Human resources (HR) never faced as much disruption as it did during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the effects of which are still being felt today. HR as a function has been neck-deep in work for the last two-and-a-half years as a result, and this has led to some major long-term transformations in the workplace as HR reinvented itself in response to new and unprecedented challenges.
In addition to this, HR is undergoing a paradigm shift as a result of the rapidly evolving and dynamic business space. Attitudes, ideas, and processes that worked a decade or two ago are obsolete today and there’s a constant transformation going on that is changing the way HR is aligned with business goals. You only need to look at the increase in the number of organizations that have created C-level roles like Chief Talent Officer or Chief People Executive to begin to appreciate this.
All these factors mean that new trends are always emerging in the HR space, and 2022 has seen its fair share of them. Let’s take a look at some of the top trends that are dominating this year.
Top HR Trends for 2022
- No Widespread Return to the Office
- Employee Wellbeing Remains a Priority
- The Continuance of the ‘Great Resignation’
- Developing Employee Skills
- More Fluid Organizational Structures
1. No Return to the Office
Although it may have seemed as though many organizations were going to prioritize a return to the office as soon as possible following the pandemic, this is no longer the case. It is now very much known to be the case that there won’t be a widespread, full-time return to the office for the majority of workers who can work from home.
Indeed, we’re still living in a COVID world and remote therefore remains the safest option. Its flexibility has also become the norm for employees, with 64 percent of employees aged 22 to 65 claiming that they work remotely on a regular basis according to the State of Remote Work, a study by Owl Labs.
In many cases, employees are actively demanding the flexibility to choose to work from home or remotely at least some of the time. Microsoft and LinkedIn recently conducted a joint study across 31 countries to highlight that today’s employees want the best of both worlds in workplaces. Those that aren’t provided with that opportunity are, as we’ve seen with the so-called ‘Great Resignation’, more than willing to quit their jobs and find new ones.
As a result, HR teams will be working closely with organizational leaders to build policies and processes that are aligned with the new normal of work.
2. Employee Wellbeing Remains a Priority
The pandemic wasn’t just a massive burden for employers and HR teams but for employees, too. Personal commitments, family care, financial losses, and professional responsibilities have all taken their toll on the well-being of employees. According to a report by McKinsey, 62 percent of employees consider mental health issues to be an ongoing challenge because of the pandemic.
Although HR teams have been implementing new wellness and mental health initiatives since the start of the pandemic, these have come into focus more this year now that HR teams are able to look more closely at the long-term. Permanent flexible work schedules, in-person wellness activities, additional medical coverage, fitness subsidies, and more are all examples of how HR teams are helping to support employee wellbeing.
3. The Continuance of the ‘Great Resignation’
The ‘Great Resignation’, also known as the ‘Big Quit’ and the ‘Big Resign’ has led to a crisis situation for employers worldwide, especially in the IT sector. According to the same Microsoft and LinkedIn joint study cited earlier, 46 percent of employees are planning to make a significant career move in the near future because they’re no longer happy in their current position.
This trend is set to continue in the near future and represents a big task for HR teams. Not only do they need to try and retain talent with the odds stacked against them, but they’ve also got to attract new talent at a time when prospective employees are looking for more from their potential employers.
Remember that although employees have historically been viewed as a cost of doing business rather than a key source of revenue, times change. Today, employees are the people who accelerate organizational change and are the ambassadors of any company. As such, organizational leaders should be doing all they can to improve the employee experience and entice people to come on board and stay in the long term.
Given that studies have shown that U.S. working adults between the ages of 18 to 24 are changing jobs up to 5.7 times, this has never been more important, especially for firms that want to attract professional millennials and Gen Z talent. Higher salaries, true flexible working, better benefits, and more competitive roles are all ways that HR teams can help to weather the current wave of resignation activity, attract young talent, and come out ahead of the competition by encouraging them to stick around.
4. Developing Employee Skills
Indeed, the growth in resignation activity has led to organizational leaders realizing the importance of developing their employees’ skills.
Many organizations are now putting more effort into developing their employees into more qualified and efficient contributors to their goals. They’re enrolling more of them into educational programs, creating more training workshops, and providing practical guidance that enables them to excel in their current positions, and more. Doing this not only benefits the employer but also the employee who feels more valued and better equipped to drive real tangible progress within the organization.
Another way some organizations are encouraging employee development and making them part of the bigger picture is by giving them autonomy to come up with and set into motion innovative ideas and smaller, out-of-the-box tasks.
5. More Fluid Organizational Structures
In recent years, we’ve seen more and more organizations moving away from the old-school hierarchical organizational structure to ones that are more modern and fluid and that better represent the modern organization. This is especially true in more forward-thinking industries like tech.
More fluid structures, such as the flat organizational structure, the matrix organizational structure, and other decentralized structures are quickly becoming important for flexibility, agility, and the ability to quickly respond to unpredictable and unforeseen events and market situations. This is encouraging more firms, including larger incumbents and stalwarts, to reinvent their chains of command and rethink their span of control so that their operations and employees can work more effectively.
This move away from hierarchical to more fluid structures is significant because of the important role organizational charts play in organizational success. If you would like to learn more about org charts and build an understanding of why the shift from hierarchical to more fluid structures is significant, begin by reading our organizational chart guide.