With 2022 well underway, there’s no doubt about it–the last two years have changed a lot about how many organizations do business. The COVID-19 pandemic combined with several major social and political issues continues to influence workplace trends.
So what can businesses, leaders, human resources professionals, and employees expect in the coming months? And how can employers stay ahead of the curve?
While we’ve encountered many challenges, we have also learned a great deal about conducting business with creativity, empathy, and inclusiveness. This theme continues. Check out the top six work trends and how you can prepare for and act on them.
The Great Resignation & Talent Troubles
Everyone has heard about this workplace trend by now: The Great Resignation. There are 11 million unfilled jobs in the U.S., and chances are, some of those are with your business. One reason is the jobs don’t match the candidates and their skills.
Korn Ferry surveyed nearly 700 professionals, and almost a third said they were thinking of leaving their job without having another one lined up. People know their worth!
Remote hiring and onboarding also present challenges. The evolving landscape and talent shortage means employers need to be proactive about hiring and retaining top talent.
What you can do:
- Keep it remote: The interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes can remain virtual, increasing your talent pool.
- Bring in the team: Have team members join managers in later-stage virtual interviews or invite them to submit questions for all new candidates. This will help ensure the candidate is a good fit for the team.
- Find new recruiting outlets: Start with recent military veterans. You can partner with organizations throughout the country to find, recruit, and even train recent vets. Also, consider candidates with criminal records; many are not even considered, but hiring employees with conviction histories helps improve diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
- Give a good first impression: Create a positive, welcoming recruiting and interviewing experience for all candidates. Just as they’re selling their skills to you, you need to sell your company to them!
- Ramp up incentives: Compensation, long-term incentives and benefits, sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses–there are many ways to show employees your appreciation regularly.
- Develop existing talent: Give current employees opportunities to advance and move within the company. This can be a great way to fill niche positions.
- Know your employees: Understand their career goals, what else they’re looking for in a job, and what values they’re looking for in an employer.
- Provide flexibility: Allow current employees to work virtually and have flexible schedules when possible. Today’s talent puts great emphasis on work-life balance.
- Focus on sustainability: Many candidates value sustainable, responsible practices and won’t work with organizations that do not align with their beliefs and values. Evaluate what your company currently does to give back and help others, and ensure you share that information with the world.
Ongoing Uncertainty & Contention
Many workplace trends result from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, leaving us with countless questions and points of contention. The Federal vaccine mandate may have been blocked, but the discussion on vaccinations, masking, and related issues will continue. This can cause conflict and stress between colleagues and between leadership and employees.
Then there are the ongoing social and political discussions that can so easily divide people and disrupt productivity. How can leaders and HR teams prepare and maintain a peaceful, respectful workplace?
What you can do:
To focus on creating a positive workplace culture that thrives on transparency and open communication, you can:
- Develop soft skills, like team building and conflict resolution
- Post etiquette reminders
- Host regular trainings
- Review policies on conduct and team performance
Team building activities, which allow colleagues to connect and communicate, should occur regularly. When people get to know and respect each other, they’ll be more likely to have constructive conversations–even if they disagree on certain issues.
Remote Work Risks & Issues
You likely heard of and were in some way affected by Facebook’s outage in early October 2021. The debacle was a prime example of the risks and issues companies can encounter when most of their team is offsite. Even onsite employees were locked out of critical systems. Engineers working offsite had to rush to Facebook’s data centers to reset the servers physically. Logistical challenges and pandemic restrictions complicated things further.
Oof. That may be one the tech giant never lives down.
Of course, your business also relies on technology, which leaves you open to potential disruptions if you are not prepared.
What you can do:
As the workforce trends more remote, IT teams must understand all telecommuters’ needs and potential risks. All hardware, software, networks, and security should be optimized and prepared for any scenario.
Next, ensure teams know what and how to report to IT when issues arise. This will help prevent a problem from reaching a crisis level.
Employee Engagement Challenges
Working from home can leave employees feeling isolated. It can be difficult for remote workers to form meaningful relationships with their managers and team members, meaning collaboration may suffer. Many telecommuters have also reported feeling like they’re not getting enough feedback from their manager.
This is another workplace trend where employers must establish a positive culture, whether employees are remote, onsite, or hybrid.
What you can do:
Communicating and showing your appreciation is more important than ever for virtual teams. Managers can offer this through:
- Regular check-ins: Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with team members where they can share project updates, voice concerns, or ask questions.
- Compensation: Does your company have a performance review process in place? Bonus programs? How can employees work toward goals and raises?
- Team recognition: Shout out certain employees and teams for exceptional work. Did they finish a big project? Close a major deal? Put them in the spotlight!
- Learning and development opportunities: Make sure employees know their career path options. How can they grow and improve?
Check out our blog on engaging remote employees for more ideas.
Focus on Employee Safety, Health & Wellbeing
Many are still nervous about COVID-19. Employee health and wellbeing are crucial to a company’s productivity. Plus, people are looking for empathy from their employers, who must continue prioritizing their employees’ safety.
Speaking generally, employees want an employer who cares about their overall wellness and mental health. This is especially important during the pandemic, which has taken a toll on many workers’ mental health.
What you can do:
Take measures to ensure workers feel heard and safe, whether at the workplace or working from home.
- COVID-19 mandates: You can mandate regular COVID-19 testing and vaccinations as a private employer. Keep in mind laws on medical and religious exemptions.
- Additional health and safety measures: Continue with current health and safety protocols, such as mask requirements and social distancing, to make employees feel more comfortable.
- Offer wellness tools: Subscriptions to gyms, yoga centers, meditation apps, passes to wellness events and webinars, or have various wellness experts come in and host classes.
Emphasis on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Research by People Management found that diverse teams (of three or more people) are 87% better at making decisions. They also make decisions faster than individual workers. Plus, 2 out of 3 job candidates search for a diverse company, according to Glassdoor.
Safe to say, all organizations should be implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) into their framework.
While a growing number of organizations are investing in DE&I, the overall effort still needs a lot of work. Companies need to focus on building diverse teams and making this workplace trend an integral part of their operations and mission.
What you can do:
Don’t just say, show that you’re committed to DE&I through your actions and the people you bring on board.
- Invest in inclusive leaders: Recruit and develop inclusive leaders at all levels. These are open-minded professionals who make a visible commitment to DE&I, have a high level of cultural intelligence, and foster collaboration.
- Hire diverse teams: Diverse teams can provide powerful insights and solutions, especially in departments like research and development, marketing, and customer service.
- Maintain accountability: Hold everyone, particularly leaders, responsible for practicing DE&I. This includes how teams are managed, and business processes are developed.
- Incorporate DE&I into your foundation: Evaluate your organization’s structures, processes, and policies to remove systemic biases and create equity. Instead, use inclusive design to establish systems around the needs of the most underrepresented people to make them better for everyone.
Although the rapidly changing workforce creates challenges, much of it will be for the better. The shift in focus from companies thinking only about their bottom line to a team-oriented, employee-centric mentality is a positive overall workplace trend.
Do you need guidance as you adjust for these workplace trends? Our HR experts will be happy to help! Contact BlueLion today at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-818-4131.
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.