“The Great Resignation” is still making headlines across America and around the globe. A year ago, we hinted at it in Prediction #2 in our blog for 2021 trends, but candidly, we didn’t quite foresee the mass exodus it has turned out to be.
As we prepare to turn the page on another year, our oracle sets his gaze upon 2022.
Here are three fearless predictions for business in the New Year.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, INCLUSION and BELONGING
America was experiencing a peak in social justice activism right before the Covid pandemic began. The driving forces that frustrate minority groups are still around, even when the 24-hour news cycle focuses on other headlines. If, and when, the Coronavirus is no longer the lead story, America will return to unfinished business concerning diversity and equity in the workplace.
President Biden issued two Executive Orders in the first six months of holding office to affirm racial justice and civil rights for all and to ensure that the Federal government will “be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility” in its hiring practices.
For publicly traded companies, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced significant revisions to its reporting designed to “improve disclosures for investors.” Following the paraphrased Peter Drucker adage, “What gets measured gets done,” HR departments will be asked to provide more documentation on affirmative actions regarding recruitment, promotion, and pay among underserved communities.
“I am particularly supportive of the increased focus on human capital disclosures,” says SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, “which for various industries and companies can be an important driver of long-term value.”
Companies are encouraged to design new recruitment processes that focus on underrepresented groups being evaluated by a diverse hiring panel to improve opportunities for individuals who have been adversely affected in the past. This calls for appeals to broader talent pools and a greater sensitivity to detect bias in the selection process. For example, people with neurocognitive differences are often dismissed in the screening process because conventional interview questions can seem vague and confusing to them. However, neurodivergent employees possess gifts and perspectives that can benefit operations in many work environments. Employers should seek first to identify the candidate’s skillset and then offer adaptations and specialized training to prepare the neurodiverse employee to thrive in their new work environment.
Recruitment and selection are only a part the equation in DEIB. Diverse workplaces are normalizing conversations about what it means for employees of all ethnic, gender, and religious groups to feel included and psychologically safe at work. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) bring coworkers together in a safe place to talk openly about what could be done to improve work conditions for marginalized groups. Often, in this marketplace of ideas, new leadership talent emerges, which contributes to another component of DEIB; fairness in promotion and compensation.
In addition to the internal communication and processes surrounding DEIB, corporations will continue to craft external statements on social justice as well as social responsibility initiatives.
TECHNOLOGY and INFORMATION
Business will continue to lean into technology upgrades to coordinate the efforts of remote work groups. Since water cooler conversations are no longer possible in the virtual environment, social apps like Slack, GroupMe and MS Teams will connect co-workers for work-related and non-work-related conversations. One caveat: friendly banter can easily be misconstrued without tone, facial expressions or body language adding context to the message. Misunderstandings should be clarified quickly with a phone conversation or video call to maintain good rapport.
Cloud-based collaboration, project management tools, and automations will continue to streamline operations in all facets of business by reducing overlap and duplication of efforts. Companies who have not included IT in the C-suite before now may be looking to add virtual/fractional CIOs next year. Like other skilled positions, the talent pool is not geographically bound to the company’s headquarters. Who is as apt to handle tasks and overcome challenges via networking as your IT expert?
Video libraries and virtual conferences will replace live training sessions in the onboarding process. Companies continue to build out training materials in short, digestible video clips which new hires can access by PC or mobile device from home, the office, or anywhere. Virtual trainings prove to be easier to host and more cost effective, and video-on-demand accommodates all employees’ schedules.
AGILITY and ADAPTABILITY
Assuming cases from Covid variants are eventually slowed to manageable levels, companies will have to define “the new normal” in a post-Covid world.
What will it look like when an employee who’s worked from home for nearly the past two years gets re-immersed into the workplace? Time and tasks, both personal and professional, have blended fluidly for the remote worker. Will the office afford the same rhythms of energy management, shifting between producing and recharging at the employee’s choosing? How much patience will peers practice with co-workers whose cadence is out of sync with theirs? HR managers may find it necessary to review soft skills again to promote harmony among employees who have not experienced the friction of working in a community for months.
In 2021, America experienced a great movement among workers. Many exited the workforce, but many found new employment opportunities. Some are yet to have a face-to-face interaction with their peers. Some organizations may decide that fully remote teams make the most sense and never return to a central location, even if it were determined “safe” to do so. These companies will revise their systems for onboarding and performance management to accommodate a workforce that is distributed across multiple locations.
Talent retention strategies will be as important as ever in the coming year. According to survey results from Paychex, “the Great Resignation” skews toward Millennials and Gen Z, those who are more likely to be in the lower salary quartiles. Pay raises, retention bonuses, flexible working arrangements, and health/wellness benefits are cited most when employees are asked about loyalty incentives. “More specifically, 42 percent of employees feel that a 10-15 percent salary increase would entice them to stay at their organization.” (Paychex.com blog)
Communication between manager and direct reports will be paramount in 2022, but especially so for key performers whose resignation would be a costly loss. “Stay Interviews” are a new trend in corporations. Rather than conducting “Exit Interviews” after ties have been severed, managers are proactively asking their top talent for candid input on what the company needs to correct to secure their commitment for another year or more. Organizations must do more than simply give employees a forum; managers need to address its workers’ concerns to affirm they are heard and valued. Failure to act in 2022 would most likely lead to frustration, mistrust and a sure resignation in the following year.
With so many vacancies to fill, hiring managers will be conducting cost-benefit analyses of recruiting external talent versus promoting from within. Incentivizing employees to stay with profit sharing, competitive comp, a promotion, or professional development may pay equal dividends at a lower cost than raiding a competitor’s shop. Whether promoting from within or hiring outside talent, it’s vital to select an individual who fills the gap in your organization and assimilates well in the company culture. It may sound like finding a unicorn, but our experienced HR professionals are quite good at it.
So, there you have it, our fearless predictions for 2022. How accurate? Time will tell.
In the meantime, our entire staff at inclineHR thank you for the relationship we enjoyed with you in 2021 and wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
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