The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we view work, bringing challenges—some new, some old but with a twist—to 2022. Here are the top human resources (HR) challenges for 2022 and some strategies to manage them.
1. Change Management
In 2022, we’ll still be seeing the effects of the drastic worldwide changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, from the masking debate to the rise of remote work. The challenge of change management is not so much about the details of the changes, but rather how HR can help employees deal with the changes, whether it’s having to communicate electronically instead of looking over the cubicle wall or coping with insecurity about a potential merger.
Meeting the Challenge of Change Management
When dealing with change management, the key is communication and focusing on the present to gauge employee uncertainty and develop employee confidence in the organization. Holding regular staff meetings with all employees, even remote ones, is a start, as is having an open-door policy. Employee surveys can also help you get a quick pulse on your teams. Managers should be encouraged to touch base with employees regularly.
2. Talent Attraction
In September 2021, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs. The “Great Resignation” created a crisis for businesses, not only because of the loss of workers but also because of the new challenges of attracting new hires. Studies are showing that the Great Resignation was the result of “pandemic epiphanies” that people had about the nature of work and what they wanted from life. Thus, you may not be able to attract new talent with the same old tactics.
Meeting the Challenge of Attracting Talent
Over half of unemployed Americans surveyed said that they plan on looking for a new job in 2022. The candidates will be there, but you’ll need to be ready to meet their needs. This can mean allowing flexible work hours or remote work part of the week, adding benefits that promote health and wellness, offering leadership and work skills development, and promoting diversity in the workplace.
The gig economy is growing, so consider outsourcing some jobs or hiring freelancers. Also, work more closely with local employment offices and take part in internship programs or apprenticeship programs as a way to develop talented and faithful employees from the start.
3. Leadership Development
According to Forbes, “In 2022, HR leaders must deploy strategies that are designed to equip future leaders for promotional opportunities.” While not listed as a factor in the Great Resignation, historically more than 50% of employees quit their jobs to escape a bad boss. Beyond that, however, strong leadership is needed to help companies weather the changes coming in 2022 and beyond.
Meeting the Challenge of Leadership Development
Soft skills are vital for good leaders. For example, Forbes identifies empathy as the No. 1 required trait for 2022 and beyond. While you can learn tips from books and classes, such skills are best learned in practice. Identifying people within your company with budding leadership skills and mentoring them is a good place to start. Also, work with existing leaders to improve their skills in communication and caring as well as job-specific skills.
4. Workforce Training
According to Forbes, many HR leaders have a hard time keeping up with employee skill training to meet the changing needs of their companies. This is no surprise: During the pandemic, companies adopted new technologies up to 40 times faster than in previous years, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. Training is vital to help retain good employees and make them more qualified for promotions or cross-hiring to new positions.
Meeting the Challenge of Workforce Training
It may seem ironic that software is the solution for the problem of training on new software. However, training software can provide ready-made courses for a variety of topics, from compliances to job-specific skills. Ask your HRIS or PEO provider if it offers these. Not every solution is expensive; many software companies offer training webinars online, and there are a plethora of how-to videos on YouTube and elsewhere.
Training should be part of the onboarding process. Checklists and skills tests can make it easy to ensure employees are up to par. Mentoring is also a great way to help employees develop advanced skills and soft skills while making themselves more promotable.
5. Employee Retention
It costs anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 to hire and onboard a new employee. Retention, therefore, is as much a focus as talent attraction in 2022. This becomes an added challenge as you may have to offer candidates more in terms of pay and benefits. To retain employees, you need to treat them fairly. That means extending some of the benefits you offer new hires to your existing workforce.
Meeting the Challenge of Employee Retention
The biggest factor for employee retention is employee engagement. You can achieve this by building a team spirit, keeping employees invested in the mission or the company, and ensuring frequent and meaningful communication at all levels. Learn more about engaging employees and engaging remote employees.
Structured onboarding has been shown to increase employee retention. Check out our article on the best employee onboarding software.
6. Diversity Building
A Gartner survey of 200 HR leaders found that 36% struggle with diversity issues in their workforce, especially in mid- and senior-level positions. A diverse workforce is beneficial to companies, leading to increased productivity and innovation—plus, many candidates consider it a must-have quality for any company they consider applying to.
Meeting the Challenge of Building Diversity
Start by reaching out to diversity job boards when seeking new hires. Next, ensure your hiring and promotion procedures are fair and open. (Get some tips in our article on diversity hiring.) Finally, be sure your workplace promotes equality and respect for diversity—and that this is reflected on your website because potential candidates will look.
7. Healthy Work Culture Promotion
People are concerned about their health, in and out of work. That means more than placing a bottle of sanitizer at the door. Over 80% of employees said employee wellness programs are important, contributing to attracting new hires, retaining employees, boosting morale, and more.
Meeting the Challenge of Developing a Healthy Work Culture
Adopting or expanding your employee wellness program is a good place to start. Our article on employee wellness offers 70 ideas of varying costs. Encouraging work-life balance, finding ways to reduce stress in the workplace, and promoting a collaborative work environment are also key.
8. Remote Work
If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that remote work is possible and, in many cases, just as good as having everyone gathered in an office. Plus, people (especially millennials and Gen Z) prefer remote work. However, this is going to present challenges to HR:
- What jobs can be done remotely? Will there be a hybrid of remote and in-office work?
- How do we ensure employees get regular feedback?
- Do we enforce “office hours”—and how?
- What technologies do we provide remote employees?
- Do we adjust the salary for remote employees based on location?
- Do we pay travel for remote employees for training or company-mandated meetings?
Meeting the Challenge of Remote Work
Adapting to remote workers is not a challenge for HR alone. You will need to be a voice for your people as IT and Finance discuss the best software for communications, video conferencing, and project management. As companies move from location-based pay, you may need to argue for a reworking of all salaries to ensure existing employees are fairly treated. You may also need to teach your people how to work with remote employees—from how to use new software to how to touch base with a remote worker frequently without micromanaging.
The pandemic has forever changed how we approach work. From a desire for remote work opportunities to the explosion of business technologies to the need for leadership that is more engaged and empathetic, HR will face a lot of challenges in 2022. However, each challenge brings opportunities to grow, to improve, and to develop an even stronger and more engaged company that’s future-forward.