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Fireside chat: the workforce trends we can expect to see in 2022 with @HRCurator

As businesses across the world look to transition from survival to revival, there is a distinct smell of optimism in the air. Boardroom conversations have shifted from ‘what if’ to ‘what now’, and organisations can finally implement new processes and start to transform the way they work for the better.

But is this all just optimism? Have we reached our capacity for transformation? Is now the time to hold back and take a measured approach? Roubler recently caught up with Dave Millner (@HRCurator) to find out what trends we can expect to shape workforces in 2022.

So, Dave, where do you think we are at right now in terms of workforce management and HR?

Let’s be honest, we’ve had a really tough couple of years. I used to talk a lot about the future of work, but I don’t like to use that phrase anymore; I now talk about the now of work. 2020 was a year of resetting, we just had to deal with the challenges in front of us. 2021 was a period of renewal, many managed to get back to some kind of normality, but others were still held back due to uncertainty. 2022 is the year of thriving, there is a much more positive attitude among leaders and employees, and I feel like now is the time positive change can really be achieved.

What are the top trends you see happening in 2022?

Firstly, I think we are seeing some really interesting trends in the talent marketplace. The great resignation has hit America quite badly, with more people resigning from jobs than we have ever seen before. It’s expected that other parts of the world will follow a similar pattern as employees have spent a lot of time reviewing their circumstances throughout the pandemic.

Along with the great resignation, there is also a surplus of jobs. We’re seeing this particularly in places such as Australia where they have closed their borders for such an extended period, there are no tourists to pick up jobs in retail, hospitality and farming. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the knock-on effects of Brexit have left us with an array of vacant jobs, you just have to look at the recent lorry driver crisis which made headlines throughout December.

I also think employee activism and the rise of conscientious employees is another interesting trend to monitor in the talent marketplace.

More than ever before, employees are realising what they want and don’t want from a workplace, which is forcing employers to really review their business and make it a place people want to work.

This influences decisions around hybrid work, benefits packages or even transparency around values. If you look at the likes of Lush in the retail world, many people are drawn to working there due to their personal values aligning with the brand’s values.

The second trend I see having a big impact in 2022 is workforce motivation. This is a major contributing factor to trends such as the great resignation and employee activism and will be something employers will have to keep a keen eye on in 2022 and beyond.

We have an overwhelmed workforce who has had to deal with changing work patterns, different processes, different ways of dealing with customers and now an increased demand to create a completely new customer experience.

Particularly in consumer-facing roles, to provide an exceptional customer experience, the employee needs to be having a good experience themselves. Employee wellbeing needs to be front and centre of your strategic decision making, whether it’s exploring hybrid work, tailoring employee benefits packages or being a better leader. One of the most critical things for employee wellbeing is your leadership and management capabilities.

Equally, employee engagement will be an important pillar for a lot of businesses. The underpinning challenge here is trust, which again is linked to leadership and management capabilities. Employees need to feel trusted and empowered to be engaged.

There are relatively simple and quick resolutions to driving employee engagement, and I think implementing the right technology is at the heart of it.

Implementing the correct technology has the power to engage employees, whether it’s through enabling them to manage their work schedules, or having visibility over where and when they are clocking into shifts from, technology can help remove barriers of doubt, start to build trust and drive engagement.

The final trend which I think will have a big impact on employers this year follows a similar pattern to the previously mentioned trends, but it’s career progression for employees. Employees have had a turbulent time recently, and now they are reviewing their situation and asking “is there a different or better way of me earning a living”.

As a result, employers have got to be relentless about the growth and learning of individuals to keep them engaged.

We need to realise that not everyone wants to be an executive or a leader, but everybody wants to improve.

We need to make sure that we have career pathways, progression routes and different options for employees. This is achieved through personalised learning and can be facilitated by technology such as Roubler and its integration with the professional development platform Go1.

What is the biggest shift HR teams need to make in 2022?

I think HR teams need to shift their priorities, I’ve simplified these into three core areas that need to be focused on – data, design and digital.

I think for our function to truly be respected, we need to become far more data-driven. We need to be more aligned with the financial and commercial challenges of the organisation so we can transition from focusing on reducing costs to actually driving revenue and boosting the bottom line.

There are only so many costs we can eliminate, but income is infinite.

We need to leverage data on our people, like profitability per employee and people analytics in general. We need to make sure we are rostering not just the right number of staff, but also the best performing staff to maximise our people potential and commercial capabilities.

With regards to ‘design’, HR has always aspired to be strategic, but I think now we have the opportunity to really channel it and design the function and organisation of the future. The resources and technology are widely available for us to access and regardless of budget, there is a solution that can be implemented and will make a difference.

I think every function has got to think – is this the way that we should be operating? Or is there a better way of doing it?

The past two years have been a wake-up call, we need to make sure we are better planned and much more organised for outcomes and events we may not have anticipated. We also have to make sure that the transformation process is clearly aligned with a roadmap for automation, upskilling and ensuring that we’re measuring this.

Finally, technology is going to continue to change at enormous speed and we need to make sure that we’re not just responding, but ahead of the curve. We need to improve our commercial acumen and digital proficiency to understand what we are looking for, how it will benefit the wider business and how we can measure it, so its as much about individual development as it is technology – which I guess feeds back into the data and design aspects of the priority shifts.

To hear more of Dave’s thoughts around key topics such as hybrid working, the people function of the future and how to deal with resistance from business owners or the C-suite, make sure you check out our on-demand webinar Facilitating growth: workplace trends we expect to see in 2022.

Dave Millner headshot
Dave Millner
Dave Millner (CPsychol, FCIPD, ACIB) has over 30 years of HR consulting experience with global and multi-national based organisations. Dave specialises in offering these organisations effectiveness-based solutions, focusing on future-proofing their business. A key influencer across a broad range of HR topics, Dave has amassed a following of 30k+ on Twitter under the alias @HRCurator. In 2020, Dave published his first book ‘Introduction to People Analytics’. In 2021, he was recognised as HR Magazine’s #16 Most Influential Thinker, and he is one of Engage Employee’s Forward Thinkers for 2021 and 2022.
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