This blog is the second in a two-part series on HR & Labor Trends. Read the first blog which focuses on top labor trends for 2022.
Human Resources (HR) professionals may feel that the last year has been especially tough. In fact, a recent survey showed that 70% of HR professionals said 2021 has been the most challenging one of their careers. As if the flurry of pandemic-related workplace changes and new policies wasn’t enough, many HR professionals may have contended with yet more upheaval when some remote workers came back to the office this year and some stayed remote. An additional element that may have added another level of stress is that a variety of industries may have noticed an increase in employee turnover. With all that being said, it’s no wonder many HR professionals can be prone to reaching burnout.
Heading into 2022, the hope is that the employment landscape will stabilize, allowing HR professionals to finally catch their breath. However, certain things may not return to what it was. The remote work trend, for example, appears to be permanent. One recent Gartner survey found that 48% of employees will continue to work remotely at least part of the time. This number varies depending on who you ask and could go up as more companies get comfortable with remote work policies and practices.
As you look ahead, here are the biggest HR trends in 2022 so you can plan for them effectively and gain back a level of confidence in your day-to-day responsibilities.
HR Trends to Watch in 2022
It appears that many companies are facing similar circumstances right now when it comes to 2022’s employment projections. To respond to whatever comes your way in the changing world of work, it’s important to understand how HR can play a pivotal role in 2022:
Rehiring — or hiring more — contractors. When the pandemic started, many companies let go of their independent contractors as budgets were cut. Now, companies are reversing that decision, especially as employee retention turns into a serious problem for some. Hiring contractors and implementing other non-standard work models can be a cost-effective way to help fill existing workforce gaps and “get the job done” in more flexible and creative ways.
Focusing on cross-functional skills. The pandemic shined a light on a stark reality: It wasn’t just critical roles that were needed to keep everyday operations going, it was also critical workflows. Going forward, instead of focusing solely on roles when making hiring decisions, you may want to put extra emphasis on building skills of all types across the workforce, so that many employees — regardless of role — can pivot and perform cross-functional tasks if called upon. 60% of HR professionals are already recognizing skills-building as a top priority for 2022.
Offering remote work options to attract talent. With remote work now firmly entrenched in our employment culture, many job candidates expect the option of working remotely — at least part of the time — when considering a job offer. To stay competitive and attract quality talent, you may need to expand the remote work opportunities you already have, or introduce the option of remote work if you haven’t already done so.
Nurturing employee well-being. It’s not just about providing health insurance anymore. Employees are increasingly looking to their employers to provide for all aspects of their well-being, including physical, mental, and financial. Offering progressive benefits that cover mental health, subsidize child and elder care, and help with financial education and planning are relevant to the needs of today’s employees and can help ensure you’re getting the best out of your workforce.
Re-evaluating the employee-employer relationship. Employees endured a lot during the pandemic, and as a result, there are continued discussions about workplace safety, flexibility, and transparency. Employers are recognizing what workers really need, the kinds of companies that are desirable to work for, and the larger role that work plays in society. In a recent survey, 86% of executives said they think employees will gain greater independence and influence relative to executives. As an HR professional, you play a key role in navigating this new dynamic by helping leadership achieve its goals while also ensuring employees’ needs are being met.
What You Can Do Now
Although not every trend may apply to your specific situation or company, there are still some general ideas and actions you can take to approach 2022 with foresight and confidence:
Help employees handle change. Change was a constant the past two years, and in some ways, change will always be a part of any workplace. But change fatigue is also a real thing. One way to make change easier is to create a high level of trust between HR, employees, managers, and leaders. When people trust, care for and work well with each other, teams can absorb and navigate change with greater success — nearly two times more than teams that don’t, according to Gartner.
Increase support to managers. With workers distributed all over the place — in the office, at home, and even in different states and regions — managers have far less visibility into what employees are doing and accomplishing. Measuring performance, exhibiting empathy, and understanding the context and specifics of each direct report’s day-to-day are more challenging now, but imperative for managers to do well. Supporting managers and helping to instill new management practices that reflect today’s work environment can positively impact many individuals' chances for success, no matter where they’re located.
Adopt a workforce planning system. An automated system that allows you to gather and access real-time data about your workforce helps you identify skills and role gaps, know how to staff and when, implement employee training and development when needed, and engage with employees more often and with greater success. Workforce planning isn’t just about the daily nuts and bolts of staffing. It also gives you the tools to be strategic by identifying future staffing needs, helping you prepare effectively for them, and keeping HR aligned with the overarching business goals.
When In Doubt, Get Guidance
HR professionals need support navigating change too. Having the right tools and systems in place can go a long way toward easing the HR administration and management burdens that have become increasingly heavy this past year. By the same token, consulting with HR experts with support on legal and regulatory matters, can help uncover key business insights, and increase operational efficiency. This can make 2022 feel less daunting and your job more productive and rewarding.
The end of the year can be challenging. SyncHR is here to support you with efficient, accurate, and cost-effective workforce management solutions. To learn more about SyncHR, click here.
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