2020 Rewind: The HR trends that defined the year

As 2020 draws to a close and we ring in 2021, it’s the perfect time to reflect upon the year that was. Cast your mind back to 12 months ago… you wouldn’t have believed what 2020 had in store. From the devastating Australian bushfires, to the history-making US election, and the world-changing COVID-19 global pandemic… this year has been like no other. 

Despite the global chaos that occurred this year…life still went on. Workplaces had to adapt to this new normal, and change their traditional HR processes in order to keep the ball rolling. 

Let’s discuss which HR and recruitment trends were most prevalent this year!


1. The rise of WFH

No surprises here! Remote working has undoubtedly been the biggest trend to come out of 2020. Due to strict, worldwide lockdowns, going into the office to complete a 9-5 workday was no longer an option. For those who were lucky enough to remain employed amidst the crisis, working from home became the new norm. Research from Roy Morgan showed that 4.3 million Australians worked from home during the peak of COVID-19 – that is nearly one-third of the workforce. 

Remote work didn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Productivity was a struggle for many, as the every-day workflow was flipped on its head. Employees and employers alike were forced to reinvent their working processes and strategies in order to remain motivated and on-track, without the luxuries of resources and support that are readily available in an office environment. Let’s give a huge shout-out to  telecommunication platforms such Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack. Who knows where we would be without them! 

As COVID (hopefully) eases off in 2021, the #WFH trend won’t be going anywhere. Many employees have found that working from home is preferable, as it allows for greater flexibility, work-life balance, and time and money savings (thanks to no-more daily commutes). Companies see the benefits as well; Australian software giant Atlassian achieved incredible success throughout 2020, and decided that their employees can have the option to work from home permanently! This is no outlier – as highly-influential tech companies such as Airbnb, Twitter, Apple and Google are moving in the same direction of a ‘hybrid model’ of work. So… don’t go crazy buying work attire these Boxing Day sales – who knows if you’ll even need them in 2021. 


2. Video interviews as the go-to candidate screening tool

Remote working has led to a consequential shift towards virtual recruitment. A tool that has been especially prevalent this year is video interviews as a means to screen candidates, prior to a live online interview. A study by recruitment company Walters People determined a 67% increase in video interviews in just four weeks between February and March, due to the threat of COVID.

It’s almost as though MyRecruitment+ introduced video interviews because we knew 2020 was coming… there’s a conspiracy theory for you! Not only were they ideal for screening candidates throughout lock downs, they were lifesavers for HR/managers who were working overtime to support their current employees. Spending hours individually calling or video-chatting each potential candidate just wasn’t feasible in 2020 – no one had the time, nor the energy. 

Video interviews not only benefited managers, but they provided candidates with added flexibility throughout the recruitment process. During the peak of isolation and lock downs, candidate’s living situations were often a barrier when it came to attending a live screening interview or phone call. Accessing a quiet, interruption-free environment for an extended period of time was often impossible for candidates, as households were filled to the brim with housemates, partners, or hyperactive kids. Thankfully, video interviews were to the rescue. Short recordings of screening questions could be filmed by the candidate at any time that suited them. 

If you’re interested in learning more about video interviews, and more reasons why they have been so popular in 2020, check out the article we wrote for recruiter.com


3. Soft skills > everything

In 2020, recruiters have valued soft skills equally, if not more-so, compared to hard or ‘technical’ skills. Of course, we could attribute this shift to rises in tertiary educated, highly qualified candidates, or to companies implementing more-advanced employee training programs. However, COVID-19 has absolutely fast tracked this soft skill trend, as employers are seeking candidates who can not only adapt to unforeseen changes, but thrive when faced with uncertainty

This year has taught us that you never know what’s around the corner! Employers want the talent they hire to remain productive, professional and forward-thinking when presented with hurdles. No matter how knowledgeable or technically-capable a candidate may be, there is no use if they crumble when presented with a challenge! 

Check out this article written by our very own Cassie Diamantis, where she discusses which soft skills were most in-demand this year! 


4. A focus on candidate experience with the help of modern-tech

As the saying goes…your candidate today is your customer tomorrow

If you pay any attention to HR or recruitment news, you would have seen the term ‘candidate experience’ literally everywhere this year. Throughout 2020, employers have recognised the value in acquiring the top-talent in order to build the team to survive during these uncertain economic times. In order to ‘win over’ these candidates and position themselves as the employer-of-choice, managers have placed emphasis on providing candidates with a seamless, easy and transparent recruitment and onboarding experience.

In order to provide candidates with a fabulous recruitment and onboarding journey, there must be an emphasis on humanity and personalisation. Due to COVID, this year has caused us to be physically disconnected, however in recruitment, we’ve been more connected than ever! Ironic, I know. Modern technology in the form of recruitment software has enabled employers to achieve that optimal candidate experience, building a relationship with their talent. 

Such software has allowed employers to achieve a consistent stream of communication with their candidates, providing them with the automated email and text message updates, feedback and reassurance that they deserve. 2020 brought enough uncertainties! Furthermore, automated, digital onboarding has simplified the contract and employment-form process, allowing the new-hire to start ASAP.

Beyond everything, providing a positive candidate experience allows employers to display kindness and empathy. After all, it’s been an extremely tough year for job-seekers. A positive candidate experience has been that silver lining for candidates, reinstating their hope in the job market, giving them confidence looking forward!


5.  #SocialRecruiting 

The use of social media as a corporate tool has been popular for over a decade now. However, 2020 has seen a shift in social media usage among employers. Social media platforms are utilised more-and-more as a tool to post job advertisements and promote the employer brand.

Social recruiting refers to use of social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in order to promote job opportunities, reach talent and communicate with potential candidates. 

In 2020, employers have rediscovered the power of careers sites as a primary recruitment hub, and a location where all candidate traffic is redirected to. This has encouraged the use of social recruitment to post jobs and reach candidates organically, minimising the amount of paid-job boards used. 

Notable benefits of social recruiting include that it’s virtually free, it utilises a company’s acquired social following, and engages passive candidates (who account for 75% of the workforce!). It also promotes audience engagement (through comments, likes and shares) to boost reach, helping to build a solid reputation and employer brand. Social recruiting doesn’t just benefit employers –  it works in favour of candidates too. 59% of employees say that a company’s social media presence was a contributing factor when they chose their workplace, and a whopping 79% of job applicants use social media in their job search. That’s huge!


6. Employee wellbeing as the top priority 

If we’re focusing on the positive outcomes of 2020 – the priority of the wellbeing and mental health of employees has been a major trend as a result of COVID-19. 

In light of everything that happened this year, offering employees enough professional and emotional support has been an area of focus for employers. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and anxiety have been prevalent among everybody this year, and added work-related pressures have not made things any easier. When employees are struggling with concerns in their personal lives, such as sick loved-ones, financial pressures, or mental health battles – is it reasonable to expect them to prioritise work?Thankfully, many employers have recognised this, and have implemented programs, support services and even just general culture adjustments to address employee wellbeing. Just by simply asking the question “are you okay?”, employers have been able to make a huge difference in the lives of their employees.

Click here to learn more about how you can check up on your employees heading into the new year.




On behalf of everyone at MyRecruitment+, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. 2020 has been such a challenging year, yet we are beyond grateful for our incredible clients who have allowed us to make it through to the other side! Enjoy the break – we can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store! Over & out.