HR Trends and Perspective on Job Market in 2022

What are HR leaders thinking about the job market in 2022?

At Transition Solutions, we have been helping companies and individuals with workforce changes for 30 years. We work with HR leaders across organizations to help them plan and execute successful changes to their workforce.

The pandemic has been very challenging for companies. With a shortage of workers, HR leaders and C-suite executives are having to continue to adapt to attract top talent. Mercer, a global leader in redefining the world of work, recently released its 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, “The Rise of the Relatable Organization.”

According to Mercer’s Study, four in five C-suite executives believe the people and business agendas have never been more intertwined, making it crucial for companies to be more open and easier to relate to. Listening intently to their stakeholders, using data to uncover patterns and guide action, and speaking out on issues that matter will help employees who have the privilege of choice decide which organization(s) they want to spend time with. Drawing on insights from nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees, the Study identifies trends to build a relatable organization in a heightened risk environment.

The study outlines five trends for 2022: What relatable organizations are getting right summarized below.

1. Reset for relevance.

Staying relevant means adapting to changing values of customers, employees and investors. This demands a reset of priorities and a new work operating model that is adaptable, connects people to work more seamlessly, and re-envisions the talent experience. Organizations that walk the talk on their core values – through company purpose, work standards, and investment strategies – will better relate with their stakeholders and be better positioned to deliver business outcomes. The challenge is embracing a new work operating model with enough adaptive capacity to enable workers across the organization to make value-driven decisions day to day.

After job security, organizational brand and reputation is now the #2 reason that people joined their current employer (a jump from #9 before the pandemic). Employees want to work for companies that reflect their personal values. 96% of employees expect their employer to pursue a sustainability agenda that balances financial results with social issues, diversity/equity, and environmental impact.

2. Work in partnership

The Study shows that people no longer want to work for a company, they want to work with a company. Nearly all executives (96%) say we are in an employee-centric labor market and 70% of HR professionals are predicting higher than normal turnover this year – most notably with regard to younger workers and those in the digital space. Working in partnership means reassessing the employee-employer relationship. Relatable organizations see the value in ‘partnering’ over ‘leading’ and are doing this by evolving their return-to-work strategies into sustainable future‑of‑work models.

Bravery added, “The future of work will succeed only if everyone feels they are getting a fair deal and benefiting from an equitable relationship between employer and individual regardless of employment status and the type of work they do. Today, it is not only knowledge workers who are demanding flexible options to fit around their life, but all workers — from shop floor workers to truck drivers. Leaders are also grappling with issues of fairness with what is offered to frontline workers versus managers with pay for people doing the same job from different locations, and with career and health parity for new hires versus current employees.”

3. Deliver on total well-being

The pandemic exposed and worsened the health and wealth gaps for different populations, underscoring that accessibility and affordability of care is not enough. Shifting the focus from reducing health-related costs to optimizing investment so that people remain healthy and engaged is key to people sustainability.

A staggering 81% of employees feel at risk of burnout this year (up from an already concerning 63% in 2020).They say the top reason for burnout is not feeling sufficiently rewarded for their efforts. Employee well-being is perceived by executives as the people initiative that will deliver the second greatest ROI in the next two years (after reskilling).

Good mental health has always been part of overall well-being, but businesses are doing more to help employees achieve it. Over one-third (36%) of companies are introducing a strategy to address mental or emotional well-being this year. Across all demographics, financial worries have increased, with half (51%) of employees saying they feel insecure about their financial future.

4. Build for employability.

The pandemic supercharged companies’ race to reskill, but in many cases reskilling initiatives became divorced from the organization’s future strategy. Resetting the skills agenda to meet both current and future talent needs will ensure people are, and remain, employable. Skills-based models are enabling organizations to deploy talent more flexibly and tap into broader and more diverse talent pools – already a priority for one in three organizations.

Nearly all (91%) employees reported recently learning a new skill, yet a staggering 98% of companies report significant skill gaps in their organization. Transparency on which skills are most needed can help employees maintain their own employability and focus their own learning efforts on the skills that will drive the company’s growth. HR’s top reskilling concern is that reskilled/upskilled talent will leave the company. One way to address the issue is to offer more opportunities for employees to use their newly acquired skills. Close to 90% of companies already have or plan to adopt an AI-powered internal talent marketplace platform to facilitate movement.

5. Harness collective energy.

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies, business models and modern ways of working. Experiencing this level of change in a compressed timeline, on top of fatigue caused by those events, has taken a toll. The percentage of employees who report feeling energized has dropped significantly — from 74% in 2019 to 63% this year, the lowest level in this Study’s seven-year history. But at the same time, employees are more optimistic about what the future holds: when asked to describe the future of work, the top response (51%) is that they expect it to be more balanced, with more time for family, hobbies, health and learning.

Nearly all companies (97%) are planning enterprise-wide transformation this year, but employee fatigue is cited as the number one barrier to delivering on that transformation in the eyes of all three stakeholders. Employees also cite organizational complexity as a critical barrier. As we transform, it will be critical to rethink the employee experience with an eye towards energy as 65% of Executives believe that as they have automated HR processes, they have lost valuable contact between HR and the business.

About the 2022 Global Talent Trends Study: The seventh edition of Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study brings together the voices of nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees representing 16 geographies and 13 industries. Access the full report.

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