2022 State of HR report: Key findings and strategies

There’s been a seismic shift for human resources professionals over the past year. You’ve probably felt it most in the wake of The Great Resignation/Attraction/Realignment, the wave of digital transformation and adoption of HR Analytics platforms, and the challenges associated with distributed and hybrid teams.


As a HR manager, you may have some burning questions around how other leaders have managed to embrace the “new normal” and strategically push forward during this time. Perhaps you’re wondering:

  • Are other teams able to maintain a healthy work-life balance?

  • Is there a correlation between hybrid teams and employee performance?

  • What impacts are data and security breaches having on HR?

  • How are other organizations measuring diversity and inclusion?

  • Will there be a “return to the office”?

  • How are other HR managers monitoring their employees’ mental health and wellbeing?

Collating and analyzing data from our strategic HR survey, Our 2022 State of HR report pulls apart and demystifies these topics so you can better understand HR and business trends during the last 12 months, gain insights and strategies from the findings, and benchmark your organization with a best-practice resource.

We surveyed 60 HR professionals from nine countries across the globe who answered topical questions about the current state of HR. Here’s a breakdown of the respondent demographics:

  • The majority of respondents were from Australia (49%), New Zealand (5%) and North America (38%).

  • Industries represented include professional services (30%), financial (10%), I.T. (11%) and healthcare (9%).

With inclusions and research from intelliHR partners, Datacom (payroll), Go1 (learning and development) and JobAdder (recruitment), the playbook provides an analysis and evaluation of the state of HR with tangible strategies for leaders to thrive in this ever-changing industry climate.

Download the 2022 State of HR report for the full analysis of our findings, and check out the snapshot below:

Key findings from the 2022 State of HR report

State of HR 2022 Key Findings

1. Employee engagement and performance is the #1 priority for HR right now

36% of HR professionals say employee engagement and performance are a top priority. HR professionals know that there’s an intrinsic connection between engagement and performance. With only one third of respondents saying that 70-100% of their workforce is “highly engaged”, many leaders (24%) believe that both their engagement and performance challenges stem mostly from having distributed workforces, hybrid teams, and remote working.

What percentage of your employees are highly engaged?

Two ways you can boost employee engagement, hang onto your high performers and future-proof your teams in 2022 are by factoring 360-degree engagement into your HR strategy and seeking feedback through check-ins, review forms and eNPS surveys via your HR software.

2. Top challenge is ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic

During the second year of the pandemic, HR managers were continuing to feel the weight of the challenges it’s created for their teams and, more widely, organizations as a whole. 37% of respondents listed ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic as a top challenge in 2021.

Embracing agility via self-organizing teams will help to keep momentum; Agile organizations that remain continually responsive and accepting of uncertainty are the ones that will reach new heights in 2022.

3. Retention is the next big challenge HR professionals are facing

46% of HR professionals say retention and recruitment will be a key challenge in 2022. The fallout and uncertainty that’s come about due to The Great Resignation/Attraction/Realignment likely plays a part here with 42% of respondents reporting increased attrition in 2021 (with 10% of those losing more than 20% of their headcount) as a direct impact of this phenomenon.

While compensation may be the key driver of attrition (32% agree), it’s important to go beyond industry data and look internally at the mental health and wellbeing of your staff to get a more accurate gauge on what’s impacting retention in your organization.

RELATED: A complete guide to employee turnover and attrition

4. 92% of HR teams are actively monitoring wellbeing and mental health

They’re doing so mostly through face-to-face communication. However, 36% are “not sure” if their employees are maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This suggests possible limitations of the systems that organizations have in place to address mental health and wellbeing outcomes, or that leaders aren’t certain what to look for (or what to do next once they have the relevant data).

monitoring wellbeing and mental health

Mental health and wellbeing in the workforce often goes hand-in-hand with employee engagement so, again, to comprehensively evaluate and understand what makes your workforce tick, continuous feedback tools like eNPS surveys, check-ins and psychological safety exercises should factor into your HR process.

5. 44% are mandating vaccines with 22% due to compliance requirements

It’s becoming increasingly important for organizations to keep a record of their employees’ Covid-19 vaccination status. Most HR managers are taking these measures to achieve compliance reasons. With ongoing disruption (and the seemingly constant need to pivot and reshape HR strategies to align with staff requirements), throughout it all, HR have remained steadfast and central to business continuity.

RELATED: How to track your team’s Covid-19 vaccination status with intelliHR

6. 2 in 5 businesses require their people to be in the office at least 3 days per week

However, it’s unlikely that there will be a total “return to the office”. intelliHR Founder and CEO, Rob Bromage, predicts, “Although many organizations had their hearts set on returning to the office in 2021 (indeed, 37% of respondents to the intelliHR Strategic HR survey said they were mandating a return of 3-5 days) as the pandemic continues, in 2022 HR and leaders will set aside these “nice-to-haves” and re-evaluate exactly what they need to make work happen.”

Want more insights? Read all of Rob Bromage’s predictions in the Top HR Trends 2022 article.

7. 2 in 3 businesses measure diversity and inclusion

66% of organizations measure diversity but 32% (that’s one-third) don’t. Those who do are typically using analytics from a HRIS (33%) and employee engagement platform reporting (16%). We expect this number to only improve given the current social climate and increased regulations coming into place.

How do you measure diversity?

For those not yet using HR technology, this is an opportunity to tick off two boxes: digitizing processes and getting on the front foot of future regulatory reporting requirements.

8. 75% of HR professionals are maintaining a healthy work-life balance

HR managers are leading by example when it comes to prioritizing their work-life balance but there’s some uncertainty around whether or not their employees are following suit. Around half (51%) of survey respondents say that their employees are maintaining a healthy work-life balance and 36% are not sure.

healthy work-life balance

In practice, there are a few things you can do to improve this measure:

  1. Track wellbeing – use an engagement or HR software to track wellbeing in your organization. This will allow you to visualize and explore trends and identify issues faster.

  2. Act on feedback – build trust with your employees by acting on feedback to improve their wellbeing and mental health challenges.

  3. Revisit, evaluate and revise your workplace wellbeing strategy on a regular basis to ensure you’re addressing current issues and tackling uncertainty.

While organizations faced an array of complex challenges last year, there’s a lot to be said for the commitment HR managers have made to taking these issues on board and adapting accordingly. Our 2022 State of HR report gives you a deeper insight into how leaders have helped their teams thrive in 2021 and some strategies to put into practice in 2022.

It’s important to remember that while industry benchmarking data can support your decision making, the most valuable insights come from your organization. Strategic HR systems that put HR analytics first can ultimately help you harness your people data to inform your next steps in 2022.