Well, it’s time to talk about predictions for 2022 and the number one topic is change.
And in a way everything will change.
If you think back to where we are, 14 years have passed since the 2008 financial crisis, and we have seen digital transformation, economic hypergrowth, a stock market boom, extremely low interest rates and enormous capital availability. We have seen huge investments in the tech industry, the advent of cryptocurrency and blockchain, the birth of 5G telecommunications, the widespread use of electric vehicles and charging stations, and mobile devices that are more powerful than supercomputers.
Personally, we have video cameras on every device and our homes have become film studios. On the flip side, we’ve seen disruptions to our political system, threats to our sense of inclusion and belonging, a growing problem of homelessness, and a feeling that income inequality could be worse than ever (three billionaires flew into space for fun this time.)
On the positive side, the standard of living is rising as flexible work and new employment models become mainstream and wages definitely rise. Businesses are discovering that paying people does not reduce profits. Even bargain hunters like Amazon.com are raising wages.
What will happen in 2022? Let me mention four big trends.
First, It is clear to me that in a. will be very tight job market.
There are nearly 14 million job openings in the United States today, and it could be 20 million by 2022. It will be very difficult to hire, and as we discuss in the Forecast report, you will focus your recruiting efforts on in-house hiring, hiring new people within the company, continuing education, and what I call “people-centered recruiting”. You hire people based on skills and aptitude, not just experience.
The job market will change. The enormous number of opportunities will attract people into the labor market and drive up the participation rate. And that means you have a wider range of candidates to choose from. That doesn’t mean that the setting will be easy because people feel very empowered.
Also, remember that exercise is more important than ever. New EMSI studies show that the proportion of secondments offering in-service training has even increased by 40% in the last two years. You have to hire for aptitude and ability and then train people when they arrive. (A 330% increase for jobs in the supply chain that do not require any experience at all.)
Second, we are about to witness the unleashing of the most incredible technology I have ever seen. Not only do we have AI under the guise of every HR department, but Talent Intelligence systems get incredibly good at mapping, predicting, and selecting people. We have virtual reality and augmented reality tools, avatars, micro-learning and an entire branch of AI-supported online coaching.
For employees, we now have amazing new tools for learning discovery and learning experiences, employee experience platforms to create a better workplace, employee survey and listening tools that can capture sentiment and open feedback, and all kinds of organizational analysis tools to find out where people are unhappy (or unproductive). Not to mention an endless number of wellness tools.
As an HR professional, HR director, or talent leader, you need to be aware of technology, and I haven’t even mentioned the self-service technology, speech recognition tools, and digital adoption tools that every employee and call center agent use. So you will be very involved in the selection and implementation of new technologies.
The third big change is a new conversation about culture. I think we’re going to have a stock market correction, a series of rate hikes, and a lot of fear of inflation. For me we have been in an inflationary phase for a long time. I’ve always felt that the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on inflation is wrong. Where I live in California we’ve been an inflationary economy for a decade. Real estate prices are ridiculously high and so is everything else.
And thanks to the media, inflation is discussed more and more often. Inflation is making people feel less secure. It makes you feel like whatever you base your decisions on is suddenly changing beneath your feet. It’s like living on quicksand … something you wanted to buy yesterday has become more expensive today, and maybe you won’t be able to buy it tomorrow. And that creates a sense of insecurity on top of the ongoing delayed problem of the pandemic.
So we’re going to see a work and business environment where employees look for predictability. You are looking for security. They are looking for security. They are looking for a company they can trust.
And there is more. Employees want to work for a company that cares about global climate change, environmental issues and sustainability. You are looking for a company that takes care of its employees. The topics of culture, trust and the employment brand will therefore be enormous in 2022. And the stress of the pandemic isn’t over yet: New research from Mercer indicates that nearly 40% of workers use mental health or coaching services. (The Global Wellness Institute assumes that mental health in the workplace is about 9.8% annually in the next five years.)
Incidentally, our recruitment research indicates this. We’re launching our new talent acquisition study in the first quarter and you’ll see that employment brand is the single most important predictor of hiring great people. And recruiting is the most important thing you do. If you don’t get the right people on board, it doesn’t matter how well your management team can do. So I think 2022 will be a big year talking about culture, trust, human-centered leadership and your employer brand.
The fourth thing I would like to highlight the changed role of the HR department.
We have been through two years of the pandemic and it feels like forever. And all of the topics we are confronted with, be it talent mobility or skill academies or competency models or recruiting or leadership development, are not new. They have been there forever.
But something big has changed: the The role of the HR department has been increased. Nobody has problems with a seat at the table.
Most of you have spent the past two years studying remote work, hybrid work, return to work, safe work, and critical managerial guidelines. But behind the scenes, your processes and HR structure haven’t changed fast enough.
So the fourth step in 2022 is to take a serious and sober look at the HR role, the skills and abilities of your HR team and the level of development of each individual member of the HR organization. And that includes the business partners, the specialists, the call center agents, the consultants, the designers, the technicians and the employees. And it is time to look at the HR function as a professional service organization: one with consultants, product managers, service delivery and technology rolled into one. And you will see that there are many interesting options open to you.
We learned a lot during the pandemic. We learned that it’s okay to change jobs. It’s okay to work on cross-functional projects. It’s okay to implement digital tools quickly. We don’t have to wait years and years to turn new things on. People learn how to use them pretty quickly. So apply all of those disciplines to the HR department and I think you will see 2022 is going to be pretty cool.
Please read our research report. It’s designed as a guide to help you decide what to do and prioritize your investments. I will talk a lot more on these topics in the next few weeks and certainly into the new year.
Have a fantastic vacation. And we look forward to working with you in 2022. We will be here to accompany you on this journey.
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