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2021 Workplace Trends

Smiling woman in an office on a video call.

After the rollercoaster that was 2020, many of us wonder what’s in store for this year. The good news is, with the vaccine rollout and the potential for the economy to start gaining traction again, more and more organizations are starting to hire.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the job market over the next few months—and what that might mean for your organization. And if you’d like a deeper dive into the subject, don’t miss our 2021 Salary Guide. It breaks down real data for over 20,000 salaries in UX, marketing, creative, development, search, and analytics across the U.S. and Canada, as well as how salaries are affected by the pandemic, gender, and geography.

A Forever Change in How We Do Business

The pandemic forced remote work as many offices shut down to stop the spread. Yet, with 80% of U.S. employers saying this shift has been successful for business, it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll ever fully go back to the way things were.

Ryan Healy, founder of Brazen, a leading virtual hiring event platform, puts it this way: “For many companies, doing business virtually is not a point in time but rather a permanent paradigm shift, and recruitment tactics and tools need to mirror this." 


As behemoths like Facebook and Twitter begin to hire people from everywhere, smaller companies are following suit. The remote job market has cracked wide open.

Yep. They’re Hiring.

Daniel Chait, CEO of recruiting software Greenhouse, says to get ready for what he calls The Great Rehiring. “When COVID is mitigated, and life can start returning to normal, it's possible that more people will re-enter the workforce in 2021 than in any single year on record,” he says.

As expected, jobs that became in-demand as COVID raged are still growing. And, with businesses on the fast track to move into all things digital, roles that support those operations also continue to boom, many of those in the customer experience realm. Right now, this is a new space for many companies—so the hiring expansion can be quite rapid.

In our Cheat Code for Growth, a survey of 322 marketing leaders, 95% say that customer experience positions are critical, followed closely by UX and brand marketing. Not only that, but 85% say that having the right talent in place has a direct impact on the ability to achieve a transformation strategy. 

Additionally, 2020 was a record year for startup fundraising, so look for jobs in the tech sector to pick up again too.

Permanent Has Its Perks

Another trend for this year is the rising number of permanent roles. In our latest Talent Insights Report, Regional Vice President Mark Brim noted that permanent hires for UX, CX, brand strategy, and digital marketing talent were in demand as industries revamp their business models, branding, and user experience to thrive in the new reality.

Interestingly, ADP Research Institute found that 82% of workers would rather have a permanent job than freelance or contract. Jeff Phipps, Managing Director for ADP, says, “In uncertain times, the structure that permanent roles provide is very attractive.”


Our own Direct Hire service has seen a steady rise in permanent hires starting in November 2020, with no signs of slowing down. 

Salaries Staying Steady

While the world was zigging and zagging over the past year, salaries were pretty much status quo. In this year’s Salary Guide, we found that while millions may have lost jobs, salary reductions weren’t significant enough to affect the median. In fact, the pandemic has even driven up pay for Digital Marketing Specialists, Full Stack Developers, Digital Producers, and UX Designers—these are some of the in-demand roles that companies need as millions of customers do business exclusively online.

In recent J. Thelander Consulting-PitchBook survey findings, about 86% of the 200 companies surveyed said they didn't cut salaries as a result of the pandemic, and 81% reported that they don't expect to modify or adjust their bonus plans. 


Diversity is Critical

One area that can’t be ignored: diversity and inclusion in hiring. This issue skyrocketed to the forefront last year as mass protests erupted nationwide over police brutality against Black Americans and the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others. 

And just as consumers are demanding accountability from brands, so too are employees for their workplaces. A study by Workplace Intelligence and Oracle discovered that 70% of job seekers want to work for a company that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Recruiters will be key to a diverse pipeline, removing arbitrary entry barriers and holding hiring managers accountable. Staffing agencies, like yours truly, are embracing metrics to ensure diversity among candidates and educate staff on how to foster racial equality and social justice.

Let’s Keep Cranking

In this new year, we’re choosing to be optimistic about the bright spots that emerged despite, or even because of, last year’s turmoil. (Some of the best inventions have been born out of recessions, wars, and plagues.) We’re excited to use these opportunities to help companies continue to recover and grow. Give us a shout to get started today!

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