2020 - The Year In Review From The HR Standpoint

As we are saying goodbye to 2020 and hoping that the year has been the lesson that will never be repeated again, we took a moment to create a list of most important changes in the world of HR that arose with the ‘new normal’. While unwanted and forced upon us almost a year ago, the year has taught us how to conduct businesses from our homes, and more importantly how to constantly adjust to every new change. In this year the overarching change for any organization was ultimately in changing the mindset, becoming more agile and adaptable as never before.


If we think about startups and small companies, the changes in their mindset wasn’t as drastic as if we look at large organizations whose cultures and the ways in which they used to conduct business could be easily characterized with one word: conservative. Nevertheless, no matter how difficult it was to look and take part in such drastic changes, we are closing the year with a dose of hope, optimism and richer for some valuable lessons that prepared us for the future.

In the following paragraphs you can read about six most important changes that happened in the world of HR and how they were handled:

1. The World Went Digital

If anything, 2020 has been the year of digital. Whether we are talking about private or professional communication, every possible communication went digital. This had an impact on HR as well. HR departments from all over the world now had to figure out how to perform some of their most important tasks; recruiting and maintaining employees, via emails and video calls. 

Even the companies that used to claim that digitizing their HR departments and recruitment processes isn’t necessary, embraced a digital transformation. By doing so, they introduced the processes that are here to stay. Whether it’s recruiting new employees, onboarding new hires or maintaining regular communication with the existing employees, HR departments did all of that digitally. This increased the efficiency and effectiveness of such departments and opened the doors for more strategic approach to HR

More specifically, when it comes to recruitment, this year, recruiters had the chance to improve their recruitment marketing efforts with the advanced softwares and more personalized and targeted communication with the candidates. This was particularly valuable due to the fact that a lot of companies were dealing with the hiring uncertainty and oftentimes layoffs for which it was important to make sure they didn’t negatively affect companies' employer brand.

2020 - The year in review

2. People Analytics

In addition to the software advancements that happened in the field of marketing which enabled recruiters to conduct a more personalized communication with their candidates, this year was definitely a year of leveraging more data for the benefit of higher quality hiring. People Analytics is simply a data driven approach to doing HR and the term that has been around even before 2020. As the time goes by and the technology keeps developing, so do the mindsets among the recruiters and the management move more towards understanding the benefits of the data. 

Just like 2020 did, the upcoming 2021 will only keep pushing the current boundaries of what data analytics can do and play even more pivotal roles in any decision making processes. People Analytics is therefore becoming a more dominant paradigm in understanding HR - transforming the field and making sense of all useful data offered by the recruitment and other HR processes. 

3. The year of AI

Another big advancement that happened in 2020 from the technical standpoint is the definitely a more meaningful and advanced use of AI technology. This happened in various fields, but when talking about HR and recruitment, the technology started a significant transformation which will only continue happening in the future. Thanks to the AI, recruitment softwares started performing reliable screening and matching processes which leaves more space for recruiters to develop meaningful relationships with candidates. 

One of the most time-consuming tasks in any recruiters day to day work - the process of screening the CVs, may become part of the past with the further development of AI. As this has started to look more like a reality in 2020, instead of just a fantasy, we can only anticipate the future role of AI in recruitment and see which tasks will this powerful tool be able to perform. 

4. Building Remote Culture

Besides the digitalization, organizations had to learn how to adjust from one day to the next, how to nurture good relationships with their employees and keep the spirits high despite spending working days not only in different buildings but sometimes also in different countries. Building and maintaining cultures remotely wasn’t an easy task and HR departments had to get creative and highly engaging in order to stay in the loop of what was going on with their employees. The year that started with the financial and health related uncertainty oftentimes caused employees to be more distracted and less focused on their work.

Finding the right balance between being an adequate support to your employees while keeping them busy and trying to maintain the productivity levels as high as possible became a real challenge. Despite a regular evaluation and engagement with the candidates, an important element of building a remote culture became the recruitment. Now, more than ever, the work that the recruiters did in the process of hiring new employees and assessing their cultural fit mattered for the well being of the entire organization. 

Companies that were building a strong organizational culture prior to the pandemic had an easier time to adjust to the new conditions and nurturing their employees. Interestingly enough, based on Glassdoor research from the middle of this year, it is evident that the culture and values rating of the companies from the Fortune 500 spiked from April to August. 

5. Remote Hiring & Building Relationships With The Candidates 

Starting the worldwide lockdown, no one could assume that this period would last longer than a couple of weeks. In this very initial period it is understandable that companies pushed their recruitment processes and postponed them for what then seemed a few weeks later. However, it soon became evident that working from home practices would last longer than planned. This called for another adjustment. Remote hiring became the new normal. Something that used to be a foreign concept for the majority of companies, now became the new standard. Just imagine someone telling you a year ago that you won’t be meeting the person you hired for months after the hiring took place? 

This new way of hiring called for being very precise when trying to attract new candidates and being able to build as strong relationships with the candidates online as possible. Even if the hiring was paused for the majority of the year, the regular communicating and getting prepared for then the hiring starts again became essential recruiter’s success. 

6. The Year of Webinars & Online Education

One of the interesting phenomena that happened early this year when almost all in-person events got canceled was the huge boom of webinars and online education classes that people could attend. With everyone spending most of their time at home, people were able to participate in the variety of online events relevant to their field of expertise or even outside it. For instance, you were able to attend a masterclass in UX design despite being an IT professional. On the other hand, for organizations this meant that there was a way to stay in touch with customers or employees in some new ways. 

Specifically, for HR departments, this became the most effective and engaging way of interacting with employees and candidates. In order to remain relevant to the candidates and to protect their employer brand in these difficult times, recruiters became creative and hosted different events in which they demystified work within their companies, discussed the hiring trends and helped candidates prepare for future recruitment processes. If we look back, the work of promoting the employer brand that used to take place in conferences, now had the capacity to welcome candidates from all over the world. 

Not only that this helped recruiters and HR professionals to maintain visibility among the group of interested candidates, but it gave them the tool to expand it and introduce their company to a much wider audience. It is safe to say that we will only be counting the success and positive impact of such efforts on employer brands in the following year! 

Finally, as we step into 2021 and look back on the previous year, we can conclude that 2020 definitely had a major impact on digitizing all of our work. However, it also taught us an even more important lesson of how embracing digitalization and implementing it into more and more aspects of our work can benefit not only our efficiency but also help build stronger relationships! 

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