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The Future of Workforce Management: Our 2021 Predictions

As we head into 2021, it’s likely that some things will quickly get back to normal. Others will not. Let’s look at what we expect for workforce management in 2021, as well as how companies can handle it.

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As we head into 2021, it’s likely that some things will quickly get back to normal. Others will not. Until a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated, further waves of infection remain a threat

Even if this threat doesn’t emerge, the economy, buyer confidence and workers’ priorities have all been shaped by the dramatic events of 2020. Companies that invest in planning ahead and remaining adaptable stand the best chance of thriving in the year to come.

Let’s look at what we expect for workforce management in 2021, as well as how companies can handle it.

The Casual or Shift Based  Economy Will Continue to Grow

COVID-19 has created volatility, innovation and automation – all conditions that will help the gig economy continue to flourish. The uncertainty caused by lockdowns, reduced consumer spending and worsening economic conditions means companies will benefit from the flexibility that casual workers offer. 

Meanwhile, workers looking to supplement their income will turn to casual work for extra shifts that they can fit around their other commitments.

However, managing casual workers can introduce new challenges: schedules are trickier to plan, awards often mandate different pay rates and allowances, and the ordinary time earnings that determine superannuations are calculated differently.

With Humanforce’s workforce management system, you can automate scheduling and instantly see if a worker is late or absent. Everybody will receive their schedule via email, which they can also check with the Humanforce Mobile App.

Moreover, you can input awards information to help you avoid underpaying staff or miscalculating superannuation. Our automated alert system will instantly warn you of any potential compliance issues.

Communicating will remain critical to harness a team dynamic 

COVID-19 taught us the importance of communicating using different media to our teams.  2021 wont change this and with possibly a different team structure and new team members, the need to communicate before, during and after shifts can help achieve better outcomes for your customers but also improved engagement with your teams.  Harness technology to make communicating personal. meaningful and action-oriented for each of your team. Employee engagement apps will become increasingly important to connect with teams remotely. 

Workers Will Look for Financial Stability 

Australia has experienced its worst economic contraction since the Great Depression. While current financial projections are less bleak than just a few months ago, unemployment is still predicted to reach 7.7% in 2021. Underemployment rates, typically higher than unemployment rates, are also likely to grow.

In this environment, workers will value financial stability. They will likely look for work with regular shifts, as well as part-time jobs with enough flexibility that they can fit alongside a second role.

Companies who make scheduling work for staff, as well as the bottom line, stand to benefit. One way to do so is with the Humanforce Mobile App, through which workers can bid on overtime shifts and view up-to-date schedules as soon as they are confirmed. 

Shift Records Will Be Even More Important 

Following on from the wage theft scandals of recent years, accurate record-keeping is already a pressing issue for many companies. The risk of hefty fines and poor press resulting from accidental underpayment is no small matter.

However, there is now a health and safety aspect to consider: if an ill person passed through a workplace at 8:50 am, then how many staff scheduled to start work at 9 am were already present?

Australia might not be as hard hit as other countries by COVID-19, yet workplaces will want to prepare for any potential future outbreaks – either of coronavirus or other infectious diseases. A failure to do so not only has worrying public health implications but could also lead to an unnecessarily high number of staff members entering quarantine.

Ensuring Gender Equality Will Be Harder

Women bore the brunt of job losses this year, setting back progress towards gender equality in the workplace. Unless employers are careful, the gender equality gap in Australia may continue to increase. 

Flexible work schedules, bias training and a deliberate intent to create a diverse workforce with equal pay will be needed. Empowering staff to register their availability and leave requests, as well as bid for additional shifts. could help female workers succeed in the workplace as they balance other commitments.

Worker and Tax Statuses Could Get Complicated 

As borders remain closed in response to COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the world, many international and migrant workers have found themselves unable to travel for large parts of the year. Those who were forced to stay abroad for longer than expected may find themselves liable to pay foreign tax. This situation is likely to continue into 2021, especially as new outbreaks emerge.

Companies should ensure that they know all employees’ worker and tax statuses. Depending on the country in question, there may be withholding and reporting obligations that affect both wages and superannuations.

This is another area where Humanforce can help, as our workforce management system will alert you when visas and certifications are due to expire. You should also make it a priority to ensure employees know to notify you if their status changes.

Wellbeing Will Remain in the Spotlight

Staff may struggle with increased stress, anxiety and isolation as a result of lockdowns, financial instability and increased isolation. In fact, casual workers are at higher risk of worsening mental health.

As wellbeing continues to remain a major issue, managers will find themselves searching for new ways to check in with staff. Companies that prioritise wellbeing and find ways to remove the taboo of discussing mental health will benefit from greater engagement and productivity.

As much as we might want it to be true, 2021 will not be business as usual. Yet as vaccines are approved and the world opens up again, there will be plenty of opportunities for businesses to return to normal or even grow. Good workforce management practices will be key to taking advantage of these as they arise.

For more on how Humanforce can help your company with workforce management practices in an evolving post-Covid world, get in touch today. We’ll be happy to set up a free, personalised demo.



Almost every shift has its no-shows, late arrivals, and special requests, but, you’ve also got to deal with the big shifts in how people work – everything from new employee expectations to new technologies, new regulations, and other major changes. Humanforce brings a whole new approach to managing your teams where you can simplify the process, see everything at once, and stay ahead of the curve. That’s why thousands of businesses of all sizes – hotels to hospitals, resources to recreation, stadiums to shops and more - use Humanforce to get ready for the next shift.