Throughout 2021, managers and employees adapted to changing predictions, updated regulations, and restrictions, resulting in a much more challenging year than anyone could have anticipated. The ‘Great Resignation” took place and the number of people in the workforce declined swiftly. Employees quickly developed new ways to perform their roles efficiently, resulting in new expectations from their employers. Now, as businesses look to rebuild their workforce and redefine the workplace, leaders should prioritize a comprehensive understanding and continuing conversation around workplace trends for 2022.
Although workplace trends may vary by industry, businesses should closely monitor these emerging trends and the potential impacts in the coming year:
Hybrid and Remote Work are Here to Stay
In the early months of the pandemic, most managers and executives in the workforce were planning on a brief pause and a quick return to normal. Many can recall the moment they received notice to work remotely, where possible, expecting to return to their cubes and offices in two weeks with their colleagues. However, as the pandemic developed and social distancing protocols were extended, leadership realized more innovative approaches were required in order to adapt to a remote workforce.
Throughout the pandemic and continuing today, many business leaders are working diligently to develop a successful return to work strategy. The strategy must balance the needs of the organization with the developing expectations of their workforce after working remotely since 2020. Reviewing the research, most employees would prefer a flexible working model after the pandemic ends. As 2022 approaches, business leaders must recognize that this model is here to stay. In addition to providing employees with more freedom to choose where they want to work, many companies are also offering more flexible hours. In order to retain existing employees and attract new talent, work flexibility — both location and hours — should be prioritized.
Implementing More Automation
Over the years, many businesses have explored emerging technologies, such as cloud storage, predictive analytics, and chatbots. When the pandemic disrupted the traditional workforce, businesses understood the immediate need to accelerate their commitment to technology.
In 2022, the shift to automation and adoption of new technologies will continue to gain momentum. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, new technologies will process information and data with machine learning and predictive analytics, complete administrative duties, and handle some aspects of manual labor. Employees’ roles may shift to work collaboratively with these technologies — focusing primarily on strategy, management, reasoning, and communication.
Now is the time to develop your business acumen and technology skills. Businesses will expect the workforce to effectively adapt, utilize, and collaborate with automation tools in the future.
Greater Focus on Employee Retention
In light of the pandemic’s workforce reduction and the “Great Resignation,” recruiting and retaining top talent continues to hold its place as a primary concern for many organizations. Employees are reevaluating not only their roles, but also their employers with all that has changed in the last two years.
In 2022, the demand for skilled and experienced workers will continue to rise. To retain employees in a competitive climate, facilitate conversations with leadership to accommodate the expectations on the future of work. . Showcase your appreciation for their contributions and provide the expected benefits of:
- Flexibility in the workplace
- Accountability and transparency
- Ability to listen to feedback and adapt accordingly
Employers must prioritize employee retention in order to stay ahead. By being aware of employee experiences within your workplace and committing to supporting your employees with the resources they need, you will retain the best professionals in your industry at your organization.
Leveraging Data for Almost Everything
The key to thriving in 2022 will rest solely on your ability to collect data and utilize analytics efficiently and effectively to improve your organization. It’s not enough to simply collect data — how you use the data will set your organization apart from others. In 2022, businesses should prioritize collecting, analyzing, and sharing data on employee experiences for continuous improvement. Additionally, human resources professionals need to monitor outside data regarding salaries, employee attendance, leave time, and more. By understanding the current climate and monitoring the metrics, you can quickly adjust the experience at your workplace to attract and retain top talent.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
For far too long, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was not valued in the workforce the way that it should be. Today, companies are realizing that DEI is critical — not only to do its part to solve an ongoing societal challenge, but also to remain competitive in the marketplace with unique perspectives, experiences, and solutions. A diverse team with people of all genders, sexualities, nationalities, races, and religions is better equipped to produce relevant products and in-demand services that consumers crave. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just a trend for 2022 — it’s a priority for businesses to thrive in the years to come.
Upskilling Your Workforce
Gone are the days where organizations thought pizza parties and happy hours were a “hot benefit” to retain employees. Employees want to feel valued and respected — they want to work for organizations that are willing to invest in them. As part of your employee retention strategy, consider providing opportunities to upskill your workforce. Give your employees opportunities through professional development training to build soft and technical skills to grow in their roles and in their career trajectory. For example, at Johnson & Wales University, we offer certificate programs to provide your employees with insight, information, knowledge, and skills on different topics. We offer a variety of certificates, including Foundational Operations & Supply Chain Management, Business Communication, and more.
Migration to the Cloud
In the last two years, cloud-based technology has become increasingly relevant and more important than ever before. As remote and hybrid work are poised to be a permanent fixture in the workplace, now is the time to migrate to the cloud. Employees should be able to access relevant tools and documents not only from their remote workspaces but also from their mobile devices. This will allow your workforce to be productive and effective in a way that works for their own well-being.
End of Trendy Perks
Prior to the pandemic, managers and supervisors were focused on making their offices a comfortable, welcoming, and fun place to be. Trendy perks such as endless snack tables, recreational spaces, fitness centers, and birthday presents were found in offices of all sizes and across all industries. Now, however, employees know that the best way to prioritize their own mental health is to work in a hybrid or remote environment, so many of these perks are superfluous. Instead of focusing on creating a casual workspace with plenty of amenities, provide your employees with the benefits that they actually want in 2022, which include:
- Paid parental leave
- Increase in holiday time
- Employee discounts
- Paid time off for health care appointments, including COVID vaccinations
Commitment to Employee Wellness and Mental Health
The pandemic was challenging for many reasons. As professionals and as human beings, the toll on our collective mental health may continue to linger, well past when we resume a “normal” life. As you look toward 2022 and life beyond the pandemic, employee wellbeing and mental health must continue to remain a top priority. Focus on developing a culture and environment in which employees feel that their mental health and wellbeing is valued. You also should provide access to resources, such as counselors, therapists, and other wellness initiatives that can help employees prioritize their own mental health. Encouraging a balanced lifestyle and creating a positive company culture will go a long way toward attracting and retaining top talent in the coming year.
If you’re a leader in the workplace or aspire to be one, take your career to the next level by earning your MBA in Organizational Leadership from JWU. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].