As 2021 winds down, I have a few predictions of the human resources trends for employers to keep top of mind in 2022.
Employers finding ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion will continue to be a vital area of focus. While some employers have drafted or adopted DEI policies in recent years, it’s important to cultivate a workplace that practices what these values preach. DEI will undoubtedly be at the top of many organizations’ priority lists next year, as they face pressures — both internal and external — to become more diverse, as well as cognizant of the issues that inhibit the creation of safe, respectful and fair working environments for all employees.
Many companies have been struggling with how to make remote working part of their business, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 forced their hands. Over the course of the pandemic, questions about whether employees would be returning to the office or working from home permanently — or a hybrid of the two — only increased. While some white-collar employees have already returned to the office, variants of concern, such as Delta and Omicron, continue to cast uncertainty on the timing of a broader return.
Employers must communicate their strategies moving forward and engage employees in the decision-making process. For employees who have benefited from working from home, their desire for continued remote working options may have them seeking opportunities elsewhere should a mandatory return to office be in their futures.
Another topic of ongoing discussion in 2022 will be how companies plan to redefine communication in a hybrid work environment. Some employees may choose to return to the office, while others may decide to work from home. When physically divided, new habits and patterns — both positive and negative — can emerge. How will employers manage this new dynamic to ensure productivity and healthy communications in their workplaces?
A focus on mental health tops the list in any year. However, in the early wake of the pandemic, fear, anxiety and isolation escalated dramatically, shining an even brighter light on the need for increased mental-health support. The need to foster improved wellness and self-care within organizations will continue for years to come.
Alongside mental health, work-life balance has been and will continue to be on the radar. Although the pandemic might have brought a greater sense of equilibrium to some employees, it had the opposite effect on many others. In North America, working tirelessly — with no time for vacation or even sick days — seems to be glorified. But this can also lead to a host of negatives for your organization. Ontario’s new right-to-disconnect law is a step in the right direction, but it’s ultimately up to employers to start a deeper conversation and champion a more positive work-life balance next year and beyond.