5 Important HR Trends For 2022
The business world seems to have changed more in the past two years than it had in the previous 10. Organizations around the globe have accelerated their digital transformation efforts, adopted new remote work policies and evolved their culture to meet changing employee and customer expectations.
Most recently, organizations have been faced with staffing issues, supply chain disruptions and increased scrutiny from outside observers. With so much change in a relatively short time span, HR leaders have had to operate with their heads on a swivel, trying to anticipate the next big challenge.
The current situation may seem dire, but the long-term outlook here is not all doom and gloom — far from it, actually.
A lot of the changes that have already happened, and those in motion will set the stage for success in years to come. HR has been, and will continue to be, a force for innovation in the business world. HR leaders have an important opportunity to help redefine and modernize the culture within their organizations. To that end, here are five important HR topics to focus on in your organization in 2022.
1 Improving Internal Mobility
In 2021, we’ve seen a lot of employees leaving their current roles for better opportunities. This phenomenon, known as the “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle,” has significantly impacted nearly every industry. While it seems that no business is immune, the organizations with the strongest cultures are the ones retaining the most employees.
There are many aspects to good company culture, but one of the most important cultural factors for 2022 and beyond is internal mobility. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 51 per cent of learning and development professionals stated that internal mobility is a higher priority now than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The same report states that employees at high internal mobility companies stay for twice as long compared to those in low mobility organizations.
Many organizations are struggling to fill roles as they open. It’s critically important to not only focus on attracting new employees but retaining those employees and your current staff as well. Employees, especially those that are the highest performing, do not want to feel like they have nowhere to go within the organization.
Internal mobility is also good for business, with benefits including increased retention, engagement and agility. Hiring internally also reduces cost and time of hiring and makes it easier to develop high-potential employees and focus on leadership succession planning. It makes sense to look at proven talent, and employees who move around within an organization have perspective that would take years for outside talent to develop.
If your organization does not have a strong infrastructure for internal mobility, now is the time to start building. As we move into 2022, look to add new development opportunities, evaluate your leadership succession plan, and consider your internal talent pool when new opportunities open.
2 Accelerated Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion efforts (D&I) are becoming more important to companies every year. According to the annual HR Sentiment Survey, D&I was second only behind employee well-being and mental health for strategic HR priorities in 2021. For reference, D&I was not even in the Top 5 HR priorities listed in the 2020 survey and has jumped to the second spot for this past year. The focus on D&I is accelerating quickly and shows no signs of stopping in 2022 and beyond.
While some organizations have made significant strides in their D&I initiatives, many are still playing catch-up. A culture of inclusion, representation and equitable treatment is not only important to employees, but also customers and investors. People don’t only want to work for companies that align with their values; they will buy from them and invest in them too.
D&I is quickly becoming a core value in the culture of many companies. For a D&I initiative to work, it needs to be meaningful and impactful, and include all areas of the company. From hiring to training, development and advancement, HR has a significant role in driving D&I as a cultural imperative.
With 2022 almost a third over, now is time to evaluate where improvements can be made to D&I at your company. Securing executive buy in is critical to the success of D&I initiatives. Leadership must understand the value of new D&I initiatives and how they align to the company’s goals. Identify the weak points in your D&I strategy and secure the executive alignment needed for future success.
3 Focusing on Meaningful Work
Meaningful work is a key employee engagement driver. For many workers, work is not just a means to an end. They want work that is fulfilling and contributes to something bigger than themselves. As a result, organizations whose workers feel connected to their work enjoy greater business growth and customer satisfaction than those whose workers do not.
For HR professionals, it can be a challenge to demonstrate that a role or function is meaningful. The work a company does will not have the same meaning for everyone. It’s important for current and prospective employees to understand the value of their role, both to themselves and the organization. Throughout the hiring process and even after an employee is onboarded, communicate the impact that their role will have in the company. Employees want to know what they are responsible for and why it matters.
One of the best ways to gauge if employees feel the work they are doing is meaningful is to get their input with surveys and conversations. This serves two purposes — you get actionable data and they feel valued, which can increase their sense of meaning within the company. By collecting feedback and acting on it, you are building a culture of meaning in your organization.
4 Redefining Employee Experience
Employee experience is often what sets the most successful companies apart from their peers. Employees who have positive experiences are more likely to commit to an organization than those with negative experiences. Positive employee experience also leads to better engagement and productivity.
Companies that demonstrate a commitment to employees and focus on values, mission and higher purpose provide better employee experience. Other factors include great compensation and benefits and an environment of trust and respect between workers and their leaders where all feedback is encouraged.
Three key components of employee experience are workplace, culture and emotional well-being. HR leaders need to give attention to all three, especially now when many employees are working completely remotely or in a hybrid environment.
The shift to remote work has many questioning what a great employee experience should look like after the pandemic. The answer is not to go back to how things were.
In 2022, evaluate your employee experience framework. Understand the most critical parts of the employee journey in your company, and what could be better. Do employees have the tools needed to be successful, whether working remotely or in the office? Are employees experiencing burnout, or is there a good balance between work and the other aspects of their lives? Are employees receiving the support they need to excel? The answers to those questions and more can help you redefine what great employee experience means in your organization going forward.
5 Evolving the Office and Work Week Model
Conversations around work flexibility are at an all-time high, and it’s time to consider that a new office and work week model will be necessary going forward. Many knowledge workers have become accustomed to working remotely and would like to continue to do so at least some of the time.
How companies adapt the way their employees can work will largely depend on industry and the company’s culture and objectives. The norm for 2022 and beyond looks to be a hybrid model, where employees are in the office for a few days a week and working remotely for the rest. For both employers and employees, it’s become increasingly apparent that productive work can happen outside of the office.
One option that organizations are exploring is a four-day work week. From 2015-2019, Iceland ran a trial four-day work week with 2,500 workers and the results were excellent. Productivity improved or remained the same, and workers were less stressed. In fact, 78 per cent of employees with four-day work weeks are happier and less stressed, according to 4 Day Week Global. Companies, such as Kickstarter and Bolt, have been piloting a four-day work week in 2021 in the U.S., and Unilever is exploring a four-day work week in New Zealand. The four-day work week may not be suitable for every organization, but it seems to be an increasingly viable option for many.
Shorter work weeks, flexible start and end times and remote work are drivers of work-life balance. Implementing any of these policies requires a significant amount of trust in employees, but the results can be outstanding.
Navigating the waves of change and uncertainty since the COVID-19 pandemic began has been one of the biggest challenges facing HR leaders and professionals. For better or worse, there is even more change on the horizon. How we choose to embrace and adapt to that change is vital to the success of our organizations not only next year, but for many years to come.
is the head of Human Resources for Televerde, the preferred global revenue creation partner supporting marketing, sales and customer success for B2B businesses around the world.
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