The pandemic has taught us to be closer to our people: Five key predictions for 2022

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Farai Mugabe, Content & Research, The HR Congress

Growing employee apathy calls for business leaders to invest in people-centric experience. HR should step up and take up the role of the HR champion where they drive change through listening to employees and creating an enabling work environment.

The global COVID 19 pandemic has taught employers to be much closer to their employees as companies manage business disruption, burnout, deaths, resignations, and productivity issues. To be able to compete in the market and outperform competitors, companies are expected to drive employee engagement and culture. The pandemic has taught us that it is people who make a difference in such times. Analysts from The Workforce Institute at UKG give us five predictions for the year 2022 which call for companies to be closer to their people.1

 As said by global thought leader Josh Bersin indicates, the global COVID 19 pandemic now requires a ‘Big Reset’ in our people management practices. As we seek to manage the ‘Big Reset’, The Workforce Institute at UKG indicates that companies must develop an employee-centric workplace.2

The opening of the year 2022 marks at least 2 years into the global COVID 19 which has caused a total shift in the manner in which work is organized. Decades ago, very few predicted that we would be wearing masks as we go out in the streets. Very few believed that at some point in time, governments will force people to stay indoors to contain COVID 19 infections.

Changing employee expectations

The psychological expectations that employees have towards their employers have greatly changed. The Workforce Institute at UKG indicates that there are huge changes in employee expectations towards employers.1

The great resignation has shown that employees have now more power of choice about who they offer their expertise, how they offer expertise, how much they get paid for their expertise and when they get paid for the expertise.

This on its own has led to employers being required to rethink and refocus on how they can retain and manage talent. Employers should be more creative and focus on different ways to manage talent.

According to The Workforce Institute at UKG, higher salaries, work flexibility, hybrid work, family-related leave, care benefits, and digital employee experience are likely going to help employers in winning the talent war.1 This means that the psychological contract has changed after the COVID 19 pandemic. Employees expect more from their employers as a way to retain and get the best out of the former.

Growing employee apathy calls for business leaders to invest in people-centric experience

According to the Workforce Institute at UKG, there is a need for business to focus their energy on developing a people-centric experience at workplaces. “People aren’t built to be resilient for years end yet the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to grapple with continuously interrupted personal lives, career-pathing, and planning for the future.” Humans are naturally emotional beings.1 They cry, feel sad, smile, feel happy and get angry due to forces from the external environment. These can have an impact on the way humans behave and interact with others at work.

HR and business leaders have to be able to understand human emotions and understand how they influence employee engagement. HR should step up and take up the role of the HR champion where they drive change through listening to employees and creating an enabling work environment. Employee feedback platforms such as employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, one on one meetings, team meetings, regular calls, and messages are increasingly becoming important in the year 2022.

According to The Workforce Institute at UKG, employee wellness is now becoming increasingly more important.1 HR leaders are now expected to value “the holistic health and wellbeing of the whole employee, including physical health, mental and emotional support, and financial wellness.” Employee wellness programs and initiatives to look at include but are not limited to work breaks, health checks, workplace vaccinations, financial wellness training, workplace sports such as company-sponsored marathons, and health-tech tools such as Fitbits.

Manager training on employee caring and investing in mentorship programs

According to Gallup, manager caring is a critical element that drives employee engagement and productivity.3 As said by research by the Society for Human Resource Management,  more than 84% of employees in the USA resign because of bad managers. 4 A good manager understands employees and ensures that his or her people become better. The Workforce Institute at UKG, predicts that in 2022 manager training on soft skills such as emotional support and mentorship programs are going to become more critical in war to retain talent.

Compliance issues likely to impact on employer branding

The world has now changed and so has legislation across Europe, the USA, Africa, and Asia. Various regulatory issues have arisen in areas such as paternity leave, vaccinations, workers’ rights, data protection, remote work, minimum wages, and AI usage. Companies are going to be grappled with compliance issues and companies have to adjust their work policies on promotion, remuneration, leave administration, data management, and AI. According to The Workforce Institute at UKG, companies have to expect more issues on legislation and compliance, if they are to top the list as an employer of choice.

Last year, Portugal announced that managers are not allowed to email and message staff outside working citing “right to rest.”5 Recently the Canadian Marketers Association called for a new Canadian privacy law that is focused on modernizing consumer privacy protection and supporting the digital economy. The Canadian Marketers Association cited the European Union (EU)’s privacy law as containing lots of pitfalls that Canada must avoid. 6

Environmental, Social, and Governance  (ESG) issues as a ‘make-or-break asset’

According to The Workforce Institute at UKG, the world looks as if it is continuing to look increasingly divisive and politicized. Several key socio-economic issues such as vaccination programs, safety, racial justice, inequality, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and diversity have been discussed in boardrooms over the past two years. Given this situation, in 2022 we are likely to see HR departments and people leaders focusing more on Environmental, Social, and Governance  (ESG)issues. Society, governments, employees, and social groups will keep pushing for more action and accountability on ESG and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). THE Workforce Insititute at UKG indicates that ESG issues are a ’make-or-break asset’ that has a direct impact on growth and stability during the year 2022. 1

In today’s super-volatile, uncertain times, people matter even more so. Organizations need to be much closer to their people, show genuine care, and understand them if they are to win in the marketplace. 



12022 Annual Workplace Predictions from The Workplace Institute at UKG, by The Workforce Institute at UKG, The Workforce Institute at UKG

2Big Reset: Change Agility Playbook Just Published, by Josh Bersin

3What is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It? by Gallup, Gallup

4Survey: 84 Percent of U.S Workers Blame Bad Managers for Creating Unnecessary Stress, by Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM

5Portugal bans bosses texting staff after-hours, by British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC

6European Union’s flawed privacy law a cautionary tale for Canada, by Canada Marketers Association, Cision Communications Cloud

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Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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