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HR Trends and Predictions for 2021

Calendar icon 10th August 2021

By Dan Briselden, a Director in Zeren’s London office.


2021 has, and will continue to be, a huge year for HR; the COVID-19 pandemic has really set the stage for change, and heightened attention towards subjects such as wellbeing, diversity and leadership. Functionally, HR is continually propelling itself into a more innovative, strategic and future state version that is fast becoming a crucial domain within the Tech ecosystem.

Here are my reflections on the current ‘hot topics’ concerning HR across the Tech eco-system throughout Europe.


The Rise of the HR Brand:

  • HR departments, especially those within the Tech sector, are building a specific brand of HR in their businesses, be it People Experience, Talent and Culture, or People Operations, a re-branding which I believe has given HR a new lease of life. It has allowed HR to position itself better as the catalyst of People Experience and Change and Culture, thus challenging “command and control” and moving instead towards trustempowerment, innovation and value.  

Proactive Leadership and Influence:

  • HR has for many years talked about wanting a “seat at the table”; this is becoming much more prevalent throughout the Tech eco-system, with many CHROs reporting directly into the CEO, and having a strong voice at Board-level, often taking responsibility for seismic shifts in culture and helping businesses scale effectively. Out of all the senior-level mandates Zeren were retained on over the past 12 months, 60% have a senior HR leader, with a direct reporting line into the CEO or Founder. Leaders are driving business-owned initiatives such as D&I, Learning, and Employee Wellbeing, and are working closely with Founders to help them convert their vision into People Strategy. 

People Operations:

  • People Operations is one of the hottest skills in HR at present, with the majority of businesses investing in better systems and focusing more on quality and impactful data insights. This provides HR with the platform by which they are able to truly influence when it comes to Resource Planning and Consulting with C-Suite on key business decisions; through the lens of People, HR leaders are able to provide a clear link between data and outcomes. We have seen this used successfully in Talent Succession, Reward, Workforce Planning and Learning. We are seeing much more training available in the market specifically for People-driven data, with some businesses even creating People Data Science functions. 

Out of all the senior-level mandates Zeren were retained on over the past 12 months, 60% have a senior HR leader, with a direct reporting line into the CEO or Founder.

More Intuitive, Personalised Learning:

  • With heightened clamour for talent up-skilling and re-skilling, we are seeing a demand for tailored, Tech-friendly learning. Many companies competing for the same talent will need to look at innovative ways to develop teams internally; utilising both vocational and personal learning tools will enable Tech businesses to build home-grown talent. Providing digital training and utilising AI to provide relevant, user-friendly experiences and relevant content is a great engagement tool for companies searching for more longevity in their employees. 

Talent Acquisition: 

  • No surprise here, Talent Acquisition growth has been huge internationally, with benchmarks for internal TA functions at an all-time high. Many businesses are requiring full-time expertise to build-out fast growing functions, alongside encouraging Talent Management strategies. Some of the big challenges for TA will be building diverse and inclusive recruitment strategies, whilst keeping up with the demand and sheer pace of hiring into candidate-short markets.  

Simplified Reward Programmes:

  • Reward is more of an art than a science in the Tech sector. Depending on where businesses are in their journey, the Compensation philosophy needs to be agile and competitive in order to ensure that the proposition is attractive to inbound talent. We have seen an increase in companies wanting to hire Compensation and Benefits specialists to tackle the task of building a robust Reward Strategy, in order to drive growth and support the retention of key talent. We have typically seen Reward hires being made quite early in the HR team-build, with them often becoming a key feature of the HR Leadership Team.


  • Given the drastic changes to both our personal and professional lives, wellbeing has shot to the top of the list in terms of priorities for HR; in 2020 businesses were very quick to rise to the challenge of supporting a myriad of wellness issues, be that physical, mental, financial or social. The drastic change to ways of working has meant that there has been a significant shift towards a “new normal”, which has impacted not just businesses, but individuals and their respective families. Indeed, the lines between work and home are somewhat blurred, which is making it more challenging to keep a lid on burn-out, depression and stress. Companies are really boosting their wellbeing offerings in an attempt to support individuals, and in many cases their families, too. 

Innovation and Collaboration:

  • HR leaders are increasingly more open in regards to networking and sharing insights across their professional sphere. The HR leaders throughout the Technology sector are building relationships with peers throughout the industry, and tackling business challenges collaboratively for the greater good. We will be facilitating more discussions with our People and Talent network over the coming months, and discussing the latest topics, challenges and thought leadership that exists within the market. 

Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We have done so recently by placing numerous HR and People leaders into the world’s most innovative businesses.


If your business could benefit from the skill-set a HR leader would bring, or if you are a HR leader wishing to transition into the world of high-growth tech, please contact a member of the Zeren team.