The end-of-the-year can be a chaotic time for both people leaders and employees. For people leaders, you might be planning a virtual holiday party, choosing employee holiday gifts, or encouraging managers and employees to complete their annual performance reviews. For employees, the end-of-the-year can mean meeting high work expectations before their holiday vacations. Though it's been another year of rapid changes, it's also a time to pause and reflect on your year's people strategy and incorporate lessons learned into the new year.
Though nobody could have predicted the pandemic and how it forever shifted workplace norms and culture, we can proactively look ahead to the employee engagement trends for 2022. If you're looking to get a head start on next year's planning, we've got you covered. Read below for the latest HR trends and how you can start incorporating them to retain and engage your people!
1. Reskilling and Upskilling will Remain Critical to Retaining Top Talent
With new technology continuing to evolve and businesses becoming increasingly more global, the need to acquire and learn new skills to remain competitive, both as a company and as an employee, is critical. The disconnect between employers and the economic demand is real. In fact, only 17% of people reported that their organizations have significantly invested in artificial intelligence reskilling. The good news is that learning and development have a key impact on employee engagement, and employees are hungry to learn. In the UK, for example, Brits invested over 1.3 million hours on LinkedIn Learning at the beginning of the pandemic, a 153% increase from pre-pandemic. It's not uncommon for seasoned employees to get bored of their jobs and start to look elsewhere for career opportunities. So how can you ensure your employees develop critical competencies and stay engaged?
With Cooleaf's employee engagement solution, you can incentivize and reinforce performance wins, like when an employee takes a course or completes a particularly grueling project. You can set employee goals directly in the platform, reward employees with automated digital rewards, and even send out professional development surveys to gather employee feedback on resource and training needs. Afterward, measure your ROI to continually reevaluate your performance and learning and development strategy.
2. Recognition Can and Should be an Integral Part of your Employee Experience
Just like with technology, employees expect the workplace experience to evolve alongside them. Gone are the days where competitive pay and benefits were enough to attract top talent; now, staff expect their employee experiences to be authentic and personable. Though there's nothing wrong with sending thank you emails and ecards, employees want to know how their work contributes to their organization's overall mission and vision. In fact, values-based recognition programs, or programs that tie recognition to company values, are shown to be more effective (90%) than recognition programs not tied to values (67%).
Cooleaf empowers you to boost your company's culture through our recognition platform. Recognitions are public and tied to company values so that your employees can celebrate everyone's wins, no matter where they're working from. With recognition and positive culture being key reasons why employees choose to stay at a company, the power of recognition cannot be overstated.
3. Hybrid/Remote Work is Here to Stay
Remote work has brought on an onslaught of benefits for many people, like reduced commute time, more flexibility and work-life balance, and the need to no longer dress up. With offices now beginning to open up, studies revealed that returning to the office full-time comes at a major cost: employee well-being. According to new data from BambooHR, a third of employees report that they feel worse in the office than at their lowest point during COVID-19. If that wasn't jarring enough, 61% of workers stated that they hoped for more in-person collaboration but only 49% reported experiencing this. 54% of employees thought productivity would increase, but only 35% actually experienced this. 37% expected an improved company culture, yet only 21% stated this happened.
It's clear that there's a growing disconnect between employer and employee expectations, but how can you solve this? One way is to listen to your employees' feedback through pulse surveys. Workers want to choose when and where they work best. Consider opening the office for those that want to work there daily or on a hybrid schedule, and allow remote work to continue for those that opt-in. You can also invite remote workers to go to the office a few times a year for key events, like town hall meetings, to maintain a sense of community and team spirit.
If you decide to continue hybrid/remote work, consider investing in a virtual platform like Cooleaf which offers virtual team building, wellness, recognition, and built-in communications. Your people will appreciate you meeting them where they are while still experiencing team bonding on-the-go.
4. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) will be your Strategic Partner
Employees are no longer afraid to take a stand on tough issues, and with the rise of the Black Lives Matters movement in 2020, DEIB will still be top of mind in 2022. Despite 25% of HR leaders stating that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging will be a top priority next year, the majority of organizations are still new to integrating diversity and inclusion in their people strategy.
Though providing DEIB trainings to all your employees, like cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias sessions is a great first step, the key to moving your DEIB strategy forward is embedding it in all aspects of your organization. Consider how diversity and inclusion can be incorporated into your company's mission and values and how those values would come to life on a daily basis. Hold leaders accountable for their actions, and most importantly, listen to your people. If an employee finds something offensive or has a suggestion on how to strengthen your organization, consider it.
From recruitment, to onboarding, to performance management, DEIB needs to be part of all your people processes to truly take root.For extra recognition, you can also plan fun and meaningful employee events around DEIB holidays. To keep track of all the DEIB holidays throughout the year, maintain it on a downloadable holiday calendar for DEIB. It's important to note, however, that DEIB is not a one-time event, and can and should be celebrated outside of special occasions! Aligning with your employees and listening to their ideas, either through a town hall, DEIB pulse survey, or through employee resource groups (ERGS) will be a critical tool in 2022 and beyond.
5. Workplace Mental Health and Wellness will Continue to be in the Spotlight
Employee wellbeing is no longer a nice-to-have. From yoga at work, to meditation apps, to employee assistance programs (EAPs), mental health benefits are and will continue to be important to attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent. Though employee burnout has been high throughout the pandemic, about two-thirds of employees believe that their workplace supports their mental health.
In 2022, the push for wellness at work will likely extend beyond mental health as employees expect their employers to support their mental, financial, and physical health. Employees want financial wellbeing services, yet just 13% state that their companies have dedicated resources to helping their financial health.
Whether your employees feel burdened financially or personally, it can be challenging to pinpoint the root cause of employee stress. Consider a platform like Cooleaf to discover areas of improvement, incentivize healthy behaviors, and plan year-round wellness initiatives.
We hope some of these insights inspire you! How are you incorporating these trends into your 2022 people strategy?