champions Worcester Chapter
Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
50+ Job Seekers
Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of Central Massachusetts
Women's Information Network (WIN)
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

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