Visibility, leadership training, recruitment and retention lead HR trends for 2022

Organizations are struggling to rebuild as workplaces emerge from pandemic.
Feature Tech Trends 2021 Panel

It’s no exaggeration to say that COVID-19 affected workplaces across the world. According to the ADP Research Institute’s “People at Work: A Global Workforce View“ study, within a year, COVID-19 significantly impacted the global workforce. Of the 64% that were negatively impacted, 23% took a pay cut and 28% lost their jobs entirely. These challenging times provided an opportunity for staff to reevaluate their priorities, and with the world slowly getting back on track, they feel empowered to make employment decisions that best suit their personal and professional goals.

To create a culture of connection while growing their business, employers must turn their attention to the wants and needs of their people more than ever. “Amid all the change,” says Don Weinstein, corporate vice president of global product and technology at ADP, “one common thread has only grown stronger: People power performance.”

But how can organizations update their processes and policies to match the demands of the current employee landscape?

These four HR trends tell the tale:

1. The value of visibility

While the daily operations of some businesses couldn’t be done virtually, those that quickly moved to remote operations have now shifted largely toward hybrid frameworks. The result: creating a situation where work gets done from varying locations.

Making the best use of distributed workforces means increasing employee visibility. This requires reliable access to in-depth “people data” to have more insight into employee engagement and performance. Equipped with this information, managers can better support hybrid teams and develop a culture built on mutual trust and respect, which is critical to retaining and attracting talent. According to recent findings from the ADP Research Institute, U.S. employees who trust both their teammates and their leaders are seven times more likely to feel “strongly connected” to their organization.

2. The priority of purpose

Speaking of strong connections, it will be essential for corporations to ensure employees feel a sense of purpose in their work. ADP Research Institute found that U.S. workers who feel they are strongly connected to their employer are 75 times more likely to be fully engaged than those who do not feel connected.

Flexible employment programs can assist to meet staff expectations and empower them to develop professionally. Organizations must also embrace the need for improved diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategies to drive true and measurable progress.

3. The role of reliability

With hybrid work here to stay, businesses now face increasing compliance and operational challenges in addition to existing complexity around staff management, recruiting, and retention. According to ADP’s HR Survey Series with HR Outsourcing, 20% of organizations with 25 to 99 employees say they’re struggling with compliance and regulatory issues. As return-to-work initiatives evolve, this number will likely increase. Consider the need for timely information around COVID-19 testing and vaccine tracking, for example: Depending on employee work locations, organizational mandates and government legislation, the nature of required data may rapidly evolve.

As a result, businesses need access to real-time, reliable people data they can use to make informed decisions, meet compliance expectations, and ensure staff feel safe at work.

4. The impact of innovation

Work is changing rapidly, and organizations need to keep up by removing roadblocks such as cumbersome manual processes or redundant task frameworks. Here, innovation is driven by automation, such as self-service tools that remove time-consuming administrative tasks from HR professionals’ schedules and let them focus on the people that help their businesses succeed.

There’s also a need to facilitate further employee development. According to ADP Research Institute’s “People at Work: A Global Workforce View” report, 28% of staff have taken on new or changing roles as labor markets have shifted and business priorities have evolved. Now, many staff members want to continue their journey by adding new skills and certifications to help broaden their horizons. While this makes employees more valuable, businesses can only reap the benefits if they provide ongoing opportunities for skills development and career growth.

In practice, this can also mean shifting away from hiring to fit a particular role and toward hiring based on skills. Skills-based hiring allow employees to bring their authentic selves to the table and can help to drive innovation among their teams and for the business as a whole.

Leadership and recruiting take a hit

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently surveyed two groups — U.S. workers and HR professionals — to get a picture of the State of the Workplace: how it went in 2021 and what to expect in 2022.

When it comes to successes in 2021, organizations were able to effectively manage the various issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, talent issues were their greatest struggles, although primarily remote organizations were more effective than in-person organizations when it came to both retaining their current employees and recruiting skilled applicants.

Both “HR professionals and U.S. workers told SHRM that their organizations were most effective in navigating the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and related safety practices.” However, several deficiencies were also highlighted, including the lack of developing effective managers and an inability to find and recruit top talent:

  • Only 26% of U.S. workers felt that their organization developed more effective people managers, which was the lowest rated out of 24 areas;
  • Just 25% of HR professionals rated their organization as effective in finding and recruiting talent, which had the lowest ratings from their perspective; and
  • 64% of HR professionals and 47% of U.S. workers rated their organizations as effective in providing affordable and comprehensive health care benefits, which was the second-highest rated area for both groups.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, HR professionals reported that organizations are focusing their efforts on improving employee morale, as well as retaining and recruiting talent:

  • 80% reported that maintaining employee morale and engagement is a top priority;
  • 78% said that retaining talent is an organizational priority;
  • 68% agreed that finding and recruiting talent with the necessary skills is a priority;
  • 62% said navigating COVID-19’s continued impact on workforce and safety practices is a priority;
  • 61% reported developing more effective leaders and people managers is a priority;
  • 81% intend to train people managers on their roles in supporting their organization’s talent management strategy;
  • 78% plan to increase their employee headcount; and
  • 77% intend to improve the soft skills — empathy, compassion, and communication — of their people managers.

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