THE FUTURE OF WORK HR REPORT 2022

Look ahead at the key HR industry trends and predictions which are emerging to shape the future of work and employee experience for 2022.

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FUTURE HR TRENDS FOR 2022 AND BEYOND

What employees value most is changing, and it’s changing fast. We’ve spoken to industry experts to give us their insights and predictions for the emerging trends in HR, focusing on the following key areas:

Why getting hybrid working right is central to post-pandemic competitiveness

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Written by FRANK MØLLEROP, CEO, Tivian

When it comes to the world of work, the pandemic ripped up the rules overnight, everything has changed! And amidst all the disruption, what employees value most has changed.

As McKinsey puts it, “Workers are hungry for trust, social cohesion, and purpose. They want to feel that their contributions are recognised and that their team is truly collaborative. They desire clear responsibilities and opportunities to learn and grow. They expect their personal sense of purpose to align with that of their organisation.”

Nowhere is this more visible than the shift to hybrid working – employees now demand a much greater say in when, and where, they will work. Fail to meet their needs, and they will move elsewhere. Delivering successful hybrid working brings challenges for organisations and managers alike:

All of these are both challenges and opportunities. The companies that win at hybrid working and thus attract and retain top talent will be those that listen to their people and deliver a personalised, high quality employee experience. They will equip their managers with the skills they require to successfully nurture and develop their teams. The stakes are high – now is the time for organisations to step up to the plate.

Some of the advantages you should expect from providing an excellent employee experience are:

The first step to get to these benefits is to start working on an experience intelligence strategy in order to drive productive employee engagement.

CREATING AN ENHANCED EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

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The continued need for managers to listen

Written by NOELLE MURPHY, Senior Editor, XpertHR

With the labour market continuing to heat up, the employer-employee relationship has to continue its evolution based on authentic, high quality conversations.

Wellbeing leapt to the top of the agenda of all businesses at the beginning of the pandemic but it needs to remain there with ongoing commitment from all senior leaders. They need to devote time and resources to listen to sometimes uncomfortable truths from employees. Senior leaders have to adapt their style of managing and leading to a more equitable one or face losing key talent to those that do.

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Taking an individual approach to employee experience

Written by PETER WILDE, Head of Employee Experience, Tivian

The Great Resignation isn’t just a trend for 2022 – job figures from this year show that it’s already happening. People are either moving companies, swapping industries or even quitting/downsizing as COVID has changed people’s ideas about what they want out of work – and life.

So how are organisations supposed to attract the rockstars of the future and keep the ones they’ve got? Leaders may think they know what people want and what drives them, but these assumptions will inevitably be wrong because they’re not factoring in the changes we’ve seen since the start of the pandemic.

Leaders must now start to engage people as individuals, with unique experiences and expectations.

We’re increasingly seeing our clients collect feedback, gain insights and action change at an individual level because they know that this is what will turn people into advocates, enabling them to out-hire and outperform their competitors.

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Delivering an employee experience to attract and retain all generations

Written by KAREN WISDOM, Senior Consultant, Tivian

Since lockdown restrictions lifted, we have been hearing a lot about the Great Resignation and it is no surprise that recent employment statistics now indicate a wealth of new job vacancies. These are in addition to vacancies in sectors with significant skills shortages; at the time of writing these include HGV drivers, care workers, hospitality, nursing staff, programmers, and teachers. There remains an opportunity to raise awareness of career paths among new talent pools, and to upskill/re-skill talent to meet some of these needs.

A large proportion of this attrition has been created by the pandemic, either through business closures (e.g., in hospitality) or by employees reflecting upon and reassessing their jobs, career paths and priorities. A proportion of more disillusioned employees have opted for an improved work-life balance or a better hybrid/remote working arrangement elsewhere, or decided to start up their own businesses.

Meeting the needs of Generations Y and Z

Beyond the basics, it is acknowledged that Gen Y (now 25-40 years) value skills acquisition, good work-life balance, flexible working hours and strong policies around corporate social responsibility and diversity. Hot on their heels, Gen Z (currently between 9-24 years) care deeply about an organisation’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and a healthy work-life balance. The majority aspire to work for an employer whose values align with their own.

In 2022, expect to see greater personalisation of employer branding communications, and tailoring of the employee experience to the needs of different segments, with flexibility over working arrangements and alignment to employees’ values featuring strongly.

There is also talk of a ‘boomerang’ effect, with employees leaving their organisations for a better opportunity, only to find that the grass elsewhere is not greener, and then looking to return to their old employer. This underlines the importance, not only of a continued focus on retaining talent, but also the value of creating effective alumni groups and keeping them engaged, both as advocates of your organisation, as prospective customers/clients and as potential returners.

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The importance of authenticity in the world of hybrid work

Written by CHRIS KEDWELL, CEO Ad Magic Media

Being authentically yourself in a work environment elevates your confidence and inspires trust in others who work with you. Being your authentic self takes less energy, is more enjoyable, and ultimately allows you to follow your passions at work and succeed in your career.

It is well researched (for example, Google’s Project Aristotle) that successful teams have members who trust each other and are confident in taking risks. So how does that apply to an organisation as a whole? And how does this apply to the future of work in an environment where the cohesion of teams is reduced by the hybrid remote working model we are now considering to be the norm?

As an individual, to be yourself, you truly have to know yourself. That requires deep introspection and the mental space to evaluate who you truly are and what you truly want without the external noise of other people’s demands on your time.

Building an authentic organisation

The same applies to organisations. Going through the process of understanding your culture through the lens of Employer Value Proposition – who you are and what you offer as an employer – can lead to insights about who the company truly is, and how the people working there view it.

This evaluation cuts through the clamour of day-to-day activities and allows for a deep understanding of who the company authentically is and allows positive actions to be taken to ensure that everyone works towards a consistent culture, values, and expected behaviours throughout the organisation. This creates cohesion and trust between team members, regardless of their physical or virtual presence and ultimately to success for the company and everyone’s careers.

DELIVERING THE LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR A NEW WORLD OF WORK

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Developing managers and embracing a coaching culture

Written by KATE PRITCHARD, Head of Engagement & Leadership, Tivian

The pandemic really shone a light on the need for line managers to have strong people skills and to be able to empathise and connect with their team as people first. This will continue in 2022 as hybrid working remains the norm for many. Managers will have a key role in connecting individuals with the organisation, and relationships between individuals and their manager will be more critical than ever, having a strong influence on whether employees stay or leave their job.

An essential part of this is the need for managers themselves to feel supported, and to have the time and resources they need to then support their teams. Adopting a coaching culture can encourage this, and I predict more organisations will embrace coaching as a key management technique in 2022.

As coaches, leaders set clear expectations, delegate intentionally and place a focus on problem solving. They give their reports the autonomy to make decisions and find their own solutions. Coaching provides the recipient with the support that they need to think clearly, identify opportunities for improvement and increase their engagement.

By adopting a coaching approach throughout an organisation, all leaders are supporting and developing their direct reports. This builds confidence and empowerment throughout the organisation and will result in a healthier and more resilient workforce, one better able to cope with whatever challenges the future holds.

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Leaders becoming even more ‘human’

Written by SARAH AKANBI, People & Culture Consultant, Akanbi Consulting

We’ve seen many examples of how leadership and HR teams have adapted and become more flexible and empathetic towards their employees in the last year or so. In part perhaps because it’s been the ‘right’ thing to do, but also because the pandemic has affected everyone. When the challenging aspects of stress, isolation and new ways of working have impacted decision makers, it’s made empathising that little bit easier for some.

I think we will see more ‘human’ elements from leadership and HR, specifically kindness and flexibility. I think it will be from new learnt behaviours, but also in response to a more demanding candidate pool. Job seekers won’t settle for an inflexible working policy or a company where online employee reviews tell them that managers did not show care and consideration to their people during the hardest of times.

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Work Well, Live Well: The future of wellbeing in the workplace?

Written by BEN DALTON, Director, E3i

What do we see happening in the future of wellbeing in the workplace as we move into 2022? It comes down to the 4 Bs of wellbeing.

Boundaries

23% of people never even switch off their computer. Integrating the right to disconnect will be paramount to fixing the always-on culture, with clear start and end times for people and technology. Email signatures containing work hours, out of office messages and designated work phones are just some of the ways to tackle this going forward.

Breaks

Regular breaks throughout the workday make people more focused, more productive and happier. This could be walking away from their desk, leaving the sensory overload of the shopfloor, having a drink or taking a breath of fresh air. Breaks should be encouraged by employers and integrated into appraisals and 121s to manage stress and burnout.

Belonging

Social connectivity, trust and development are at the forefront here. Research shows that having a social workplace can increase work quality by up to 35%. It can also make people mentally and physically healthier.

A separate study found that lonely workers were more likely to look for jobs elsewhere. People want the trust of their employer to choose their best place and time for work – organisations will need to focus on work completed as opposed to hours clocked. They also want opportunities to develop and build new skills to strengthen belonging.

Balance

Work and life are more interconnected than ever, but for all businesses in 2022 it will be integral to find an effective balance:

ACCELERATING DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION TO DRIVE REAL CHANGE

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As we emerge from the pandemic, inclusive workplace cultures have never been more important

Written by ANDREW COCKS Senior Consultant, Tivian

Following the great resignation and continuing labour shortages across a range of sectors, employers must focus on providing inclusive, purposeful workplaces if they are to compete for talent. Corporate scandals and enduring pay gaps continue to erode trust and damage corporate reputations. There will be a continuing spotlight on the actions that employers across all sectors take to create inclusive cultures. In order to build diverse and inclusive workplaces organisations need to focus on:

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Continued challenges – and opportunities - for inclusion

Written by ANTHONY RYLAND, Founder & CEO Tap’d Solutions

2022 will present continued challenges for inclusion in organisations. For those executive committees and senior teams struggling to bed down their version of hybrid working there will be emerging challenges around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

Hybrid working will only succeed if an individual approach is taken. Rather than a “40% of time in the office policy”, we need to flex based on the individual’s personal environment and needs. This means that senior leadership needs to invest in the people skills of the team managers, equipping them with the behaviours and awareness needed to proactively support each colleague to adjust to new ways of working.

As this rolls out, 2022 is therefore a great time to equip team managers with the skills to understand diversity of teams and the inclusion of all at the same time, as so many of these behavioural skills overlap. It provides an opportunity to really shift inclusion in the workplace.

However, there is also a threat to continued efforts for greater diversity and inclusion.

Dispersing our people makes it harder to develop supportive communities for under represented groups. Our people from more disadvantaged backgrounds may struggle more from distractions and a lack of quality space when homeworking. More than ever, we need to ensure our DEI policies are entwined with our strategic people decisions and organisational design right at the most senior level, so as not to undo the great work that most organisations were starting to do pre-pandemic. 2022 therefore is a critical year for DEI.

EMBEDDING INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS WITHIN THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE

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Addressing communications challenges in the new world of work

Written by KEITH KITANI Fellow at Tivian, former CEO GuideSpark

The pandemic caused companies to become online and remote almost overnight, dramatically and permanently changing how we think about the workplace. Now, as many employees return to the office, organisations are starting to re-imagine the employee experience to engage their increasingly digital, distributed, and diverse workforces. Communication will be central to connecting and engaging employees in this new workplace.

In 2022, one of the biggest communication challenges organisations will face is information overload. The blending of personal and professional lives, combined with the digital, always-on, “new mobile app of the week” employee experience is causing employees to be overwhelmed with information. Organisations will start replacing these “one-size-fits-all” messages with targeted, personalised and relevant communications that increase engagement and reduce the digital noise, a big first step to delivering a next-generation employee experience.

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Why targeted communications are essential to successful change

Written by CHARLES LEE, SEVP & Head of North America, Tivian

Digital transformation has been a challenging roller coaster for many enterprises. Even before the pandemic, companies were investing heavily in digitalising their employee operations and processes, from internal communications to workforce management.

Now, with the pandemic and its aftermath accelerating the pressure on companies to optimise remote work scenarios, create virtual cultures, or combat increasing attrition, successful employee communications and engagement is more important than ever before. Unfortunately, digital transformations will fail if companies only focus on initiatives and programs. Reaching and engaging employees through communication is critical to ensure the workforce is aware, educated, motivated and inspired to take action.

Taking a personal approach

But communications are also not one-size-fits-all. Simply blasting more emails and text messages or pointing employees en masse to another intranet just adds to an overwhelming amount of noise and distraction already prevalent in the (virtual and non-virtual) workplace.

Communications are most successful when employees are segmented and messaging is personalised, and customised. Enterprises that are achieving high levels of employee engagement are identifying and building employee personas, leveraging well-designed communications content, and investing in strong communication strategy principles. These sorts of practices, in combination with a robust internal communications system, can help to build bridges between employees and company programs, including those that are digital transformation based.

The final key to unlocking successful employee engagement is in the ability to measure, analyse and adapt your communications program. Too often, companies fail in their first attempt to reach and engage employees through communications, which is then incorrectly interpreted as a reason to give up on the concept.

When a communications system and accompanying strategy allows a company to survey their employees and qualify that feedback against system data, companies can then harness the power of quantitative insights – or true employee intelligence – derived from both feedback and behaviour. Quickly adapting your communications strategy based on that data can then make the difference in achieving program success.