- The social conditions that the pandemic produced gave workers time to reflect and, as a result, many found their priorities had changed.
- Such time to reflect has manifested into a general consensus that workers deserve better.
- As we head into the new year, what workforce trends will determine whether companies are able to successfully attract and retain employees?
In 2020, the fundamental change in workforce trends was the amplification of remote work. Because of that change, today, there are more remote workers globally than at any time in history.
Arguably the most fundamental workforce trend of 2021 was the Great Resignation. The social conditions that the pandemic produced gave workers time to reflect and, as a result, many found their priorities had changed.
Such time to reflect has manifested into a general consensus that workers deserve better. And by ‘better,’ only a fraction of what that means consists of receiving higher wages and greater benefits. More saliently is worker’s newfound vocality on their needs –such as flexibility and fairer, more decent, working conditions.
What should we expect from workforce trends in 2022?
Will companies adequately respond to the great resignation?
It seems that a large percentage of what will determine workforce trends in 2022 is how companies plan on responding to the Great Resignation. As 2021 comes to a close, the Great Resignation is still running hot.
Some companies have already responded to the Great Resignation by increasing wages and improving worker benefits. Specifically, we see this occurring in the retail and service industries.
However, workers have not returned to working at their old jobs in response to these concessions. Therefore, it’s clear that a different strategy will be required for companies to end their labor shortages.
One of the most pressing demands workers have been expressing throughout the Great Resignation is greater flexibility. And when polled, generally this means a greater availability of hybrid options for work. Indeed, at least 87% of employees say that they’d like to work from home at least once a week.
How accommodating to this widespread desire do companies plan to be?
It’s clear that they’ve been ramping up on hybrid work options, but despite this, according to Robert Half, the Great Resignation is expected to remain with us well into 2022.
“A lot of folks have done a lot of soul-searching, so to speak, and reevaluating what is most important,” said Joe Fisher, Senior Regional Director of Rober Half.
“Then you get people leaving entire industries that they have made their mark in, or career in, and choosing to do something else. And that is not something we have traditionally seen in years past, particularly coming out of a recession.”
Gen Z will continue shaping the workplace
Gen Z –those born between 1997-2012– have begun entering the workforce, and by 2030, will compose 30% of the U.S. workforce. This is the first generation raised entirely on the internet, and they are projected to make radical changes to the nature of work in the coming decades.
Gen Z is a peculiar generation in a variety of ways. For instance, their values, generally, do not align with working for the sake of working. Rather, Gen Zers are passion-oriented in their career pursuits.
In light of this, we see Gen Z workers driving the Great Resignation, as research shows that Gen Zers are most likely to leave a job they haven’t been with for long if better opportunities arise.
This, however, won’t be the only change this new generation brings to the workforce.
When polled 86 % of Gen Z workers say that they’ve already experienced workplace discrimination and abuse in their short time in the workforce. This is likely to cause –in addition to continued turbulence in retaining employees– a turbulent company culture.
A switch from unplanned to intentional reinvention
In 2020 and 2021 radical changes occurred in the world of work. Organizations had to reinvent their approach to work, but as a result of unforeseen circumstances.
In 2022, while such reinvention will continue to evolve and accelerate, this will not be due to solely unforeseen circumstances, but rather, it will result from the intention to adapt into the future.
Some of these adaptations are due to current circumstances: organizations will come to realize that labor shortages are a result of companies having historically ignored the needs of their workforce. As a result, ‘reinvention’ will in part entail no longer ignoring such needs.
Clearly, some companies won’t adapt in this respect, but this goes without saying when any such change is occurring. “64% of the world’s most admired companies say they have a good understanding of workforce needs two or more years into the future compared to 54% of their peers.”
Another reinvention companies will face is valuing learning agility and curiosity above career history. Indeed, 69% of companies already share these values, and this is only expected to increase in 2022.
New tech means new jobs
Development of new technology is constantly accelerating. And despite alarm bells that tend to ring in lieu of this fact –such as the notion that ‘robots will take all the jobs’– new technology, historically, produces many new jobs.
For instance, Facebook (Meta) and its new virtual reality program known as the Metaverse will not only produce thousands of jobs, but it will open the door to the possibility of new jobs within virtual reality.
Picture, for instance, instead of going to the mall, you can simply browse clothing in the metaverse, shopping with your friends as avatars.
New skills for new jobs
While new technology will surely open up the door for endless possibilities of new jobs, this will not necessarily open up such doors for all workers. Indeed, 50% of employees are said to require reskilling by 2025 if they’re to successfully operate in the new world of work.
The new jobs which will arise out of new technology, that is, will require adequate training and education –which most workers currently lack. Luckily, “37 % of professionals say upskilling/reskilling current employees is the top way they are addressing the labor and skills Shortage.”
It is this sort of response, in fact, that is a top predictor of employee retention for companies –that is, opportunities for advancement, learning, and development which are transparent to employees.
If the Great Resignation is to cease anytime soon, therefore, creating such opportunities ought to be paramount on the part of companies struggling with labor shortages and supply chain issues.