Human Resources lead­ers are always being asked to look into a crys­tal ball and pre­dict the future. You prob­a­bly don’t have any super pow­ers. But your Spidey sense might be telling you that a few trends that are sur­fac­ing are like­ly to stick around through the new year, 2022.

The coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic has changed your work and life. Slow­ly, things are improv­ing and you’re get­ting your orga­ni­za­tion (not to men­tion your­self) used to the new nor­mal. While you’re set­tling in (and still hav­ing an occa­sion­al pan­ic attack, no judg­ment), you might want to pay spe­cial atten­tion to what’s com­ing next.

Transformation of Human Resources

There’s no doubt that the biggest sto­ry of 2021, the Great Res­ig­na­tion, will spill over into 2022. When the pan­dem­ic began in 2020, HR lead­ers sud­den­ly had a seat at the table. You were charged with being the light as peo­ple nav­i­gat­ed safe­ty pro­to­col and tran­si­tioned to remote teams in the dark­ness. Your stature only con­tin­ued to grow.

Then, peo­ple start­ed quit­ting jobs in droves. In 2021, you fig­ured out why this was hap­pen­ing. Peo­ple were tired of low wages, lack of child care and health­care, and an over­all malaise about the kind of work they were doing. Some renamed the era the Great Reshuf­fling because peo­ple were seek­ing a bet­ter fit in their work and more work-life bal­ance. In 2022, you will be deter­min­ing the best ways to recruit and retain top tal­ent. These strate­gies won’t be as basic they once were. It will def­i­nite­ly be a case of out with the old and in with the new.

Four-Day Workweek

In the wake of the pan­dem­ic, employ­ees learned how to be ultra-pro­duc­tive at home. They used the extra time that remote work afford­ed (with­out a com­mute) to enjoy their fam­i­lies, pur­sue their hob­bies, and get in a lit­tle me time. Peo­ple don’t want to give that up. Employ­ees have the lever­age now, and they are ask­ing for more flex­i­bil­i­ty in their sched­ules. While that’s already hap­pen­ing, some are talk­ing about tak­ing flex­i­bil­i­ty even further.

All this prompt­ed dis­cus­sions about the four-day work­week, a con­cept that has come up before. The debate will con­tin­ue on into 2022, and some com­pa­nies may adapt to this sched­ule to woo recruits and retain employ­ees dur­ing what con­tin­ues to be an his­toric labor shortage.

Mental Health and Wellness

The pan­dem­ic revealed that men­tal health and well­ness is impor­tant to every­one. No one is immune to stress, espe­cial­ly dur­ing uncer­tain times. Busi­ness­es are rec­og­niz­ing this fact and pro­vid­ing employ­ees with tools for reliev­ing stress, address­ing men­tal ill­ness­es, and pre­vent­ing burnout. Some com­pa­nies are offer­ing more flex­i­bil­i­ty, but they also pro­vide pro­grams. Maybe the employ­er offers a yoga class or med­i­ta­tion time. Some pro­vide men­tal health days as part of paid time off (PTO). Employ­ers are going to get more cre­ative and pay more atten­tion to the men­tal health of their employ­ees mov­ing for­ward. This will only become a big­ger part of HR leadership’s responsibilities.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

At the height of the pan­dem­ic, the world watched the Black Lives Mat­ter protests unfold before their eyes. Many demand­ed that busi­ness­es take a stand and show their sup­port for the move­ment. By putting the spot­light on injus­tices relat­ed to polic­ing, peo­ple began rec­og­niz­ing the lack of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in lead­er­ship and man­age­ment and even at junior levels.

While diver­si­ty had been on the minds of HR lead­ers for some time already, DEI strate­gies have risen in terms of pri­or­i­ty. In 2022, you can expect DEI to remain at the fore­front of recruit­ing and reten­tion strategies.

The Possibility of More Variants

The Omi­cron vari­ant swept the nation dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, and it upend­ed plans for a return to the office for many employ­ers. While some tra­di­tion­al­ists are hold­ing out for in-office-only work­ers and some occu­pa­tions require going to a phys­i­cal loca­tion to get the job done, the real­i­ty is that most com­pa­nies will have to keep some lev­el of remote work as an option because of the var­i­ous COVID vari­ants that might sur­face. Until the pan­dem­ic turns into an endem­ic, some com­pa­nies will be remote only. Oth­ers will remain hybrid workplaces.

Com­ing up with suf­fi­cient strate­gies on how to col­lab­o­rate, forge bonds, con­duct per­for­mance mea­sures, and attain desired results is a must. Of course, there are dread­ed con­ver­sa­tions to be had about mask­ing up and get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed. Take a holis­tic approach, make sure the strat­e­gy match­es your val­ues, and con­sid­er the risks asso­ci­at­ed with what­ev­er deci­sions you make.

Generational Differences

For the first time in his­to­ry, four gen­er­a­tions (Boomers, Gen­er­a­tion X, Mil­len­ni­als, and Gen Z) are in the work­force at the same time. The dif­fer­ences among the gen­er­a­tions – from pop cul­ture ref­er­ences to tech savvy – pop up at the water cool­er on a dai­ly basis. The real­i­ty is that Mil­len­ni­als and Gen Z hold most of the pow­er. The Boomers are retir­ing and Gen Xers are the small­est group and often get ignored or forgotten.

In any case, many HR experts focused on the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences that influ­ence the suc­cess of orga­ni­za­tions. The pan­dem­ic real­ly brought out some of the pro­found dis­agree­ments, like whether to per­mit work­ing from home in any city you choose or push­ing or a return to the office. Gen Z report­ed­ly del­e­gates to their old­er supe­ri­ors, while Mil­len­ni­als take a more mid­dle-of-the-road and even prac­ti­cal approach as they gain esteem and rise to pow­er. These gen­er­a­tional gaps will con­tin­ue into 2022, and you might notice more dif­fer­ences. Cer­tain­ly, HR lead­ers are going to be work­ing hard to unite all these groups. After all, DEI efforts should include age vari­a­tions, too.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network