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That is all that is needed to be said about last year, with each and every one of us drawing our own conclusions as to how we found the challenges and positives presented during that time. One thing for certain however, is that because of 2020 the world of employment will be a very different place in 2021. At Coopman Search and Selection, we have compiled our top 5 employment trends for this coming year including the decentralisation of the workforce, the introduction of hybrid working models, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and more.

Decentralisation is a growing trend amongst financial services professionals and with talk of large institutions setting up hubs outside of major cities, this will continue into 2021

With the removal of restrictive 5-day working weeks in busy city centres, professionals will have increased flexibility to live and work in different locations. Similarly, companies in 2021 will have increased access to countrywide talent pools, which were not previously available in the absence of agile working models. While professionals may be more willing to commute longer distances to city-based offices for their allocated office-based days as part of hybrid working, companies may also start to consider how they can accommodate the decentralisation of the workforce and start the decentralisation of their own offices using the hub and spoke model.

Check out our article by Director Andrew Murphy for Business & Finance in which he discusses this topic.

With the continued success in vaccine development and its planned rollout in 2021, professionals are thinking about their return to the office with many sharing that the ideal arrangement would be 3 days in the office and 2 days at home.

This split, if offered by employers in 2021, would potentially result in the right amount of time being spent in the office to create and develop human capital, the backbone of every company’s culture. The hybrid model will likely see a return to high levels of collaboration and innovation whilst giving sufficient time to employees to focus on task driven deadlines and enjoy more work-life balance at home. Many employers now recognise the benefits of such arrangements and will embed this flexibility into their companies going forward.

In a survey we conducted last year with over 350 financial services professionals about their experiences of remote working, we found that employers can further support employees working from home in 2021.

Employers provided support to their employees last year with 69% of respondents sharing that they received the necessary equipment to work from home and 66% stating that they felt comfortable approaching their employer if they were under stress while remote working. Despite this, employees are working longer hours than ever before with 68% working more than their normal hours every day and 61% working at least 1 weekend every month. Some of the ways in which employers can provide additional support in 2021 include non-communication hours, spontaneous team engagement, flexible working hours, other forms of compensation and more.

Download the guide for in-depth insights and more practical applications for employers to support their employees while remote working.

Covid-19 presented a massive challenge in terms of inclusion in the workplace, while major political and societal events in 2020 highlighted the need for companies to do more in relation to diversity. As a result, employers will focus more than ever on their diversity and inclusion (D&I) commitments and strategies in 2021.

Bringing the D&I agenda to the forefront will be critical for staff retention in 2021, ensuring that employees’ needs are met and that they feel they have a voice to drive change. Employers should take a holistic approach to their D&I strategies this year, focusing on a couple of key areas chosen by employees in which companies can commit to making a real change internally. More importantly, however, is the need to make talent selection the centre of such strategies and to provide equal opportunities to professionals by removing any biases in hiring processes.

Listen to Directors Andrew Murphy & Mark Fallon speak to Siobhan Sweeney of the Open Doors Initiative on the Conversations With Coopman podcast about diversity and inclusion in financial services.

With the mass transition to remote working in financial services, varying levels of restrictions, a lack of social interactions and a shared fear of Covid-19, 2020 proved to be a very stressful year with many people working harder and longer than ever before. As a result, employers will need to focus on mental health and wellbeing policies in 2021.

The right to disconnect and the inability for employees to do so in 2020 has thrusted the importance of supporting positive mental health and wellbeing into the spotlight. To counteract this in 2021, employers will look to technology first and foremost to help employees, providing subscriptions to apps like Headspace and Fitbit, and ensuring regular communication with employees through platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Employers may also provide wellbeing training and programmes for employee groups, and could encourage downtime through half days, blocking emails outside of working hours and allowing time to exercise during the working day. Most importantly, employers will need to provide a supportive environment in which employees feel they can share how they are doing, either through one-on-one conversations or employee surveys.

Listen to Mark Fallon, Coopman Search and Selection Joins Gavin McLoughlin on Newstalk’s Breakfast Business Director Mark Fallon talk on News Talk about the impact of remote working on employees’ mental health and the need for employers to help their workforce.

Coopman Search and Selection is a specialist financial services recruitment company operating internationally across accounting, finance, risk and compliance. We are committed to providing valuable insights on topics that matter to our network.

For more information on employment trends in 2021 or to for insights into what is happening in the financial services market in Ireland, Europe and the UK, contact us at

William McCoppin


William has experience across multiple markets, specialising in compliance and financial crime at the interim, mid-to-senior and executive level.