Many of us expected the world to return to normality at the start of 2021. Vaccines were beginning to be distributed, and many executives believed it would only be a matter of months before we could all return to work.
However, 2021 proved to be more unpredictable than planned, introducing new Covid variations, a tremendous war for talent, all-time high leave rates, and the greatest inflation levels in a generation.
In this year, the level of volatility will only rise. New varieties will continue to appear, potentially causing workplaces to go remote once more. Hybrid employment will increase inconsistency regarding where, when, and how different workers work. As annual compensation increases lag behind inflation, many employees may face real wage cutbacks. These realities will be prioritised over longer-term technology upheaval, ongoing DE&I journeys, and political disruption and unpredictability.
The following are ten fundamental trends that will shape workplace volatility in 2022:
1. Progression of the Great Resignation
Workers are resigning in unprecedented numbers, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. For example, in the United States, 4.2 million people will abandon their jobs in October 2021, close to the previous month’s record high. As a result, many teams and organisations have made employee retention a primary goal. The “Great Resignation,” colloquially known, is anticipated to last until 2022.
As stated in this BBC report, the Great Resignation is frequently misunderstood. According to some experts, the causes behind this trend are multifaceted (and not tied solely to the pandemic). Furthermore, several media publications highlight surveys indicating that a substantial percentage of workers desire to change occupations. However, the aggregate number of workers quitting remains a modest percentage of the workforce. (People wish to change professions for various reasons, including inadequate leadership at their current workplace, a lack of remote work options, and career path visibility.)
Data reveal that many unemployed persons are also not rushing to fill unfilled positions. According to some economists, we face a “Great Hesitation” rather than a “Great Resignation” in returning to employment.
2. Work from Home and Hybrid Work
We couldn’t discuss rising workplace trends in 2022 without including remote and hybrid employment, mostly the result of the epidemic. Millions of workers around the world have been affected by this phenomenon. Here are a few significant data points to think about:
- According to a FlexJobs poll of over 4,600 job candidates performed in summer 2021, 58% desire a fully remote role post-pandemic, while 39% choose a hybrid setup.
- According to PwC’s 2021 Health and Well-Being Touchstone Survey, 91% of businesses added “flexible work arrangements” to employee perks due to COVID-19.
- According to a 2021 WeWork survey (conducted in collaboration with independent research firm Workplace Intelligence), 79% of C-suite executives aim to allow employees to split their time between remote work and in-office work if the position allows it.
3. Emphasis on Employee Well-Being
Companies are increasingly concentrating on work-life balance and employee mental health, which will continue until 2022, especially as the epidemic causes more stress and burnout. Prioritising employee well-being can also imply giving additional employee benefits, increased flexibility, sign-on bonuses, and an overall happy workplace experience.
During the pandemic, firms emphasised the “whole employee” to recruit and retain talent. According to the PwC survey:
Because of the pandemic, 53% of firms introduced mental health programmes to their employee benefits.
44% of the firms polled indicated they enhanced or added paid time off and wellness programmes for their employees.
Companies are increasingly focused on work-life balance and employee mental health, and this trend will continue beyond 2022.
4. Organisational Talent Shortages and Reskilling
Many sectors’ skill requirements are changing. In addition, over 7 in 10 organisations worldwide reported skills shortages and hiring issues in 2021, a 15-year high.
Companies in Europe, in particular, are having difficulty filling available positions. As a result, retraining existing staff to fill internal positions has become one alternative for organisations. According to a World Economic Forum research, by 2024, over 40% of the global workforce will require up to six months of reskilling.
5. Emphasis on Skills Over Jobs
In his paper “HR Predictions for 2022”, global research analyst Josh Bersin writes that firms saw employee training as vital but not necessarily as a competitive advantage in the past. However, this is rapidly changing as a result of digitalisation and automation.
Leaders understand that concentrating on employee upskilling and career pathing can help their firms solve skills shortages. This shows employing new techniques to identify distinct skill sets instead of more typical job grading methods. In addition, skills development may assist firms in meeting their most pressing business needs, and skills can be quantified using what is known as “skill data.”
6. Placement of Emphasis on Soft Skills
Before the epidemic, soft skills, often known as “power skills,” were essential. However, the necessity to form relationships digitally and operate with less scrutiny has increased the importance of soft skills in the workplace.
Indeed, several of the top talents indicated as upskilling needs within their teams or organisations in our 2021 Global Career Impact Survey were soft skills. Management and leadership (34%) were among them, as were critical thinking (24%), creativity (24%), and problem-solving (24%). Bersin expects in his analysis that firms’ emphasis on these abilities will expand. Companies will rethink their leadership models, and the qualities leaders require to succeed in their professions.
7. Increased Efforts in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
According to the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, there will be a stronger emphasis on DEI in 2022, with the vast majority of U.S. workers (almost 80 percent) already indicating they want to work for organisations that prioritise DEI. At the same time, PwC discovered in its 2021 poll that diversity and inclusion are the most important areas for organisations to focus on to retain and attract talent.
8. Greater Use of AI and Automation
These were both highlighted as top upskilling needs across teams and organisations in our 2021 Global Career Impact Survey—and with a good cause. Innumerable ways, artificial intelligence and automation have revolutionised the workplace. They’ve streamlined and accelerated internal processes while maintaining consistency and enhancing employee engagement. (Learn more about the advantages and major drawbacks of workplace automation.)
Due to these workplace developments, individuals’ abilities to create effective business outcomes for their firms are evolving. For example, ascertain jobs are being replaced by AI, robotics, and other emerging technologies; reskilling internal staff rather than hiring new personnel has become a cost-effective and efficient alternative.
9. HR Technology and Data-Driven Transformation
By 2022, more firms will have transformed their human resources departments by leveraging data analytics, indirect sourcing and talent acquisition. HR professionals can also use data to determine why employees leave their companies and reduce turnover. People analytics, or insights drawn from data related to worker talent, are assisting companies in uncovering critical information about organisational performance and individual employee requirements.
The Society for Human Resource Management says that firms turn to cloud computing, collaborative tools, and digitisation to improve HR operations and employee experience.
10. A Focus on Ongoing Employee Development
As more leaders pursue workplace upskilling and reskilling, they hope to instil a growth attitude in their organisation’s culture. A growth mindset is based on the concept that you can learn and progress. This is in contrast to a fixed mindset, which assumes that some characteristics of an individual (such as talent or intelligence) are innate.
Microsoft and Unilever are two firms that have prioritised organisational-wide growth philosophies. Overall, fostering a learning culture within firms will become even more critical in 2022 for eliminating skill gaps.
As we face new future-of-work trends in 2022, we can only speculate about the changes that automation and digitalisation may bring in the future. However, it is apparent that the epidemic has accelerated workforce transition, and companies must now keep up with skill development more than ever before.
As new workplace trends arise, upskill and reskill your workers to match the demands of today’s organisations. Also, find out how you can solve skill shortages within your team or business and become a better person every day.