Another weird year of work almost in the books. What kind of workplace trends can we anticipate in 2022?
Things will be different, that’s for sure. Many trends will be carved out of the changes the pandemic forced us all to make.
Others will reflect both employers’ and employees’ desire to get back to normal – even if it’s a new normal.
Here are the top six workplace trends HR pros will want to prepare for as we turn the calendar year.
High turnover rates continue
Nearly 55% of HR leaders say turnover is higher than it was before the pandemic – and they don’t expect that will change anytime soon, according to MindEdge’s second annual HR in the Age of Workplace Uncertainty survey.
What’s worse, most leaders also say hiring remotely and onboarding is more difficult than in the office. (On the upside, most leaders in the MindEdge’s survey agree remote interviewing is just as effective as in-person interviewing.)
So for now, HR leaders will want to accept that some degree of recruiting, interviewing, hiring and onboarding will remain remote. To make it better, consider putting a bigger emphasis on the remote, online interviews, considering those still seem effective.
You might let team members sit in on later-stage virtual interviews. If you can’t do that, invite them to submit questions for all candidate interviews.
HR’s hiring woes won’t likely ease up in 2022. Almost 50% of small businesses reported having job openings they can’t fill, according to research from the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
The need to hire, and the difficulty in finding new hires, will likely increase for most HR professionals. So you’ll want to explore new places to recruit, different populations to pursue and a variety of avenues to post jobs.
One growing recruiting trend is a focus on finding and hiring recent military veterans.
“The hiring and reskilling of veterans can be an extremely viable way to address the skilled talent shortage,” said Sarah Peiker, CEO of Orion Talent. “They also have a strong sensibility about the dynamics between quality, quantity, maintenance, safety, procedural compliance and the people they work with or supervise.”
You can partner with organizations throughout the United States to find, recruit and even train recent military veterans.
Another emerging group to consider: Candidates with criminal records.
“Workplace stigmas and outdated hiring processes exclude the 77 million formerly incarcerated Americans from even getting considered for positions,” said Linda Shaffer, Chief People and Operations Officer at Checkr.
Employers who seek and hire workers with conviction histories often improve diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
“For organizations to reach this needed level of full inclusivity, they must integrate fair chance hiring,” Shaffer said.
Uncertainty, contention continues
This could be the least surprising of 2022 workplace trends: Two years after it started, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect workplaces in ways beyond physical well-being.
Most companies and their leaders will need to address uncertainty and possible contention prompted by federal government COVID-19 vaccination mandates on employers – and its almost immediate hold.
In fact, employees in a Qualtrics survey said discussions about vaccinations in the workplace have decreased trust among colleagues and between management and employees. It’s also caused more division between groups and cliques.
HR leaders and front-line managers may need to focus on softer skills – such as teambuilding and conflict resolution – in 2022. As more employees come back to work in office spaces, you may want to post etiquette reminders. And managers may want to review collegiality and team performance expectations.
Remote work leaves on-site issues
Facebook gave a headline-worthy warning of the potential problems with some remote work arrangements. The tech giant experienced a huge outage when 75% of its employees were working offsite. Many of the in-office skeleton crew was locked out of critical systems and they all scrambled to get things up and running again.
As more companies adopt hybrid or remote work experiences, they face similar setbacks, such as not having the people, processes or protocol ready to react to difficult situations.
It’ll be more important than ever to get IT and remote workers aligned.
“With up to 80% of employee IT issues typically going unreported, support teams might not become aware of some problems until they’ve escalated to full-blown crises,” said Marc Moesse, SVP Product at Lakeside. “By aligning IT with hybrid workforces, companies can futureproof themselves. They’ll want to keep devices, networks, applications, and security optimized, healthy, and prepared for anything – no matter where they are.”
Engagement issues remain
Most experts agree remote work is here to stay among the 2022 workplace trends. And most HR leaders and front-line managers agree it presents a new set of issues for keeping employees engaged.
Employees may continue to feel isolated. They’ll likely find collaboration less effective as when they work together on-site. And without daily interaction with the boss, they might not get the feedback they need.
“It’s vital for managers to shift from thinking of employee appreciation as taking time out of their day. Instead view it as a necessary aspect of good leadership,” said Ken Schnee, General Manager of Sterling’s Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality Group. “Employee appreciation can take many forms, including compensation, team recognition, learning and development opportunities. They’re the foundation of a strong workplace culture.”
And they can help improve engagement whether employees are on-site, remote or hybrid.
Safety, health concerns continue
Regardless of where employees work in 2022, health and safety will remain atop their priorities. Companies will want to continue to stress their focus on keeping employees well.
While the federal vaccination mandates are up in the air, “Managers can help keep their workers healthy and safe by mandating COVID-19 testing and vaccination tracking,” Schnee suggested.
In addition, you probably want to continue on-site health and safety protocols you already have in place. Work to accommodate employees who might still feel more comfortable avoiding the office.
Well-being remains center stage
Similarly, and on a more holistic view, employee mental well-being will likely continue to be a priority. Many employees – and their managers – still struggle to find a healthy balance between work and life in a pandemic.
“Mental wellness programs are especially important now because the workforce is really struggling. Nearly half of the workforce suffers from some type of mental health issue,” said Laura Sage, CEO of Chill Anywhere. “The consequences of a team that is mentally unhealthy include poor culture, high turnover, and high absenteeism.”
So you might want or need to increase access to mental well-being benefits in the new year. One of the growing 2022 workplace trends: Give employees anytime access to tools they can use to stay ahead of stress. For instance, you might offer subscriptions to meditation apps, memberships to yoga centers, or passes to well-being events or webinars.