Recruiting and hiring is the top concern for HR professionals going into next year, according to Nov. 19 survey results from XpertHR; nearly two-thirds of the 563 responding organizations rated this topic as “somewhat” or “very” challenging.

Other top concerns included workforce planning, health and safety at the workplace, and employee leave, which were all rated “somewhat” or “very” challenging by at least 54% of respondents.

The survey also found that almost half (48%) of respondents expect to increase the size of their workforce in 2021, while 30% do not expect any changes and 10% are think they will have to eliminate positions.

Before the pandemic, as post-recession economic growth continued, hiring and recruiting presented a different kind of challenge for employers. Unemployment was low and, as a result, workers and job seekers had increased labor market power. Successful employers stood out by improving office perks and benefits to attract top talent to drive further growth.

Today that power has shifted due to the pandemic and the job loss and uncertainty it has brought. While optimism is rising due to the success of vaccine trials, workforce planning has become more challenging than ever, as companies undertook layoffs or furloughs, or reassigned people depending on which lines of business were better suited for survival. Many job types are in decline, including the HR generalist, and HR professionals said in a recent survey that this has been the most stressful year of their working lives.

Other recent research on 2021 workforce strategy revealed insight into salary planning and other forms of compensation. An October study from Willis Towers Watson found that salary increases are expected to be lower next year, a conclusion also reached following a November survey from Gallagher.

Additionally, job postings for freelance and gig work appear to be on the rise. Many researchers expect contingent workforce strategy to play a role in hiring and recruiting planning for next year, particularly given the uncertainty still ahead.

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