It is vital to put 2020 behind us and look positively to the future. Planning how you will rebuild and become successful in 2021 relies heavily on having an effective people strategy. In this article, we look at creating a 2021 people plan so you can achieve success through your people.


A Vision for Your Organisation


A people plan focuses on setting out your vision for the organisation and its people for the year ahead to address the company’s most pressing challenges.  It is important that it integrates with the organisation’s business plan for 2021.  For example, if you have relied heavily on the past on recruiting EU nationals, then with the changes to recruitment practices following Brexit, this will no doubt be high on the agenda for how the company addresses this challenge in 2021.


As we continue in the pandemic and continue to work remotely, it may be the business needs to explore further opportunities to make working processes more efficient through technology.  In this case, not only will the business have to manage the practical implementation, but from a people perspective the HR function will need to consider what training is required; which roles are affected; and whether the introduction of new technology and skill sets leads to a business case for reviewing pay. 



Responding to New Challenges and Opportunities


2021 will see us continue to respond to the pandemic, as well as adapt to new ways of operating because of having left the EU.  Whilst there are challenges, there can also be opportunities that positively impact the organisation.  Having a business strategy which addresses both challenges and opportunities will be key, and from this, setting out how you will achieve success through your people will be essential.


Business Plan


2020 has been the most difficult trading year, worldwide.  With national and localised lockdowns, and many businesses operating in a stop, start fashion.   2021 will therefore be about rebuilding and becoming stronger, and to do so, having a clearly articulated business plan will be key.  


Developing a business strategy requires careful consideration of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats so that success can be defined.  Carrying out the analysis will best determine the future direction of the business and is the basis for how you achieve success through your people. 


People Plan


You cannot have a business plan without a people plan and vice versa; they go hand in hand.   Having a clearly articulated people plan will have a positive and direct impact on how the company delivers and achieves its goals.  A clearly defined people plan will ensure you have the right structure, resource, and skills in place to be able to deliver on the business plan.

When creating a people plan, the priority is to fully understand the needs of the business for the year ahead and the goals that have been set.  Examining the strengths and weaknesses from a human resource perspective is necessary before considering where the opportunities and threats lie.  From there, taking the whole employment lifecycle will be a good approach to methodically identifying how you can achieve success through people.  This hot topic therefore looks at the employment lifecycle and how a people plan can be devised around it.


Organisational Structure


This part of the planning should focus on ensuring you have the right organisational structure in place to deliver on the objectives.  We are seeing changing customer needs because of Covid-19, as well as a need to do business differently, with an even greater focus on technology.  Having a deep understanding of what your organisation needs to do to be successful in 2021 will depend on whether the structure is fit for purpose given the external challenges.  So, having your 2021 business goals in mind; consider the following questions regarding your people:

  • Are there any roles in the current structure carrying out activities that are better suited elsewhere?
  • Are any of the roles over stretched and/or are there roles underutilised?
  • Do you have enough resource to be able to accomplish the work or are you over resourced?
  • Do existing reporting lines ensure efficient ways of working or are there any roles better suited under the responsibility elsewhere in the business?
  • Do you have the right skills in the right job roles?
  • Do you have sufficient flexibility within the workforce to be able to adapt quickly?
  • Are there any skill gaps in the existing structure? If so, to what extent is the gap?
  • Have you considered what roles you will need in the future and what may be needed by way of succession planning?
  • Are there any functions that could be brought in from outside?
  • Do you anticipate recruiting from outside the UK?


Possible actions available:


  1. Restructuring the business to ensure it is aligned to 2021 business needs, challenges, and opportunities ahead. Restructuring may or may not include a need for carrying out redundancies.
  2. Outsourcing to make cost efficiencies and to buy in expertise.
  3. Upskilling existing workforce.
  4. Adopting a temporary 4-day operating week.
  5. Review job descriptions and competencies.
  6. Conduct performance reviews to identify untapped skills.
  7. Identify roles and the extent to which they may be worked flexibly, or remotely on a more permanent basis.
  8. Identify clear development paths within the structure that enables growth from within as well as act as a tool for employee engagement.


Other Important Considerations for a 2021 People Plan

For the other key points to consider when creating your organisation’s 2021 People Plan, read the full article by HR Solutions at to get detailed guidance on the following topics:


  • Recruitment and Attraction
  • Onboarding
  • Employee Development
  • Employee Relations
  • Looking After Your people
  • New Ways of Working
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Leaving Employment
  • Example Format for a People Plan.


Further HR Guidance

  • Webinar Recording: you can watch the HR Solutions webinar recording called ‘Are You Ready for 2021? Creating a 2021 People Plan’
  • HR Knowledge Base:  this online portal is the go-to resource for thousands of business owners and managers across the UK.  The HR Knowledge Base includes HR documents, templates, legal updates, news, and hot topic articles as well as access to free webinars and HR seminars.  To find out more call 0844 324 5840 or visit