HR Trends for 2022

31st January 2022

This year, HR-related challenges have become more difficult, with many interconnected internal and external factors causing shifts in power and creating concerning unknowns. It’s harder than ever to stay ahead of HR solutions trends.

We’ve written this article to help prepare you for what we expect the future HR trends of 2022 to be, so that you’re better equipped to keep the morale of your employees high and attract new talent if needed.

Hybrid and Remote Working is The New Norm

Hybrid and remote working had become more common prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 has only accelerated the rate of adoption, as it had to be implemented out of necessity, often with little to no planning.

There were some doubts whether millions of staff across the industries would be able to adapt to remote working. However, for the most part, it has been a success. Employees have proven that they were able to deal with the shift in working environment and in many cases increased their productivity levels. As these stats show, remote working has been a positive change for many:

  • 76% of newly remote/hybrid employees have a positive perception of the workplace
  • 64% of hybrid and 66% of remote employees say their organisation’s culture has a positive impact on their job — compared to just 52% of on-site employees
  • 90% of HR leaders say they will allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time, even though vaccines are now widely available

As some companies now try to entice staff back into the office, there may be a lot of resistance — for many, their quality of life has increased due to not having to work in a shared space. Parents spending more time with their children and a reduction in stressful commutes are just a couple of the long list of benefits.

One of the biggest barriers to returning to the office is people moving outside of expensive cities to get more value for their money. Consequently, these people will find it difficult to commute into the office from further away.

Now that remote working has become more of the norm amongst many companies, those who don’t offer it will likely have difficulty hiring and retaining talent, as those who want remote or hybrid working will simply reject them and go elsewhere.

One way around this is to pay a premium salary to have people in the office full time, particularly if the office is in a highly-priced metropolitan area. This will go some way in offsetting the increased cost of living required to do so.

The Importance of Empathy

While staff were once treated as simply a ‘human resource’, it’s important for employers to shift this mindset and start seeing people as people. Everyone is an individual, with different needs and mindsets, and they need to be treated as such. For example:

  • Tim, Head of Analytics, father to Jessica, partner of Helen, introvert
  • Teresa, Marketing Manager, partner of Lisa, suffers from mild social anxiety

To help with this, some companies have started making subtle changes such as introducing more human-centric job titles, like Chief Happiness Officer, Head of People and Employees Wellness Officer. Job titles like these set the tone of how a company views its most important resource — its people.

Using employee engagement software (EMS) is one way to find out more about who the employees are beyond just their job role. EMS can provide valuable insights into what their life is like outside of work. Identifying which parts of their job they think should be improved/changed will make the workplace (virtual or physical) a more enticing place to be.

Another key part of empathy is involving staff more in the decision-making process. Coupled with insights from platforms such as Trickle, this can help companies demonstrate empathy with their employees.

Salaries Aren’t Enough

Despite high inflation currently being an issue for millions of people, higher salaries aren’t the only thing needed to keep employees happy.

Flexibility, trust and overall positive treatment often outstrip salary in the happiness stakes. This can be partly attributed to remote working lowering costs of living and information about financial literacy being more widely available.

There is now more information about how people can reduce expenditures and make smart, easy-to-execute investments. Apps such as Moneybox, Plum and many more have made it simple for people to easily allocate a portion of their income into investment products that are able to compound and beat inflation.

Health & Wellbeing

The pandemic has accelerated a trend towards people taking better physical and mental care of themselves — the once common workaholic/hustle culture is seeing a great deal of backlash. A prime example of this is in China where the ‘lying flat’ phenomenon (doing the minimum to get by) has taken off.

The awareness of declining health and mortality became more apparent as millions of people around the world suffered from the effects of Covid-19, pushing them to reassess their priorities.

Support for mental health issues is now non-negotiable for employees. Ensuring they are as healthy mentally as they are physically will help make the workplace a happier and more productive place. 

Flexible Working Hours

The standard 9-5 is becoming obsolete — particularly when it comes to remote working. Staff are now generally more in favour of an outcome-based structure.

Outside of necessary meetings, there is a bigger push for people to work hours that suit them. For example, parents might need time in the morning and afternoon to pick up their children from school. However, they may continue working later in the evening once they return and their kids are occupied. As long as the job gets done on time, it shouldn’t matter.

The 4-day Week

It isn’t just the hours in a day that are becoming more flexible. The number of days an employee works is also up for change, with the pandemic showing us how precious life is and helping us focus on what we want most out of it.
People’s leisure time has become more valuable and a 3-day weekend is ideal to help employees fully relax after a busy week and feel fresher for the next.

30 UK companies have started 2022 with a 6-month trial to test whether a 4-day week actually increases productivity. Previous studies have indicated that this should be the case, along with a boost to staff wellbeing.

Importantly, during the trial, employees will be paid the same amount as their usual 5-day routine. Not only will this negate any impact that financial loss would have on the workers, it may also show employers an alternative route to keeping employees on-board.

While inflation is rising and staff are in high demand, increasing salaries to prevent people leaving isn’t always a viable option, so a shorter week with the same pay could entice them to stay, without a monetary hit for either side.

Diversity & Inclusion

We’re happy to say that many industries’ workplaces are becoming more diverse and inclusive. However, there is still a lot of work to do. 

When D&I was first being introduced, it was mainly based around race, gender and sexuality. Now, it’s being expanded to a wider group of people, including those who are neurodivergent and people with some physical limitations.

Staff expect companies to be a comfortable space for everyone. Businesses that aren’t prepared for this may find that they struggle to hire and retain the talent they need to thrive

Another important point on this is for management to be educated about these issues and use insights from employee engagement platforms, such as Trickle, to inform their decision making. 

Digital Transformation is Driven by Remote Working

The phrase ‘digital transformation’ means different things to different people. However, many companies were forced into a version of it during the early phase of the pandemic — some were better prepared than others.

Managing a remote workforce, particularly one that is growing rapidly, can be a difficult task. Shifting the focus to technology-based solutions can aid in this, for example using communications tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace. 

If companies aren’t already digitally prepared for their operations to live in the cloud, they need to be, as it will be impossible to adapt to new working models without it. Even if there is a shift back toward office work, companies can remain agile in knowing they’re prepared to accommodate remote work in some capacity, if needed.

Is Big Brother Watching?

While remote working has been a boon for many, both employees and employers included, it can still be easy to fall into the surveillance trap, fueling a desire to keep an eye on those who aren’t in the office and see what they’re up to.

Even if productivity and wellbeing have increased across the board, it’s natural to want more insight into how staff are using their office hours. But should employers use digital tools to measure performance? 

During the early stages of the pandemic, many news articles reported students feeling aggrieved at cheating-detection programs that had used their webcams to monitor behaviour during exams. While video chats over Teams or Zoom can help workers still feel part of the team, anything that verges on behaviour observation — such as flagging people who haven’t been as active in a virtual meeting — could be unsettling.

As always, good communication with employees is the best way to keep everyone on track. Rather than making them feel like every click is being monitored, regular engagement will help foster a collaborative environment and boost morale.  

Increased Automation

Many repetitive, boring tasks are being automated. There are a plethora of platforms that enable people to do tasks that had to be done manually before. For example, some HR-related tasks can now be done with SaaS tools. 

This gives managers more time to build stronger relationships with their staff, which helps with the aforementioned HR trend of ensuring that a more empathy-focused approach is taken in day-to-day operations. 

This may also ensure that smaller organisations can operate more efficiently with smaller workforces, while larger organisations can reallocate staff to other more productive tasks and projects. 

Vaccine Mandates

While the government is beginning to lift most restrictions across England, big US firms such as Google, Meta and Apple have put policies in place regarding who is able to go into their offices. Many require employees to be vaccinated before entering company premises.

The policies only affect US-based staff at the moment, with the UK’s strong employment rights forcing British employers to tread carefully. 

However, the government has already passed legislation that requires care home workers to be fully vaccinated, unless medically exempt. They have set a date of 1st April for front-line NHS staff to be double jabbed, so as ever with this pandemic, things could change very quickly.

No matter whether a company is mandating vaccines, negative tests or nothing at all, employers have to be mindful of how their policy will affect staff. Some will be adamant their vaccine status should be a personal choice, while others may be fearful of working in an environment with unvaccinated peers. 

Employee collaboration tools such as Trickle can help gauge the temperature on topics like these and help build a consensus on the best way to move forward.

Playing Politics

How employers handle societal and political matters is becoming increasingly important to the workforce. 

If employees are disappointed with a stance, they can become disengaged and may be more likely to look for work elsewhere. Not having a stance can be even worse, as saying nothing can still be seen as a choice.

Whether it’s Brexit, the Black Lives Matter movement or trans rights, the issues of the day will affect staff — either directly or indirectly. When an organisation is trying to build a diverse and inclusive environment, it can sometimes be hard to strike the right note for every employee.

HR teams tend to be the first port of call in these types of situations. Staff collaboration systems such as Trickle, can help them get a steer on how employees feel about different topics. Some companies are even hiring roles like Chief Purpose Officer — a leader who will take on-board all views from within a company and shape its view on trending topics.  

Let’s Get Physical

As well as allowing previously manual-based jobs to be automated, artificial intelligence is also creating many new opportunities for the workforce.
Although younger hires may have more first-hand experience with the latest digital tools, it reflects better on employers to first look to train up those who are displaced by automation – after all, they know the systems inside and out and are already immersed in the company culture.

When new staff are required, many companies are eschewing the traditional hiring route of looking at a candidate’s education history. Degrees are much less important than the actual requirements of the job.

Skills-based hiring looks at an individual’s specific skill-set and whether it matches what is needed in the day-to-day role. Not only does this expand the number of candidates available to the company, but it also helps employers identify existing staff who would best fill a position.

The Parent Trap

Being a working parent is far more than a full-time job — it’s basically two. Not only must they juggle looking after their offspring while trying to perform to their best abilities at work, but they’ve also just had a global pandemic thrown into the mix. So it’s no wonder that since 2020, working parents are more likely to have left their job than non-parents.

From the pressure of working from home while caring for their kids, to then returning to the office and not finding appropriate childcare, parents have started to re-assess their work-life balance.

Employers can help by implementing new measures that can benefit parents — such as subsidised childcare and expanded parental leave — and every member of staff — such as flexible working practices.

The 60 Year Career

Half of 2022’s 5-year-olds will live to 100, meaning they could end up working for 60 years or more to help pay for their retirement.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect someone to work in the same job for all that time — but there will be greater potential for employee loyalty if a company commits to up-skilling. Whether that’s through funding a degree, a language course or job-specific training, up-skilling members of staff can help them move up the career ladder or even change roles within the company.

Putting a training plan in place, and committing to it for every new and existing employee, will help companies stand out from the crowd within today’s competitive marketplace. Tools like Trickle can help employers decide what courses would most benefit their staff, through real-time employee feedback.

For more information about these future HR trends, including the downsides of employee monitoring, keep up to date with our blog throughout 2022. You can find us on LinkedIn and Twitter for industry updates and Trickle-related announcements.

Be sure to visit our blog for more advice on how to make your workplace a more inclusive and efficient place. Most importantly, if you ever need help building a better workplace, we’ve got just the tool for you. When our service users are happy, we are happy too.

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