Key HR considerations for 2021: Recruitment & Retention, Health & Safety and Reward & Recognition

Shannon Chamber HR is a dedicated HR and Employment Law Support Service for members of Shannon Chamber provided in partnership with Adare Human Resource Management, experts in Employment Law, Industrial Relations, Human Resources and Health & Safety at preferential rates.

Over the next few weeks Derek McKay, Managing Director of Adare Human Resource Management will be providing advice for businesses who are trying to plan their HR strategies for 2021. Not an easy task when there is still so much uncertainty and the health crisis continues to evolve.

Given the recent announcements on vaccines, there is optimism as we head into the last few weeks of what has been an exceptionally challenging year for many. But there’s still some way to go yet for businesses, particularly SMEs, before we get back to any sense of normality.

One of the biggest issues facing business owners as they plan 2021 is right-sizing their organisation   to ensure they are adequately resourced, specifically with the right skills in the right areas of the business. This of course is against the backdrop of financial stability. We have already seen several announcements from numerous businesses on planned redundancies and there is a general expectation this will continue into the first half of next year.

However, organisations need to plan with clear objectives for 2021; and where there is opportunity for growth, in some or all aspects of the business then recruiting and, more importantly, retaining the right people is key to this growth. There’s no doubt that there are still some turbulent times ahead but organisations need to plan for different scenarios; flexibility and agility are key to the success of business strategies when trying to deal with uncertainty. Our 2020 HR Barometer Report identified “Addressing Covid-19 challenges” and “Uncertainty and change” as the top two challenges facing organisations next year, highlighting the importance of plans and while they are likely to change, not having a plan in place is far worse that having to adapt.

The following are some key HR considerations for organisations when planning ahead for 2021.

Recruitment & retention

Our research finds that “Retention” and “Recruitment and resourcing” continue to be key priorities for organisations. This year, the HR Barometer research found that voluntary employee turnover increased in 2019 to 17%, compared to 14% in 2018. And the expectation for 2020 is that it will be 14% again this year. There can be many ‘pull’ or ‘push’ factors, including change of location, increased salaries or perceived lack of support and engagement. One of the greatest challenges facing organisations generally is finding and holding on to talented employees. Implementing effective retention strategies will help create more reasons for employees to stay.

Interestingly, when we asked organisations what steps or initiatives they had introduced to reduce employee turnover, the top three were “Flexible working arrangements”, “Employee engagement initiatives” and “Focus on company culture”.

Employee retention strategies can help an organisation to retain its most valuable employees. Implementing even basic retention practices can result in lower levels of employee turnover and helps to minimise the risk of key employees leaving.

Given the emergence of flexible working arrangements as a key retention strategy, we asked organisations what would influence their decision to introduce remote working. Over a fifth (22%) stated “Attracting talent” with the exact same percentage stating “Staff retention”; the top two factors. Employers are recognising that when managed effectively, remote working has several organisational benefits. Also, given the stop start nature of the lockdowns, more organisations are formalising their remote working policies.

Health & safety

It’s not surprising that Health & Safety is a key consideration for HR heading into 2021. While there is comprehensive legislation that covers health, safety and welfare of employees in the workplace, the current pandemic has given rise to concerns for employers that they may not have previously experienced.

Given the percentage of people remote working, employers must remain mindful of their responsibilities under the Health, Safety and Welfare Acts, including ensuring a safe workplace regardless of where the employee is working.

Adare Human Resource Management, in partnership with Shannon Chamber, now offers a comprehensive VDU training and remote working risk assessment solution for organisations with employees working at home, ensuring they remain compliant with legislation.

Reward & recognition

While ‘reward and recognition’ is often simply looked at in the context of salary, organisations have been taking a much more holistic approach. This will be even more evident in 2021 as just 22% of organisations we spoke with are planning salary increases next year.

Given employment retention is a key pillar of HR strategies in 2021, recognition becomes even more important. Effective employee recognition is a central part of the employment relationship. Employers that understand the importance of recognising, validating and valuing excellent work keep employees motivated and represents an effective method of reinforcing expectations and goals.

However, some of the tools that we might be used to when it comes to reward and recognition are not available during Covid-19, such as social events, internal promotions. This involves a bit of creativity on the part of employers and HR professionals and requires communication and meaningful employee engagement.


The danger of not getting some of these considerations right is disenfranchising employees. Take the time to listen to employees and what empowers them, particularly in the difficult and challenging times we’re currently experiencing. Being agile and having different plans in place is critical. And most importantly, ensuring employees feel their contribution is critical to the success of the business.


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For further information on the HR and Employment Law support services provided, to arrange a meeting or to receive a quote, contact the team at Shannon Chamber – / 061 360 611