Nine Employment Trends for 2022
A look back at the continually evolving workplace situation over the past two years has indicated that there are certain employment trends to be aware of in the coming year. Here are nine of the most significant trends which we at HR Service Inc. believe warrant watching closely.
Employment Trend One:
We have all heard the phrase “The Great Resignation” over the past few months. The fact is that employees across the nation and across the world are leaving their jobs in large numbers. It is critical for employers to take steps to identify those things that are driving employees to leave their place of work. Pay is certainly one element of this, but the current employment trend is not entirely based on wages. Increased stress, family, mental health issues, employee burnout, long hours, and shortened tempers from bosses, customers and clients alike are big considerations. Americans have historically lagged behind much of the world is actually taking time away from work, and some sociologists point to this lack of true downtime as a key indicator of flight risk from workers. Employers may want to look at their genuine (versus) written practices with regard to paid time off. Are your staff expected to read emails and take short phone calls while on vacation? Are late-night emails and weekend text messages a norm within your business? Is staffing adequate to address the projected workloads? These are some of the elements for managers to consider, analyze and look at in Q1, in preparation for vacation schedules throughout the year.
Employment Trend Two:
Owner and Manager Burnout
An employment trend that does not get a lot of media exposure is the increased level of burnout and mental stress experienced by business owners and senior management. They are faced with a hurricane of changing regulations, increased customer demand, uncertain supply chain issues, serious staffing shortages, increased cost of doing business, a sense of responsibility toward the families depending on them for support, and similar concerns. As a result, these owners are exhausted and overwhelmed, and their own performance is suffering. It is important for these business owners to fully “unplug” from the business on a periodic basis, and to take steps to re-energize themselves, both for the sake of their own health and for the sustainability of the organization.
Employment Trend Three:
Managing Remote Teams
As remote working becomes more normalized, the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” is coming back to haunt some managers. There are numerous legal cases being filed alleging unequal treatment of remote workers, particularly among younger employees and minorities, who claim that they are passed over for promotions because they are not on-site and able to engage in “water cooler chit-chat” with their bosses and colleagues. Turnover is on the upswing among those who are not only working remotely but are often located in another state and time zone. Managers will need to develop the soft skills to excel at meeting these challenges, such as emotional intelligence, effective digital communications, and increased remote collaboration.
Employment Trend Four:
Health and Safety Issues
Another important employment trend for the coming year involves employee health and safety. Beyond the obvious ramifications of the COVID-19 virus, there is a hidden element in the form of employees deferring non-urgent medical care. This has often resulted in negative health outcomes when a minor condition remains undiagnosed and/or untreated until becoming an emergency situation. A survey conducted by One Medical indicated that over 50% of employees have deferred routine treatments since March 2020, a trend which will both have direct costs in terms of medical care and insurance rates, as well as the indirect costs associated with lost productivity.
Employment Trend Five:
COVID Vaccination Protocols
The COVID vaccination mandates driven by the White House as well as some states are presently under legal scrutiny. Employers are faced with ever-changing directives from the CDC and the World Health Organization. Many states and municipalities have adopted their own internal protocols. It is certain that, whatever the Supreme Court decides, the debate over vaccination will not end there. It is highly likely that new variants of COVID will erupt during 2022, leading the CDC and other medical experts to make new recommendations in response to ever-changing circumstances. We can anticipate new or updated booster and treatment protocols to be announced during the year.
Employment Trend Six:
Workplace Benefits – Remote Working
A key employment trend for the coming year involves enhanced benefits packages. Employees across the nation are asking for better benefits, better health care, more paid time off, and more paid holidays. At the top of this list is allowing working from home to be a permanent norm, a scenario that was not commonplace in 2019. A survey conducted by EY/London of 16,000 workers across the EU showed almost 60% of office workers are demanding the flexibility to work from home more than half of the work week. Given global influence, there is little reason to think expectations in the USA are any different than in Europe.
Employment Trend Seven:
Workplace Benefits – Better Family Benefits Packages
Workers with young families are seeking improved benefits in terms of parental leave, being able to take time off to attend school functions, or taking the children to medical appointments. Congress has been considering a number of programs that will be key for working parents during the next phases of the pandemic, some of which may eventually carry over to the post-pandemic workplace. Employers will need to create a culture that supports working parents and recognize that family-friendly work culture is essential if they want to improve recruitment, drive retention and effect real change in their teams.
Employment Trend Eight:
Obsolescence of Certain Businesses
The world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Emerging technologies and changing business practices will spell the end of many familiar items. Who remembers going to Blockbuster and renting videos on Friday nights? Things that we have already seen include a shift toward smartphone apps instead of public shared touch screens, to reduce the risk of contamination. 3D printers have replaced a number of small manufacturing processes; people can simply program their own 3D devices to create the same items at home. With more people working remotely, the demand for prime office real estate has dropped 80% or more in some cities. Office support services – janitorial, maintenance, and food services – have also been impacted. At the same time, independent mom-and-pop businesses have evolved to fill these gaps in new ways. Business owners and employers need to be looking ahead at what the coming years and decades could bring, and actively plan to avoid being caught unaware.
Employment Trend Nine:
Technology & Training
The final employment trend we see is almost a cliché: evolving technology driving change. In 2019, no one foresaw the exponential growth of virtual meeting technologies, and that trend shows no sign of abating. In the coming years, we will see add-ons to these virtual platforms, and the ability for all to be able to use them. Meeting planning, shared software, and instant language translators appear to be on the horizon. Employers need to plan for these changes and be ready to invest in both the hardware for these new systems as well as in the training costs for their teams to become adept at making full use of the investment.
These are just a few of the employment trends we see continuing into 2022. It is certain that new trends will emerge as the year progresses, in response to situations we cannot foresee yet. If you have any questions or would like guidance in navigating these tricky waters, please contact HR Service.
Prepared by David Norton, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Business Consultant