HR Insights and News

20th January 2022

Top 5 HR Trends to Navigate in 2022

Written by Caleb Baker

As a result of the pandemic, we are now seeing the workforce and workplaces transform at a pace we never expected. We’ve witnessed HR evolve from merely a support function to a strategic leader capable of making impactful and critical business decisions. Moving forward, HR’s role will continue to develop as it builds a roadmap for employers to navigate for a progressive 2022 focused on stakeholder capitalism. With HR taking the lead, here are 5 important priorities to maximise.

1. Embrace Employee Well-being

Employee well-being is non-negotiable and companies who fail or refuse to act risk losing business and talent. 

Many companies are implementing well-being initiatives to improve the physical health, mental health, lifestyle, work-life balance and career wellness of their employees.

According to an October 2021 report by Willis Towers Watson, employers in the Asia Pacific region are looking to be more strategic in their approach to employee well-being. In the UK, Bupa Global reported that British employers will increase their spending on employee mental health and well-being by nearly 18% this year. In the US, recent reports suggest that other than a higher salary, robust well-being benefits are also key offerings among talents. Employees are no longer willing to compromise, they want better employee well-being initiatives paired with progressive employee experience.

2. Flexibility, not just Work From Home (WFH)

Employees these days are asking for more work flexibility to improve their overall lifestyle.

Work flexibility is more than just working from home or remote working. To have work flexibility is to allow employees to define their hours and decide the place they want to work from where they feel more engaged and proactive.

According to a survey study by Gartner in 2021 with respondents from APAC, Europe and the US, work flexibility was proven to drive productivity. Other reasons listed for increased productivity are less or no time commuting to work, change in workspace or location, less time spent in meetings, and more. A flexible work arrangement can be beneficial for most employees especially for working mums and single parents. With flexibility, they can efficiently manage and handle work, home life and childcare. They won’t have to sacrifice their job just so they can take care of their children. Work flexibility can be implemented in different ways and it is important for employers to determine what works for their employees and what doesn’t.

3. Emphasis on S in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG)

ESG is a big deal nowadays, especially in the boardroom. 

HR’s role is generally more aligned with S, or social, which is all about the societal impact that the organisation makes as a result of their operations. How can organisations better support women who are more vulnerable to employment downturns? How can they better represent mature employees? Do they prioritise representation and inclusion across all levels? These are just some of the questions we need to ask ourselves to start the discussion on how we can better support our employees inside and outside of the office.

Giants in different industries are injecting more time and money into ESG strategies. PayPal for example is going big on helping its employees become more financially secure. In a recent episode of McKinsey’s Inside the Strategy Room podcast Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Franz Paasche said that they established a standard for livable wages for their employees and made adjustments. Franz explained that it was important they made sure that their employees had sufficient money after paying essential fees and taxes. Now, there is not one PayPal employee in the US with an estimated net disposable income below 18%. They are looking to reach 20% this year. They also reduced the cost of healthcare and provided financial security education to employees.

ESG is not just about the sustainability of a company, it is also about the sustainability and stability of employees, no matter their background.

4. Human Capital, the Age of Transparency

The future of work is transparency that will eventually lead to better accountability and responsibility among business leaders and executives.

Last year, we saw the SEC crackdown on the poor disclosure practices of video game company Activision Blizzard. The company and several senior executives were subpoenaed for mishandling complaints of sexual misconduct and discrimination in the workplace. According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC launched an investigation to determine if company executives including CEO Bobby Kotick disclosed information about the allegations to investors properly and timely. When the news broke out, Activision Blizzard employees launched a petition urging Kotick to resign. So far, Kotick remains and he said that he will consider stepping down if the issues surrounding sexual misconduct and discrimination were not resolved. In recent reports, it is said that Kotick is planning to step down after Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard for USD$69 billion.

It is not just the US, the agenda of establishing better human capital disclosure is going global. HR is at the forefront in encouraging its company and executives to be more responsible when it comes to disclosing vital employee and workplace information.

5. Future-proofing

Reskilling and upskilling employees in all disciplines continue to be a key focus for all organisations. 

The innovation of how we work is not slowing down. New roles and methods of working are being introduced and not all employees are able to keep up. Nowadays, job insecurity is rampant with millions of employees unsure of their future in their chosen field of profession. Employees are demanding opportunities to grow their skills and expand their professional scope. Some companies and even governments are looking to launch reskilling programs focused on improving and teaching AI-related skills. In Australia, the Federal Government committed AUD$500 million, to be matched by State and Territory Governments, to the JobTrainer Fund that aims to upskill or reskill job seekers including young people and even school leavers. Other countries are doing the same including the US, UK and more.

Reskilling and upskilling will drive career mobility for professionals, which can eventually mitigate the fallout of The Great Resignation we are presently seeing.

Written by Caleb Baker

Caleb Baker (Cal) joined Will in Oct 2019 as Managing Director - Strategic Growth, Technology and Talent Solutions. Cal leads the growth agenda focussing on the design of Will’s products and services strategy across the group. Caleb is passionate about building group wide capability to deliver progressive talent solutions through innovative service designs and the adoption of leading HR technology.

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