Key HR Trends for 2022

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Over the last two years, HR teams have been unsung heroes in the business world. Not only have HR departments had to deal with COVID-19, including high rates of sickness absence, high staff turnover, and a complete change in how people work, they have been faced with a shortage of lower and higher-skilled workers across a range of sectors.

This has caused considerable pressure within the domestic job market, with many occupations facing huge increases in wage demand. According to data from Culture Amp, in the first quarter of 2021, only 39% of UK HR professionals felt that they were sufficiently equipped to balance the requirements of their role.

Thankfully, as COVID-19 appears to be waning, HR teams in the UK are focusing their energies on new initiatives and plans, some of which have emerged as a result of the pandemic. Our HR consultants summarise what they think will be the top five HR trends for 2022/23.

What are the top 5 HR priorities in 2022?

HR Trend 1: Workplace well-being

There’s an ever-increasing pressure on employers to consider the mental health of their workers. Another emerging development is the introduction of menstrual leave and better workplace support for women in the workplace. Charities focused on raising awareness of menstruation and period pain have recently called on the UK government to introduce menstruation leave. This follows a Bill drafted by politicians in Spain requiring employers to provide three days of paid leave for women with severe period pain.

We also expect to see the scope of well-being in the workplace widened to include not just physical and mental well-being but also financial, social, and career well-being.

HR Trend 2: Hybrid working

COVID-19 has permanently changed the way in which we work, and hybrid working styles will almost certainly remain. The pandemic has forced many employers to switch to a working model that they may never have otherwise fully embraced. According to Accenture, 83% of workers prefer hybrid working. The challenge for HR teams is how to make hybrid working a normal part of the operational model including how to communicate, lead, motivate, and create an inclusive working culture.

HR Trend 3: Employees seeking similar values

According to research by Future Workplace and Blue Beyond Consulting entitled, “Closing the Employee Expectations Gap”, 80% of employees agree that it is important for their employer’s values to align with their own. Nearly three-quarters of respondents to their survey said they expect their employer to be a force for good in society. Given that, according to PwC, 18% of employees in a survey of 2,000 people across a range of sectors said they are “very or extremely likely” to switch to a new employer within the next year, employers will need to do all they can to align with their values with those of prospective employees.

HR Trend 5: Recruitment and retention

With job vacancies at a record high and employers struggling to recruit and retain employees, HR teams and employers will need to re-evaluate their current offering and identify key strategies to retain employees and appeal to potential candidates. A basic benefits package is no longer enough, businesses will need to think about how they can build a strong employer brand to attract and retain talent.

HR Trend 5: The need to upskill HR

Forbes expects to see a growing acknowledgement of the importance of up-skilled HR teams to lead workforce transformation. This is significant because while all too often, HR teams are seen as vital to supporting the business, they often miss out on their own training and development. As Forbes puts it, “The HR and Learning teams have become the cobbler’s children, forgotten and left to their own devices to up-skill themselves”.

How will these trends shape HR?

The five trends outlined above highlight the extent to which the field of HR is evolving, in part due to the recent pandemic, but also new technologies, Brexit, wider cultural changes, and the growing expectation that the overall well-being of staff is no longer optional. As a result, the role of HR experts will become all the more important in coping with and adapting to these emerging trends.

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