Before the COVID-19 pandemic turned the entire HR field inside out (and back again), the industry was registering new, hip trends every year. Buzzwords like artificial intelligence, one-click applications or employer branding heated up the tempers. Since the beginning of the crisis, a certain process of rethinking has become apparent. On the one hand, this entails a return to the core processes of HR, but on the other hand, it also focuses on making HR more efficient and more digital. But what are the top HR trends in 2022? As you might expect, it’s a mix of two worlds.
Home office: time for resilient, hybrid models
In 2020, the need for widespread home office workplaces hit many employers like a lightning strike. Today, we’ve come to terms with the situation. More than that, employers are recognizing the opportunities of hybrid work models. The big productivity collapse has failed to materialize. Instead, employers are saving on costs for office space and workstations. Even in 2022, the discussion about a possible mandatory home office in the future will not end.
But employers are now being asked to question existing models, optimize them and make them fit for the future. After all, it’s not just a matter of setting up home offices from a technical point of view. It’s about taking employees’ wishes into account in the further development of flexible working time models. Employers must create structures in which remote workers and office-based employees can work together.
Employee well-being: prevention programs gain in importance
Whereas a few years ago workplace health promotion was more of a freestyle activity for attractive employers, it is now increasingly becoming a duty. For a long time now, mental illnesses have been on the rise – with a drastic peak during the COVID-19 years, as the DAK-Gesundheit’s Psychreport shows.
One of the major trend topics in 2022 is employee well-being. Especially now that the boundaries between work and private life are becoming increasingly blurred in the home office, stress-related signs such as concentration disorders are on the rise. Managers are under great pressure and more and more suffer burnouts. Counteracting this development will be a major challenge for employers this year.
Employee retention: the hot potato in the new year
This is a hot potato that will burn many an employer’s fingers. According to a study conducted by Qualtrics in August 2021, an average of one in two management employees plans to change jobs within a year. Many employees have questioned many things in the past two years, such as the meaningfulness of their work or their personal goals.
Now that the economy is recovering, there’s plenty of potential for a job change – and it’s almost being made easy for employees. Employers who want to avoid losing highly skilled staff should make employee retention a top priority now. Career and training opportunities could play as much a role here as good managers or personal conversations.
Automation of core HR processes
In the trend forecasts of recent years, core HR tasks led a shadowy existence at best. Now they are coming back into focus, especially since they need to be rethought against the backdrop of greatly changed processes and hybrid work models.
In 2022, the focus will be on strongly automating core HR processes. On the one hand, this will make it easier to exchange information with remote workers, for example via employee self-service tools. On the other hand, it frees up valuable capacity for HR to invest in strategically important tasks, such as employee well-being or supporting managers in leading their hybrid teams.
Digital tools will be of great help in this regard, especially those that can be used to automate administrative tasks such as time management, payroll or the management of HR data. Similarly, a lot of time can be saved in recruiting if tasks such as recording and evaluating applications or correspondence with candidates are automated by software and AI.
Recruiting: focus on quality
Speaking of recruiting: Here, too, things will change – not least because of the wave of layoffs that many experts expect. Whereas the focus in the past was on receiving as many applications as possible and using software to filter out the best candidates, it is now shifting to finding real talent and personalities. Traditional recruiting methods such as job ads will continue to fade into the background. On the other hand, creative approaches that focus on the applicant as the “customer” will play a major role. Employer branding will gain additional importance in this context.
Changing leadership: Time for leadership development
Many a manager has reached his or her limits in the past two years. Managing employees remotely and keeping in touch with them without being able to see them regularly requires very different strategies and leadership skills than before. At the same time, managers are the most important links between the workforce and the corporate mission. They should carry forward the values and corporate culture – but this will be difficult given the lack of leadership skills in relation to hybrid teams.
One of the big HR trends in 2022 is likely to be the development of leaders. This is because they are also among the most important factors when it comes to the sustainable retention of employees in the company. They need to learn what their role is in modern, hybrid teams, what is expected of them, and how to behave properly in difficult situations.
New focus on IT competencies
Never before did one discover IT competencies in job advertisements for HR professionals. But the increasing digitization of HR, the further development of home office models and the growing use of cloud software mean that IT expertise is also becoming more important in the HR department. Close dovetailing of IT and HR is essential if systems are really to fit the company. A targeted strategy helps to implement new concepts.
But first of all, the focus must be on IT competencies. Both HR specialists with extensive IT knowledge and IT specialists with HR knowledge are rare. The key word is: qualification. And it is better for employers to start today rather than tomorrow. Because competitors are not asleep.
The time for reactions is now
Most of this year’s HR trends are old acquaintances. Even in previous years, recruiting, digitization and new work were important topics that no employer could avoid. And yet: the quality will change this year. HR trends no longer serve purely as an end in themselves. They are becoming a survival mechanism for employers in a world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find – and retain – qualified staff. Those who don’t jump on the bandwagon now, which has long been in motion, may soon lose out – and their top employees to the competition.
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