The disruptions over the past two years have made predicting what will happen in the world of work a challenging mission. And while things do remain a little uncertain for 2022, it’s clear that business and HR leaders will need to continue to adapt to new hybrid working conditions and address continued disruptions. What is also evident is that employees – the humans that are at the heart of every company – will have a more important role than ever before, with leaders recognising the importance of bringing humanity to the workplace.
So, without further ado, here are my HR predictions of what HR trends to look out for in the year to come:
Building and maintaining culture and engagement in a hybrid workplace will be a priority
Work will never be the same as it was before the pandemic, with hybrid environments here to stay to accommodate ever-changing regulations, evolving workplace practices and to meet employee expectations. Indeed, after two years of remote and/or hybrid work, employees expect to continue to be able to work with some level of flexibility. Workhuman’s recent survey shows that people not only want flexibility but they need it to be able to maintain a healthy work-life balance and to work in a way that suits them. Deloitte also found that, for Gen Z, flexibility and adaptability are the most critical characteristics contributing to workplace success.
In this continued hybrid environment, navigating new ways of strengthening and building a robust company culture where employees are engaged, productive and performant in the new world of work is on the top of every HR leader’s list for 2022.
With this is mind, organisations will need to continue investing time, resources, and effort into programmes that help build and maintain their company culture to ensure their humans stay connected, productive and engaged. After all, if we’re happy in the work that we do; if we enjoy spending time with our colleagues both virtually and in person; if we feel that our work has purpose and meaning; if the workplace culture is one of support, inclusion and opportunity, then we’re more likely to bring out best selves to work each day, and work harder as a result.
Much of this culture change can be brought over from investments made over the past two years, which shouldn’t be forgotten. Businesses everywhere have made huge steps forward in making workplaces – in person, virtual and hybrid – better for their people, whether it’s increasing physical wellbeing offerings, ensuring mental health support, encouraging people to celebrate life events or simply holding regular team meetings for catching up. Businesses shouldn’t let these efforts go to waste and instead take these practices and learnings into the new year with pride.
The Great Resignation is here – and employees will have the power
2021 has seen record number of people quitting their jobs in what has been dubbed the Great Resignation. Workhuman found that 46% of UK employees plan to quit their jobs over the next 12 months, findings that have been found time and time again, including that 1 in 4 people in the UK are planning an imminent job change.
Considering these are ‘voluntary quits’ from employees, the Great Resignation is not something organisations can take lightly and is a serious wake-up call for company culture. People have seen how different work can be when organisations adapt and innovate, they’ve seen when companies get it right – and when companies get it wrong. Putting work first is no longer necessarily the top priority for people – they want a culture of understanding, recognition and humanity too.
To build such a culture, organisations are going to have to work harder to show employees that they value their contributions, beyond salary raises and bonuses. It means helping people take care of their whole selves and looking at the benefits that matter most to people, such as mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing options, workplace flexibility, parental support, and more. It means building a culture of psychological safety where employees feel comfortable and empowered to be their true selves – where they can share their thoughts without reproach and be accepted for who they are. Otherwise, they’ll go looking for work elsewhere.
DE&I will more important than ever
One of the many disappointing consequences of the pandemic was the adverse effect it had on DE&I in the workplace, with women, ethnic minorities and other underrepresented groups of people being most severely impacted.
Getting DE&I back on track is vital. To begin with, a diverse workforce brings diversity of thought, and a better bottom line as a result. An inclusive workforce is where everyone is welcomed and accepted for being themselves, where they can be psychologically safe and bring their whole selves to work. A workplace where women hold leadership roles is one of powerful empathy and vulnerability, where DE&I progress is stronger and resilience in the next crisis is greater.
What’s more, in the face of the Great Resignation, it is especially important that organisations prioritise their DE&I – DE&I is no longer a nice to have for employees, but a must have. Workhuman’s October Human Workplace Index shows that 66% of respondents stated their company’s DE&I strategy impacts their feelings about how long they plan to stay in their position, and as younger generations enter the workforce, their expectations will be even higher.
So, in 2022, leaders must be transparent on their DE&I progress, show how they are working to tackle pertinent issues and be open to receiving employee feedback on how the workplace can be made better for everyone. In turn, this will build trust, respect and progress will be made. In addition, respect for all will be a key part of 2022 DE&I efforts. An active culture of respect for everyone because of the differences everyone brings to the table is vital to engagement, loyalty, and innovation.
While 2022 remains uncertain, the most successful organisations will be those that champion their people; that take the time to listen to their employees to hear what they would like to see in their workplace; that create a new culture of humanity, respect, and inclusion where everyone is part of the future of work.