Last year I wrote about the disruption of every single organization due to COVID-19 and the fact that HR was at the coalface of this, acting as the first responders and guiding forces for both people and the business. After such immense change, HR and leaders alike were looking to 2021 with optimism and hope for stability, safety, and normality.
Vaccinations have allowed some semblance of normality to return for many of us; however, the ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic (which was named the No.1 challenge for HR professionals in intelliHR’s 2022 State of HR Report – to be released soon), saw some strategies and plans waylaid, and others take precedence. Throughout it all though, HR have remained steadfast and central to business continuity.
As I sit down to write this and reflect on both the year that’s been and the year ahead, I can’t help but think if I’d written this at the start of November, it would have been a very different story. But with the news of the latest COVID variant, it looks like uncertainty is here to stay and the only way forward is to work alongside it, not against it.
With this in mind, here is what I predict the HR trends in 2022 will be.
Top HR trends 2022
We now have a great opportunity to reimagine how we use offices as a base for our team members, versus a 9 to 5 location.
Although many organizations had their hearts set on returning to the office in 2021 (indeed 37% of respondents to our State of HR survey said they were mandating a return), 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.
Remote work in a COVID world is still the safest option and its flexibility has become the norm for employees. The number of employees who have been employed remote-first is growing (over 60% for intelliHR in 2021). Internally, when we talk to employees, yes, they want opportunities to come together, but they also want the flexibility to work from home or wherever suits them best. If they’re not provided with that option – they may be a flight risk.
This year, what I, and many other business leaders have learned is that while we cannot control the pandemic, what we can control is the way we care for and prioritize our people. In the face of unfathomable challenges and lives lost, we’ve realized that what matters now is not getting people together in one place, but ensuring their wellbeing and that they have all the tools to successfully undertake their roles, wherever they are.
Agile organizations that remain continually responsive and accepting of uncertainty are the ones that will reach new heights in 2022.
This agility will be best realized through decentralized organizational structures, where data, intelligence and decision-making aren’t reserved for C-suite but are made available and accessible to empower self-organizing teams.
A self-organizing structure shifts the power to teams to make decisions about their work and its organization. This is even more important for geographically distributed teams who might be facing vastly different environmental challenges..
Providing teams with the tools, analytics and visibility to respond to both macro and micro changes will yield efficiencies because they will not only be able to respond quicker, but their responses will be tailored to their unique set of needs and circumstances.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how the work gets done, but that it does get done in a way that prioritizes safety and aligns with the organizational strategy.
The next challenge for 2022 will be finding sustainable ways to build and maintain a high performance culture across hybrid and remote teams.
In 2022, the most important ingredients for culture will be trust, transparency and care. At intelliHR, there are three simple priorities that follow from this.
1. Live our purpose, people charter and values
- Our purpose is to have a meaningful and positive impact on people’s lives at work so they can do their best.
intelli’s people charter
- intelliHR is where you will be valued for your individual talents whilst trusted to innovate, collaborate and create as a team. You also have a role to help create an environment that everyone feels safe in, so that we all can create the best work of our lives.
- We value team, fun, recognition and celebration.
- We value openness, truthfulness and transparency.
- We value being different and inclusion.
- We value autonomy and accountability.
- We value mastery by trying, failing, failing fast and learning from failing.
- We value learning and we accept we have a lot to learn.
2. Create opportunities for meaningful connection
Bringing individuals and teams together to connect and celebrate through work routines, team achievements, company milestones,1:1s and virtual events.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Being clear and transparent in our communication of the above as well as strategy and operations helps build trust and transparency; the backbone of any successful culture.
By looking after your people at work so that they can do what they need to do, both in and outside of work, they’ll be empowered to bring their best every day (and don’t forget to look after your leaders, too).
FREE DOWNLOAD: Toolkit: Managing hybrid and remote teams
We now have a large cohort of people who’ve onboarded and have only ever worked remotely for our organizations. In 2022 and beyond, we will see these remote natives go from strength to strength.
A significant portion of employees who’ve started new jobs in the last 18 months will have had a partial or fully-remote experience: they may never have met their teammates in person! Despite what the experts have said; however, this hasn’t affected their career opportunities or ability to develop relationships.
On the contrary, they are skilled digital networkers who create strong impressions and lasting connections. They work hard and achieve results – and get recognized for it.
Indeed, for the North American and UK intelliHR teams, the first time many of them met face-to-face was November 2021, yet they have developed incredibly strong bonds with each other.
We’re seeing remote natives flourish because they’re being given the opportunity to do so on their own terms.
In 2022, HR will begin to think about employee engagement in reverse – beginning with job design and employee experience for the remote employee rather than how to engage an employee physically in the office. They will prioritize goal-setting, be clear about expectations and give them the freedom and tools to learn and discover in their own ways, as well as structured opportunities for mentorship and coaching.
These are my predictions for HR trends in 2022. Do you agree or do you have other predictions? We’d love to hear them.