Amidst chaos and uncertainty, these five trends are taking shape in the workplace.

February 28th, 2022

Traditional leadership and decision making will be redefined  by data-driven and human-centered approaches. 

An abundance of articles is written at the end of each year predicting industry and market trends for the year to come. And like many who are interested in  the #futureofwork, we checked at least a dozen credible sources and went through the predictions for what seems to be a rather unpredictable future. 

With COVID lockdowns and restrictions spanning almost two years, remote work becoming a norm, many businesses closing down, a great reset and an even greater resignation, all these at the backdrop of rising economic and geopolitical uncertainties, it’s no wonder that chaos is now reigning over work life and labor markets. One thing we know for sure is that being “always on” for work-related matters is a thing of the past and simultaneous collaboration is disappearing in favor of asynchronous communication.

Amidst this utter confusion, we see some trends beginning to take shape in 2022. We analyzed several sources containing reports, surveys and predictions for the future of work and compiled all trends in five categories.  Check out a full list of the resources used at the end of the article. 

1. Organizations and employees become partners in achieving a higher purpose

While many reports mention a heightened distrust of organizations, it’s also obvious that people expect organizations to fully embrace corporate citizenship and be active on issues related to politics, culture and social debate. At the same time increased flexibility of remote work is also likely to increase turnover rates. Unless a strong purpose and company-wide decision making glues everything and everyone together, organizations will become even more fragile. 

Here are the top trends in this category:

  • The chief purpose officer will be the next major C-level role. 
  • Employees seek companies whose values match their own.
  • Employees want to be involved in the conversations and decisions that affect workflow and direction. People analytics will come in handy to serve this need. There will be a notable shift from a handful of leaders making decisions to thousands of people managers sending feedback to centralized hubs.
  • Organizations will have an increased focus on Employee Experience (which is now elevated to Customer Experience levels). 

 Photo by cottonbro from Pexels 

2. Employers will build their EVP around human needs

Competing for talent will make employers revise the traditional benefits packages and rework their overall offerings to employees. The pandemic showed that work-life balance is an ever more important subject with aspects ranging from parenting to burnout, to a whole new definition of career success.

Here are the top trends in this category:

  • Organizations will need a stronger commitment to work-life balance.
  • To compete for talent some employers will shorten the work week rather than increase pay.
  • Working parents expect a new employer value proposition that enables them to work flexibly and juggle childcare responsibilities. 
  • Millennials are increasingly focused on their development instead of benefits; employers will need to match this need in their EVP.
  • People seem to have a new definition of success - and it puts an emphasis on personal growth and development rather than the classic notion of “climbing the career ladder”.
  • Flex schedules are now a  prerequisite for employees working remotely. According to an article by Forbes, hybrid work is what the majority of workers want. 

 Photo by Dmitriy Ganin from Pexels 

3. Leadership will be redefined; people skills become essential

The days of managers whose existence was justified by the reports and spreadsheets they submitted each month are long gone. With increased automation, leadership is more about coaching, mentoring, and enabling people to grow. Here are the top trends in this category:

  • Managerial tasks will be automated, creating space for managers to build more human relationships with their employees. According to HBR “the next generation of technology will start to replace additional managerial tasks, such as providing performance feedback and supporting employees in building n-ew peer-to-peer connections. With this growth in automation, companies will be faced with a choice: decrease the number of managers or change the expectations of what it means to be a manager.”
  • The way leaders conduct meetings will change. With the rise of asynchronous communication employers could start working with video recordings containing detailed explanations of the work that needs to be done. Meetings conducted live via an online medium will require better facilitation and communication skills.
  • Coaching will be among the leadership PowerSkills of 2022. As technology fully automates predictable work processes, leaders will need to channel  their energy towards team development and people growth which are best facilitated through coaching.

 Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels 

4. Technology will be widely adopted for work- and people-related processes

Tools and software apps have been making their way in organizations for a while but there’s a newly found reasoning behind automation. As the workforce is dispersed across the globe and work happens across multiple time zones, new tools are needed to manage tasks and priorities. At the same time crowd-based platforms powered by AI will allow HR to collect and analyze big data to make better people decisions.

Here are the top trends in this category:

  • The tools that we now use for remote work will embed features that help measure and improve performance. 
  • Cloud-based workspaces will be created to serve the needs of remote work.
  • Talent marketplace platforms will allow employers to source more talent through internal mobility efforts. Such platforms will collect data about employees’ skills and career plans which will help employers keep and develop existing hires across multiple projects and departments.
  • Crowdsourcing and employee listening platforms are now seen as an essential part of HR technology.

 Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels 

5. Employee wellbeing and development will be a top priority

Employers will focus on the physical, mental and psychological well being of their employees in order to enhance engagement, creativity and productivity. Organizations will embrace micro-learning as a key L&D tool to encourage learning in a noisy world.

Here are the top trends in this category: 

  • Employers will focus on building psychological safety and mindfulness in the workplace. Leaders will initiate programs and activities to enhance collaboration and transparency. 
  • Wellness will become the newest metric that companies use to understand their employees.
  • Micro-learning will ensure upskilling and reskilling in the workplace. Bite-sized learning content, platforms and programs will address current challenges such as lack of time, resistance to change, and lack of motivation to take on additional responsibilities.
  • Time in person will be more valuable.  The office is no longer the place to perform work-related tasks. It’s becoming the focal point for building and nurturing culture - a place to gather for big project kick-offs, team bonding activities, gift exchange etc. To make the most of time spent at the office, employees will need to prepare differently for meetings and to develop new skills for teamwork and collaboration. 

 Photo by fauxels from Pexels  

What are your key takeaways from this article?

 Which of these trends do you believe will be definitive for 2022? Which ones are you willing to test and adopt? Share your thoughts and suggestions.

Sources used for this article:

Human Resources Online:  The workforce in 2022: 15 trends that will shape hiring, learning, working, and more

Forbes:  Top Ten HR Trends For The 2022 Workplace

PWC:  The future of work. A journey to 2022 

Harvard Business Review:  11 Trends that Will Shape Work in 2022 and Beyond

Vantage Circle Blog:  Corporate Culture Trends for 2022

Enterprise Project:  3 fading and 3 future IT culture trends

Dan Schawbel:  The Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2022

Visier: Workplace Trends 2022.  The Age of  Employees is Here

BenefitNews: 6 workplace trends employers should embrace in 2022