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Becky Norman


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Did your 2022 HR predictions come true?

We asked this question to a selection of our top HRZone guest writers. Discover how effective their crystal ball gazing.

When embarking on 2022, most of us were vaguely prepared for another year of uncertainty and complexity for organisations. But the extent of hardships – the relentlessness of chaos – is what threw us.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine. Economic downturn. Political bedlam. Strikes. Unabating burn out. Stagnating cultures. Bad leadership. Quiet Quitting.

We anticipated a few of these, but certainly not all…

It was perhaps a bit cruel of us, therefore, to ask our top HRZone writers to look back at their 2022 prediction and assess the extent to which it ‘came true’. But, as proponents of reflective practice, we did it nonetheless.

Here’s what they had to say about their crystal-ball gazing skills…

Prediction: Kindness and compassion will underpin good leadership in 2022

Karen Liebenguth, coach and mindfulness trainer, Green Space Coaching and Mindfulness

BANI – a new acronym perhaps reflective of current times – stands for Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible. Where kindness and compassion do not necessarily underpin good leadership, the emergence of BANI provides evidence that leaders, at all levels, urgently need to pause to examine their inner skills, mindset and attitude towards self and others. The state of the world shows that most leaders lead from a mindset of greed, aversion, pride and grandiosity. 

Kindness and compassion allow leaders to honestly asses themselves and to move from ‘what I need and want’ to ‘what others need and want’. Kindness is non-sentimental; it is the bedrock of all positive states of mind and hence attitudes that make good leadership. 

Many HR departments have slipped back into bureaucracy and restricted their influence to ‘people only’ projects.

Prediction: Connections-based machine learning (ML) will bolster employee retention in 2022

Amy Hodler, graph analytics and AI consultant

We know that relationships are highly predictive of behaviour. Graph algorithms (e.g. PageRank) look at these connections and are already used to predict customer churn. It didn’t seem like a stretch for companies to use graph-based ML to improve employee retention in 2022. For example, if an influential employee (high PageRank score) leaves the company, our overall churn rate might increase, even for people they don’t know directly.

Instead, we saw the application of standard ML techniques to new areas of employee data, such as conjoint analyses looking at how people rank one thing in context to another. The use of ML in employee programmes is still highly focused on quality hiring. However, as employee retention programs mature, I expect companies to use state-of-the-art techniques like graph analytics prevalent in other retention programmes.

Prediction: 2022 will see the rise of the highly selective employee

Gethin Nadin, Award-winning Psychologist and Chief Innovation Officer, Benefex 

As I suspected, the move to organisations putting their people at the centre became mainstream. Edelman studied the views of 17,000 people in 14 countries and found that 40% believe the employee is now the most important stakeholder in the success of a company. With this newfound power and influence, employees have been demanding more from employers. The masses have been wanting more wellbeing support and better benefits. Benefex published its high-profile employee experience research in March this year and we found:

  • When choosing a new employer, how it commits to supporting their wellbeing is now the number one priority for new employees
  • 88% wanted better and more support at work
  • 88% wanted better and more employee benefits

But this is just the start of that journey. While a recession will no doubt stall ‘The Great Resignation’, history tells us that as the economy recovers, employees will regain the confidence they’ve built up and we will all have to get back to trying harder to retain the best people by the end of 2023. Looking back at 2022 will no doubt help us better prepare for the future.

We still haven’t named the paradoxical nature of HR work in 2022.

Prediction: HR will become the change champions of their organisation this year

Judith Germain, HRZone leadership columnist and leading authority on Maverick Leadership

At the start of this year, I predicted HR would become recognised as change champions and integral to organisational change. This was following the upturn in respect and conferred influence of HR throughout the organisation, as a result of the profession’s ability to mobilise and affect significant change during Covid-19.

Unfortunately, many HR departments have slipped back into bureaucracy and restricted their influence to ‘people only’ projects, missing the opportunity to become fundamental stakeholders in wide-ranging organisational change.

In 2023, HR could:

  • Return to a ‘Covid mindset’ and become more versatile in their responses
  • Learn how to become better influencers
  • See ‘change’ as the ‘business’ of HR and act accordingly

HR will showcase the power of paradoxical prowess

Perry Timms, Chief Energy Officer, People and Transformational HR Ltd

I don’t think we’ve had a paradox revelation or even a realisation in 2022. However, I have seen:

  • Recruitment: A paradoxical demand and capacity issue with hiring challenges in a downturned economy
  • Engagement: A paradox of concerns about job stability and a cost-of-living crisis whilst showing rebellious activities like the phenomena of quiet quitting
  • Skills: A paradox of skills shortages and yet leaders underinvesting in the existing workforce by setting challenges for internal L&D

So the paradoxes are there and we’re pushing through as best we can, but we still haven’t named the paradoxical nature of HR work in 2022. We’re therefore showing no explicit intention to strengthen and leverage paradoxes to secure optimised impact in complex times. Maybe next year?

Prediction: Mental health and wellbeing support will become aligned with diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives

Valentina Hynes, wellbeing specialist, speaker and trainer, SVH Inc. CIC

Was I right? Job ads posted in 2022, and announcements by people professionals have indeed proven the alignment of wellbeing support and D&I. A quick search of LinkedIn and other job sites reveal roles like:

  • Inclusion & Wellbeing Officer
  • Diversity & Inclusion, Wellbeing Manager
  • HR & Employee Engagement Manager (Diversity, inclusion and Wellbeing)
  • Diversity, Inclusion & Wellbeing Lead

There is indeed a more proactive approach to wellbeing. However, the challenge lies in not overwhelming people in these roles, ensuring they have adequate and constant learning and networking opportunities, and that they have some autonomy and budget to fulfil their roles effectively. 

Connection will drive performance and wellbeing in 2022

Natasha Wallace, Founder, The Conscious Leadership Company

We were predicting that the loss of connection would be a problem facing teams in 2022 and, in reality, it turned out to be a major issue affecting engagement and performance in teams. What’s interesting is that this ‘disconnect’ hasn’t only been felt by employees but by leaders too. Leadership teams have been affected by being apart, having to pivot in response to changing business and societal conditions, and due to being overworked (and sometimes overwhelmed). It has led to a breakdown in alignment and a lack of collaboration during a time when it’s been more necessary than ever. 

We were also worried about workers feeling depleted and overworked and we’ve seen a significant rise in burnout levels. Glassdoor research carried out between June 2021 and May 2022 found that negative discussion about burnout is on the up, increasing by 48%. The workforce is tired and the relentlessness of the pandemic has taken its toll. It’s going to take at least a couple of years for us to rebuild ourselves and get back to functioning more fully. 

2022 will be the year companies get to know their people again

Jack Mizel, CEO, Pride365

I hoped that as society and businesses emerged from our Covid cocoon, we would be able to integrate once more with workforces coming together and reconnecting.

Many people, however, have retained their flexible working-from-home arrangements. Whilst there are benefits to hybrid working, it is clear that what suffers is our connections to each other. Meaningful relationships within a business can falter and the isolation felt by many can lead to mental health problems.

I believe that in 2023, we should encourage a fuller return to the workplace in order for employers to be able to fully understand the needs of their staff and to continue building an inclusive workplace.


Onto next year…

How will 2023 pan out? Who knows. But we’ll be collating more HR predictions in the new year nonetheless!

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Becky Norman

Managing Editor

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