2022 HR Trends – Priorities and Challenges

2022 HR Trends – Priorities and Challenges

Companies that adjust the fastest will thrive the most post-pandemic. Global HR survey stresses on building critical skills and competencies.

Very recently, Gartner surveyed over 500 HR leaders across all business sectors in 60 countries to analyze the trends, priorities and expected challenges for the coming year. While the list churned out ‘building critical skills and competencies’ on top for the fourth consecutive year running (59%); other priorities for HR leaders included leadership, change management and diversity initiatives.

Figure 1: Trending priorities for HR leaders; Source: Gartner

The primary areas of focus, according to the research, are set to be in (i) improving operational excellence, (ii) executing business transformation and (iii) growing the business. At a time when workers slowly look to find their feet back in a hybrid work environment, business transformation becomes more crucial than ever.

Figure 2: Top organizational priorities for 2022; Source: Gartner

The Hybrid ‘New Work’ Paradigm

About 92% of the HR leaders surveyed expect at least some employees to work remotely, with only 5% expecting their full workforce back at the office full-time. If landslide majorities are anything to go by, one can presume hybrid work environments are almost definitely set to be the norm of the future.

The pandemic may have truly changed the intrinsic nature of the way people work as well. In this ‘New Work’ paradigm workers are looking to get more out of their jobs than ever before. It has become more than simply the transactional exchange of labour for compensation; it is now an exercise in fulfilment, purpose and wellbeing – and this has executives worried about employee turnover, and quite radically so. 

In fact, only 9% of the surveyed executives claimed that they were ‘not concerned’ about employee turnover over the coming months.

Figure 3: Hybrid work and employee turnover; Source: Gartner
Yet, Singapore-based EngageRocket found, in its research, that most organisations are yet to completely acknowledge and appreciate the importance of this approach.

Addressing Missed Communication

To this end, an August survey by Gartner found six major gaps “between leader and employee sentiment on the future employee experience”, and claimed that organisations that failed to address said divide would lose the competitive edge around the future of work. These mostly centred around misconceptions that executives had about their own firms that were not shared by their employees. Aspects such as flexibility, ease of access in working from home and miscommunication ranked as some of the top reported gaps.

The report from EngageRocket thus found three major areas for HR to focus on in the coming year: 

  • To develop a clear two-way communication strategy: This requires HR to “listen to the voice of the employee (VoE) and base future communications on employee input. The feedback can help shape follow-up actions, creating a closed feedback loop.”
  • To deploy ‘continuous listening’: Research has found that HR teams that conduct regular employee lifecycle surveys and pulse surveys along with 360-degree reviews have much happier employees.
  • To enable more frequent check-ins between employees and executives: This not only helps detect and address problem areas early on, but also allows for smoother flow of information between levels.

The Future of Work

The Gartner 2022 HR report found that figuring out the future of work is the topmost priority for about 42% of the surveyed executives. It is also, however, one of the most common challenges, with 49% of the responding HR executives stating that they did not have an explicit strategy for the future of work in their organisations.Post-pandemic disruptions are all set to completely upend workforce planning. The question for HR executives, according to Gartner, is to figure out exactly “how much these trends have and will alter their organization’s strategic goals and plans and what immediate and longer-term workforce adjustments are required as a result

Figure 4: Long-term post-COVID-19 trends; Source: Gartner

To do so, it will be crucial to first identify the trends most relevant to individual businesses. “Screening megatrends for relevance, impact and opportunity is a critical first step in HR scenario planning and strategic workforce planning”, according to Gartner.

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