While a new year is just a calendar change in practice, it’s symbolic of fresh opportunities and new beginnings. Calendar years take on their own form of anthropomorphism and their own identity in the collective social mindset.

2020 was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and had a massive effect on all aspects of our life. 2021 was a continuation as society started to push back and develop new ways to exist in the face of adversity. 2022 is young, and it doesn’t have a clear identity yet, but based on the last few years, we can predict some trends.

Many experts are optimistic that 2022 will bring a vast array of positive workplace trends after a difficult 2020 and 2021. Visier declared 2022 as the “Age of the Employees” and expects a shift towards quality of life and work-life balance, and they aren’t the only ones thinking this way.

“The massive upheavals of 2020 and 2021 made it clear that the most successful companies are the ones that evolve to retain and grow their most valuable asset: their people.”- Visier

Jeanne Meister covered the top 2022 HR workplace trends for Forbes. We’ll review three common themes shared by these trends.

Prioritizing employee well-being

If 2022 is truly the “Age of the Employees” it’s because worker preference matters more than ever before. 2020 shook up worker stability by forcing company shutdowns and layoffs, causing many workers to take a hard look at what they want from their professional life. This led to the Great Resignation, or the Great Reshuffling, as workers sought new opportunities that better aligned with their wants and needs.

Meister believes this focus means organizations need to not only care about the well-being of their employees at work but increase their overall quality of life as well. She cites a Paychex and Future Workplace study that found 82% of workers polled listed well-being as a key factor when deciding where to apply. We previously found that workers value a culture of value more than a high salary, and this trend will likely magnify going forward. Companies willing to invest in their employees’ quality of life will have an easier time attracting top-tier talent.

Hybrid work becoming the new norm

Flexibility is one of the biggest keys to success during the pandemic, and the switch to remote and hybrid work is a testament to that. Switching away from the traditional 40 hour, in-office workweek has been a breath of fresh air for many, and flexible work models are here to stay. Meister illustrates this with an Accenture survey that found a whopping 83% of workers prefer a hybrid model and that 63% of ‘high-growth’ companies have switched to a productivity anywhere model.

In wake of the high amount of out of office employees, Visier believes companies will value productivity output over hourly input. Without many of the time-wasting distractions an office job can have, employees can finish their work in a fraction of the time. Why should they be punished for doing quality work more quickly?

Because of this, as well as a shortage of quality workers, Harvard Business Review believes companies will switch to a shorter workweek.

“While some companies are able to compete for talent through compensation alone, others don’t have the financial resources to do so. Rather than trying to win the war for talent by increasing compensation, we are seeing some employers reduce the number of hours worked by employees and keeping compensation flat.“ –Brian Kropp and Emily Rose McRae (HBR)

A jump in skills-based hiring

The trajectory of the average worker’s career path looks much different today than it did 20 years ago. Employees aren’t staying at the same company for 40 years anymore. The pandemic exemplified that, thanks to the Great Resignation/Reshuffling. This means that tangible skills are becoming more valuable than set experience.

We recently covered the most in-demand skills employers seek in 2022, including communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and time management skills. Glassdoor covered a list of companies who are now hiring based on these types of skills rather than set degrees, including Google, Costco, and Hilton. Meister believes this trend will benefit both external and internal hires.

“Skills based hiring expands the prospective talent pool but also allows internal employees opportunities greater visibility into their career mobility by providing them with educational pathways for specific industries and job functions.” – Meister

Technological improvements make life easier for workers, and both Meister and HBR discuss the implications automated tasks have on the workplace. Meister discusses that this creates a new space for a new set of skills and new types of positions. HBR covers the management side, believing that with many managers now able to automate mundane tasks they can focus on the human side of their jobs.

Wrap up

The data used by the above experts shows that employee preference matters more now than ever before, and smart organizations are adapting to worker desires. Companies willing to prioritize their employees’ well-being, offer flexible work models, and prioritize employee skills over arbitrary experience levels will do best in the proposed Age of Employees.

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