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Maddy Christopher


Deputy Editor

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HRZone’s 10 most popular reads of 2021

We reveal HRZone’s most-read content among the people profession in 2021.

This year has undoubtedly been a rollercoaster for the world of work and the people that encapsulate it, but HR has kept pushing forward despite a variety of unprecedented setbacks.

What it means to be an employee has changed and how organisations can best support their people has come under a huge amount of scrutiny, meaning HR has had to re-evaluate its standards of best practice as a result.

Leadership qualities became more human-focused, and we began to see emotional intelligence and vulnerable traits like kindness, trust, respect and acceptance being prioritised over competitiveness, overworking and the ‘best self’ image.

As workplace repercussions of the pandemic ensued, flexibility, wellbeing and inclusivity began to move from urgent priorities to key pillars of people-first workplaces. Employees continue to move with their feet to push these priorities even further and HR is beginning to see the rewards of its hard work – but there’s always more to be done.

We’ve seen HR build its capacity to incite change and continually look forwards, whilst considering implications from the ever-increasing autonomy and value of the workforce and each individual. 

HRZone’s top ten most-read articles of 2021 are distinctly reflective of the key themes engaging people professionals this year.

1. Leadership: why kindness is an underrated quality at work

To support the transition to more human-centred leadership, coach and mindfulness trainer Karen Liebenguth encourages leaders to pause and do something for the good of others. She explores where kindness fits in a workplace environment and how leaders can foster kindness and meaningful connection at work to make a happier workforce, ultimately impacting the bottom line.

2. People analytics: Will graph technology revolutionise HR?

People analytics may be the fastest-growing sub-domain of the HR profession, used by social media networks, the space programme and Covid contact tracing, but is graph technology useful for HR departments, asks analytics expert Amy Hodler?

Given it’s a technology designed for relationships, and relationships are the foundation of how HR works, it’s clear that graph technology will have an important future role.

3. The ‘Great Resignation’: Why HR must evolve the employee value proposition

We’ve all heard by now about the mass talent exodus known as‘The Great Resignation’ that has been continually threatened this year. As employees continue to speak out about poor treatment from their employers and vote with their feet, psychologist, HR author and wellbeing specialist Gethin Nadin examines key questions surrounding the changing world of work and how to get ahead of the movement.

4. Organisations need HR to be the change champion

For organisational change to be effective, it is not enough for the HR professional to be seen as the owner of change, they need to be an active advocate of change as well, writes HRZone’s leadership columnist Judith Germain. HR’s ability to function well is rooted in its understanding of the human dynamic, behaviour and attitude to change, as well as the organisation’s capacity to change and the strategic direction it intends to pivot to.

5. Three predictions for HR in 2021: Embracing an agile, intelligence-led mission control

In January 2021, Chief Energy Officer of People and Transformational HR, Perry Timms, shared his predictions for HR in the year ahead and what would be in store for the profession and the world of work. None of us predicted the unprecedented eventualities of 2020. We can now look back and see what we made of 2021.


6. The mental health cost of ‘masking’ and racism in the workplace

Since the Black Lives Matter protests that began in 2020, it has been made clear that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of mental health issues caused by ‘masking’ in the workplace. Holistic wellbeing specialist Valentina Hynes explains how this is a by-product of racism in all its forms and how we can begin to go about removing the mask and breaking down barriers.

7. Employee wellbeing: The seven characteristics of conscious leadership

Drawing attention to conscious leaders contributing to the wellbeing and professional success of the people they lead, Conscious Works analysed what enables people to feel good and deliver great results at work. In this article Founder Natasha Wallace shares the seven characteristics of conscious leadership.

8. Why employee engagement should be an inclusive and collaborative effort

In February 2021, Managing Director of DRIVE Engagement Julie Cameron contended that employee engagement needed to be demystified as an HR issue and perceived as a collaborative effort. Doing so will give a voice to people at all levels in the workplace and facilitating structured opportunities will ensure employees feel like they are wholly connected to the organisation’s vision and its goals.

9. Seven considerations for cultivating a trans-inclusive workplace

Although strong inclusion policies must be omnipresent in all aspects of an organisation, they can’t guarantee employees feeling welcome. In this article, Pride365 CEO Jack Mizel shares seven tips to make your workplace inclusive for transgender employees.

10. A (first iteration) guide to hybrid working for people teams

Hybrid working has been covered rigorously since the pandemic forced organisations to pivot to remote working models, but the next step of distributed, global teams is still an enigma to many. People and talent consultant Maria Gyemant took on the mammoth task of explaining how to design two different operating models and structures to fit two different employee experiences at once.

Looking forward

Despite being less traumatising and unpredictable than 2020 for many, 2021 has been an equal minefield. We’ve seen enormous shifts in working culture, organisational agility and physical workforce structures. And the momentum gathered over the last two years suggests that more change is yet to come. 

HRZone will be monitoring these changes closely and remains a key provider of guidance, strategies and insights on how the people profession can continue to transform the world of work to improve the lives of everyone. Bring on 2022!

Author Profile Picture
Maddy Christopher

Deputy Editor

Read more from Maddy Christopher

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