Job and Workplace Trends For 2021
There's no question that our work lives have been more disrupted than ever before due to Covid-19 and that its impact has accelerated most of the trends that were already occurring in our work culture.
2020 has been a challenging year, both in terms of health and an economic recession. Work and life are blended together now more than any time in world history. 2021 is just around the corner, and with a new year comes with new opportunities.
Top Job Trends For 2021
Following Jobs Will Be in Demand in 2021
1. Software developers
Any position associated with software development will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Our computers have become an extension of us. We depend on them to do everything from writing business reports to emailing Aunt Margaret to ask for a family recipe.
And we're not the only ones. It's tough to think of anyone who doesn't use their computer in some capacity. That's where software developers come in. They're the ones who design the computer software that makes it all possible. The typical educational requirement is a bachelor's degree.
2. Nurse practitioners
If you've spent any time in your doctor's office, it will come as no surprise to you that nurse practitioners are crucial. Depending on the state, a nurse practitioner may be the one to write your prescriptions and refer you to specialists.
In rural areas, nurse practitioners run entire medical offices with little to no input from an MD. You'll need a master's degree to become a nurse practitioner but will enjoy a job with a wide variety of duties that pays a median annual salary of $114,900.
3. Elementary school teachers
Teaching is hard work that makes a difference. It's also a career in high demand. A bachelor's degree is required, and you'll earn a median annual salary of $49,370.
4. Speech-language pathologists
Many children have benefited from the help of a speech pathologist, and it's predicted that as baby boomers age, they will also need these highly trained professionals.
Speech pathologists work with people who have experienced, or are experiencing, health issues that involves language impairment, like stroke or dementia. If you hope to become a speech pathologist, the job typically requires a master's degree.
5. Computer user support specialists
While we're on the subject of computers, support specialists are the backbone. They are the people we call on when we're stuck or don't know what we're doing.
As computer use continues to grow, so does the need for people who help us operate our systems? No college is required, and the median annual salary for a computer user support specialist is $63,380.
6. Registered nurses
We've spent most of 2020 marveling at the talent, dedication, and stamina of registered nurses during COVID-19. Registered nurses are in hot demand, and that's only likely to increase as baby boomers age.
If you enjoy science, are willing to earn a bachelor's degree, and want a demanding job that challenges you, nursing may be right up your alley.
7. Construction managers
The recent building boom puts qualified construction managers in the spotlight. A construction manager must make sure everything meets design specifications while ensuring a project is completed on time and on budget.
Construction managers earn a median annual salary of $95,260 and may be required to hold a bachelor's degree.
8. Financial managers
Businesses want to spend less and put more money in the bank. The demand for talented financial managers is high and expected to grow. Financial managers keep a business on track day-to-day while planning for a more profitable future.
To become a financial manager, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree and can expect to earn a median annual salary of $147,600.
9. Industrial machinery mechanics
This one surprised us a bit, primarily because the manufacturing industry in the U.S. shrunk by 33% between 2000 and 2009. Tougher, leaner companies survived, and new companies appeared on the horizon.
As manufacturing continues its reexpansion, companies will need people to repair and maintain their machines. This job typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent and pays a median annual salary of $62,700.
Since the dawn of the electric light, electricians have been in high demand, and the need for talented electricians is rising. Electricians can work for someone else or start their own business.
These professionals usually have a high school diploma or equivalent and earn a median annual salary of $56,180.
Top workplace trends for 2021:
Workers are prioritizing safety, security, and health when evaluating employers. During Covid-19, employees expect companies to keep their facilities clean, communicate regularly about their reopening status, and maintain safe working conditions.
When job seekers evaluate a job offer, they choose "safety of the work environment" over "opportunities for professional growth" and even the "quality of potential coworkers." Companies that adhere to the CDC's national and localized guidelines will be more effective at recruiting and retaining talent right now because workers need to feel safe before they can feel good about doing their jobs and being part of an organization.
The demand for retraining and reskilling grows.
Gartner reports that only 16 percent of new hires possess the skills needed for their current jobs and the jobs of the future. Meanwhile, Deloitte found that over half of leaders say that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. The most in-demand skills heading into 2021 will be artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, cyber security, disaster recovery, AR & VR, block chain, healthcare IT, and UX design.
While many companies lay off workers during Covid-19, Verizon decided to retrain 20,000 for new careers and Royal Dutch Shell trained their workforce in artificial intelligence in partnership with Audacity. Retraining and up skilling workers will become even more of a need heading into 2021 because markets are shifting and investments in new technology are growing, both due to the impact of Covid-19.
Women will continue to experience workplace setbacks.
Women were more likely to have been either laid off or dropped out of the workforce during Covid-19 and were more likely to have suffered mental health issues. The pandemic heightened the challenges they were already facing around childcare, work-life management, and inequality. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg sounded the alarm when she wrote a Fortune byline stating, "Getting through this crisis means helping women get through it too." With women taking most of the load in the household, and with childcare, over one million have had to drop out of the workforce just to handle the high demands of parenthood at the cost of their careers.
Daycares and schools have shut down, leaving parents with the brunt of the workload on top of their remote jobs. That's why almost two-thirds of women are planning a major career change post-Covid-19 and 25 percent are considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely. To support women, EY has provided discounted tutoring and 24-day access to care giving.
Covid-19 accelerates the digital transformation of the workplace.
Two separate studies by McKinsey and KPMG found that at least 80 percent of leaders accelerated the implementation of technology due to Covid-19. While there was resistance to these technologies in the past, IBM found that two-thirds were able to overcome it due to our current situation? With larger skills gaps, more training is necessary for employees to support the digital transformation needs and speed of change.
Many of these technologies, like contact tracing, collaborative tools, and AI-driven software, have been widely adopted to support employee mental health, increase productivity, allow for flexibility and safety. Levi Strauss went through a digital transformation by leveraging AI and data, launching a virtual concierge service, appointment scheduling, and a new loyalty program.
The hourly workforce is treated like they are essential.
There is no doubt that hourly workers will soon be perceived similarly to full-time employees. Some companies already value their hourly workers. Darden Restaurants provided paid sick leave for hourly workers throughout the pandemic, while Lowe's gave $100 million in bonuses to their workers.
As we move into 2021, hourly workers will be treated like full-time workers in terms of benefits and the value added to their organization.
The dispersed and decentralized global workforce.
Workers are relocating to feel safe, to save money, and to have more space now that they don't have to be in physical offices and can work remotely. An entire 83 percent of employees are in favor of relocating as part of remote working and 20 percent have already done so either temporarily or permanently. To save money on real estate and meet the needs of employees during Covid-19, companies like Nationwide and REI have decentralized their offices.
Nationwide has working-from-office in four main corporate campuses and working-from-home in all their other locations, while REI sold their headquarters, moved their employees to multiple locations, and enacted a complete work-from-home policy. With a decentralized workplace, employees are making more because the cost of living in second-tier cities and suburbs is lower. While two-thirds of employees are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely, others are completely against localized compensation.
The hybrid workplace.
Instead of taking extreme approaches to work environments, many companies have a hybrid approach, where employees come into the office for a few days, while working remotely for the rest. The hybrid workplace model allows for structure and sociability while offering independence and flexibility. When workers were surveyed about their ideal situation, over 72 percent said they wanted a hybrid remote-office model, and Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom says that the optimal situation is remote working for two days a week.
Microsoft's "hybrid workplace" environment will allow most roles to remain remote less than half of the time with manager approval, while 62 percent of Google employees want to return to their offices but not every day. Sodexo has split their workforce into "Team A" and "Team B", where they switch off between office and remote work, thus making the office safer and being flexible. Many employees miss going to physical office spaces; consequently, many companies will be embracing flexible spaces and schedules as we move forward into 2021.
Companies committing to aggressive diversity targets.
Companies recognize that they are being scrutinized more than ever by stakeholders since the Black Lives Matter movement put racism on the map, demanding that all institutions make big changes and investments. This year, 70 percent of job seekers said that they want to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and California now requires companies to include minorities on their boards.
There is a major shift surrounding diversity and many companies have made major public pledges to tell their stakeholders that they will allocate resources to address workplace inequality. Bank of America is pledging $1 billion over the next four years to combat racial and economic inequality, Intel commits to doubling minorities in leadership roles in the next decade and Starbucks is aiming to have a 30 percent representation of minorities in the next five years. Over thirty companies like Amazon, GM, BlackRock, Chevron, and Target have already shared their diversity reports or plan to in the next year.