HR TREND REPORT: What to expect in 2022

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

HR TREND REPORT: What to expect in 2022

Saying that the majority of businesses have experienced a tsunami of changes would be an understatement. From the (still ongoing) pandemic to its economic consequences like the Great Resignation, there are certainly plenty of things employers and HR managers have to adapt to — at least if they want to maintain an efficient, positive working environment.‍

The nature of work is fundamentally changing, and companies will have to adapt their HR as well if they're going to increase their operational efficiencies, address employee retention, and solve a host of other critical issues. ‍

2022 is already shaping up to be a year filled with changes and new HR trends — and we're going to explore them right here, so your business knows what to expect in the near future!‍

Hybrid Work

One thing that everyone realised in 2021 is that, as the pandemic subsides, hybrid work is the new normal. While workers find that there are plenty of different factors to whether they'll thrive in their jobs, 83% of them [1] would still prefer having a hybrid work model as an option. ‍

With that in mind, more than 60% [2] of the world's high-growth companies have begun adopting a friendlier stance to remote work under a "productivity anywhere" mantra. After all, companies are interested in results — but controlling and owning the results is going to be the primary issue when it comes to remote work in the near future. Regardless, office workers across all industries now see this as a crucial job benefit. ‍

This is why employers have already begun searching for hybrid work practices that work — companies like Zapier and GitLab have already set up virtual collaboration policies, as well as those for asynchronous brainstorming and virtual mentoring for their remote workers. It seems that “tools” is the word of the day, where online whiteboards like Mural and Stormboard are used in conjunction with other platforms like Slack to ensure virtual communication is flawless. ‍

However, from the perspective of HR, it's essential for companies to transparently communicate their stance on hybrid work and their practical approach to it. This means defining how they intend on creating an equitable and fair common workplace for every employee regardless of where they're located — and how company leaders will effectively manage people they might never even meet. ‍

Facebook was an excellent example [3] of a mishandled remote work policy in 2021 when massive outages were caused by their in-office skeleton crew being locked out of the company's critical systems by mistake. As more companies go by the hybrid work route, they will start seeing similar technical setbacks — protocol, processes, or people not being prepared for difficult situations. With that in mind, setting up HR policies that encourage quick reporting of any technical or interpersonal issue will become even more important in a remote work environment. ‍

Employee Wellbeing ‍

The pandemic has shown us that the employee experience is just as important as the customer experience, particularly in the wake of the Great Resignation, which has shone a light on just how many people were essentially dissatisfied and unhappy with their jobs. ‍

In 2022 and beyond, providing a better employee experience will be essential to not only attracting top talent but also retaining the professionals already in your ranks. Employee wellbeing has ceased being a trinket to be dangled in front of people as a bonus — employees now expect their employers to support them in different aspects of their work and personal lives, including how to better manage employee stress.

Whether this includes a free yoga session, paid gym memberships, mental health services, flexible work schedules, offering assistance to employees experiencing elevated levels of stress, or opportunities for up-skilling and professional advancement, one thing is clear — people are valuing their personal wellbeing and work-life balance far more than they did before. As a result, career, social, financial, and emotional wellness have all become intertwined. ‍

And sure, raising wages and offering competitive compensation remains one of the crucial ways to improve employee retention and attract potential workers. However, research clearly shows that more than 60% of employees [4] believe well-being benefits are a vital factor for them when they're choosing a new job. This is particularly true for Gen Z and younger millennial candidates, who are far more individualistic and less ready to compromise on personal wellness. ‍

It's also interesting to note that more than 80% of surveyed employees [5] have expressed a desire for guidance and support from their employers when it comes to their personal finances. Apart from financial and retirement education, they also want access to financial advisors, financial planning, and digital budgeting. ‍

An A.I. Future

‍ In the past couple of years, the use of RPA (robotic process automation) and A.I. (artificial intelligence) for HR functions has increased exponentially. In general, the capabilities of A.I. tech are constantly increasing, and machine learning is finding new and exciting applications practically every day. ‍

Considering the impending digital transformation of all businesses, it's no wonder that the world of HR is becoming more and more infused with A.I. tech as well. The minimal necessary investment coupled with a tangible ROI is already making rudimentary A.I. tech the next best innovation for any HR department. ‍

Workforce analytics, onboarding, talent acquisition, employee support — all those areas can be improved upon greatly by leveraging AI. There are even vendors that offer pre-trained AI for improving the employee experience. Global companies can utilise these technologies to quickly scale their HR support as well as various other support domains like IT. ‍

A McKinsey study [6] has already shown that A.I. is set to drastically change how we do business as a whole, regardless of what industry we're talking about — already by 2030, A.I. could potentially result in an increased economic output of about $13 trillion. With all of this in mind, it should be noted that A.I. in HR is still only gathering steam — considering less than 20% of organisations [7] are currently using A.I.-based processes in HR as of now, there's still plenty of room for growth. Still, given A.I.'s growing capabilities, clear business case, and rapidly expanding applications — it's definitely here to stay.

Employee Experience

‍ In the past couple of years, employee experience has definitely risen to the top of HR leaders' and CIOs priorities. Even in 2019, before the pandemic and the Great Resignation, improving the employee experience was listed in the top three initiatives [8] for surveyed human resource leaders.

‍ Considering this is such a vital objective, just what is the "employee experience"? Today, this term encompasses pretty much everything the average employee can feel, undergo, and encounter while working for your organisation. From the first moment they submit their application to their exit interview, their experience as your company alumni matters a great deal.

‍The way a company handles every milestone on its worker's journey is immensely indicative of the company culture — and it can (both positively and negatively) impact your employee engagement, employee performance, and ultimately employee retention.

‍Business leaders, HR leaders and managers can improve their company's employee experience by better understanding what employees experience as they go through their career milestones within the company.

‍ When people first start working for an organisation, they come in with certain expectations about what the experience of working there will be like. That's why companies invest a lot in making a great first impression, whether it's through word-of-mouth or job ads. However, the stuff that happens on days three, four, and beyond matters just as much.

‍ If employee expectations aren't met to a reasonable degree, the relationship between the company and the employee starts deteriorating. And if you want to keep your best people, that's unacceptable. There are plenty of organisations where employee retention challenges are caused by a lack of trust and understanding.

‍ Companies that want to properly address these issues have to focus on specific aspects of the employee experience. Bear in mind that new employees make judgments based on immediate impressions pretty quickly — so revamping the onboarding process is a great place to start.

‍Implementing Diversity In Practice

Over the past few years, societal issues have become increasingly important for corporate branding as well. CEOs and other executives have started publicly pledging to a more practical commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity. However, in most cases, it's up to HR professionals to make good on such promises in practice.

‍ Naturally, the average HR manager doesn't have the power to eliminate systemic racism. Still, HR professionals are the people who end up shaping a company's work environment the most — and, as a consequence, the employee experience.

‍ With that in mind, it's crucial to eliminate the possibility of bias in hiring practices — not only is gender, racial, and other bias obviously unfair and morally wrong, but it's also very bad PR for the company.

‍ And even if all of the company's HR managers have the best intentions, it's important to remember that bias isn't always intentional. In fact, unconscious bias is even more dangerous because it's not immediately visible — in the form of our tendency to process data based on unintentional feelings and associations.

‍ In 2022 and beyond, companies will likely start having a more focused look at how unconscious and intentional biases affect the company's culture, employee retention rates, and progress towards a more inclusive and productive workforce — especially when those biases come from leaders and managers.

‍ Creating a workforce that offers varied life experiences and perspectives also comes with benefits [9] beyond a moral high ground and great PR. Companies with more varied teams have a better chance of sparking innovation, coming up with more interesting solutions, and generally being ahead of the curve.

‍ Also, more forward-thinking companies have started focusing on the notion of employee equity — in the sense of eliminating decision points that frequently lead to inequity in pay and development opportunities. As companies start getting more calls for higher levels of transparency, harassment reporting, board representation, and compensation reporting, long-term equity practices will become even more important.

‍ A Renewed Focus On Purpose

‍ One of the longest-running trends of the past decade has been a more personalised approach to company branding. As brands started using social media as a more personal platform for advertising, consumers have turned towards brands that are ready to use these platforms to voice their stances on contemporary societal issues.

‍ A silent status quo is no longer viable for most consumer-facing companies — going down the path of least resistance quickly leads to public backlash, as consumers demand that their favourite brands stand for something and champion the right causes.

‍ While this trend has been around for more than a decade, it has recently evolved beyond just consumers. As younger millennials enter the workforce in larger and larger numbers, they bring these demands for a more socially-conscious company into their workplace.

‍ Employees have recognised that money is what actually drives change in practice. And that's why they're voting with their wallets [10] as consumers and carefully choosing what companies they're willing to work for as employees.

‍ This is particularly true for top talent — in other words, people that have a wide range of choices when it comes to employment. The last thing you want is for your business to be boycotted because it doesn't align with the right generational values — especially with the next generation of leaders [11] being around the corner.

‍ With all of this in mind, companies must realise that defining their purpose and values is more than a mere marketing strategy [12]. Today's employees and consumers are smart and tech-savvy — even spending millions on engagement through offers, online branding, social media, and email blasts won't be enough if the company doesn't show what they stand for in practice.

‍A Data-driven Approach

‍Regardless of whether we're talking about budget allocations, employee surveys, or a wholly different HR function — in 2022 and beyond, data will become a more important factor when it comes to decision-making.

‍ HR work needs to become more strategic — and that means adopting the data-heavy approach already utilised by other business functions. When we look at CRM, supply chain, finance, marketing, and IT, we find one thing in common — data-driven analytics power decision-making that becomes a key success driver.

‍ An all-digital, interconnected HR department allows for continuous improvement measures. And while a majority of HR functions haven't shifted to this approach yet, things are slowly changing. Benchmark companies like Netflix and Google have already demonstrated the benefits of a data-driven HR model.

‍ In the near future, senior HR executives will have to start selling their corporate higher-ups on the benefits and long-term value of making an investment in a tech-driven, data-heavy HR approach.

‍ While data-driven HR can help with pretty much all strategic business goals, there's one that stands out by its effectiveness: increased workforce productivity.

‍ By quantifying the output of every mission-critical job, HR can use analytics to easily identify the prime motivators and de-motivators for individual employees and entire sectors — management actions, rewards, different development approaches, etc. The same goes for finding better quality hires, which is one of the prime roles of HR in any company.

Stay up to date with the latest trends in HR and foster a workplace where employees feel engaged with Qualee. Try our Starter Plan today!


[1] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/consulting/future-work
[2] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/consulting/future-work
[3] https://techhq.com/2021/10/facebooks-outage-highlights-the-big-problem-with-the-remote-work-policy/
[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2021/12/16/the-future-of-work-offering-employee-well-being-benefits-can-stem-the-great-resignation/
[5] https://www.brightplan.com/blog/4-predictions-for-employee-wellness-trends-in-2022
[6] https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured Insights/Artificial Intelligence/Notes from the frontier Modeling the impact of AI on the world economy/MGI-Notes-from-the-AI-frontier-Modeling-the-impact-of-AI-on-the-world-economy-September-2018
[7] https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/ai-shows-value-and-gains-traction-in-hr/
[8] https://www.gartner.com/en/confirmation/human-resources/trends/2019-hr-priorities
[9] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/108648220000500505
[10] https://sproutsocial.com/insights/data/championing-change-in-the-age-of-social-media/
[11] https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2020/09/10/hiring-gen-z/#1967bd6c2041
[12] https://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2019/09/04/bulletproof-backpacks-and-plastic-rain-why-brands-are-acting-on-social-issues/#1b9f1fdd77e9

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