What were some of the biggest HR trends we saw in 2022?
As the year draws to an end, HRreview reflects on the trending HR topics of 2022.
The Great Resignation
The equivalent of 1.3m UK SMEs have unnecessarily lost talent this year by making employees feel undervalued.
Research, commissioned by digital gifting company Prezzee, highlights that 24 percent of UK SMEs have lost undervalued talent in the past 4-6 months, directly feeding into The Great Resignation, which has seen people leaving their jobs at the highest rate since 2009.
In organisations of more than 250 staff, four in 10 HR Directors say they have changed or are looking at alternatives to reward staff – regardless of the changes to where their staff work.
James Malia, UK MD of Prezzee, said: “When times are tough, as they undoubtedly have been over the past two years, reward and incentive strategies are more important than ever. They’re a clear way to showcase how highly a company values its staff and as our data reveals, when not done well it directly results in people leaving for greener pastures.
“It’s therefore important that businesses are doing everything they can to support employees during the cost of living crisis. It doesn’t need to be a huge change in strategy either, the trick is to offer personalised rewards and incentives regularly – rather than making people wait a year for bonuses. It’s then that people will realise quite how highly businesses value them, especially when these incentives come at a time when money is tight, as it is for many during the current cost of living crisis.
In order to ensure that The Great Resignation does not continue into 2023, or that we see The Great Resignation 2.0, HR professionals need to demonstrate that they value their staff.
The skills shortage
Perhaps because of The Great Resignation, many organisations have faced a major skills shortage throughout 2022. It has meant that many companies have had struggles recruiting talent, as well as leading organisations to have a bigger focus on the L&D opportunities that they offer. Also, it has meant that organisations have had to refine their staff retention strategies.
“Companies are doubling down on their key strategies to achieve growth and profit, and employees are at the heart of this. Staff shortages continue to be a challenge, with no sign that this will change any time soon,” says the Advanced’s 2022 annual business trends report.
Also, commenting on the recent ONS labour market statistics, REC Chief Executive, Neil Carberry said that the “overall picture we see is one of a labour market that is still defined by labour shortage constraining its ability to grow. That’s why businesses need to work with their recruiters on innovative and effective strategies, and all firms are looking to Government to act on some of the barriers – from skills to immigration, and right-to-work checks to employment support, there is a huge amount the Government could do to fire up our labour market.”
The four-day working week
The four-day week trial involving 70 UK companies kicked off on 6th June and is thought to be the world’s biggest pilot scheme into the working pattern.
Over 70 companies and 3,000 workers took part in this initial scheme.
Whilst this scheme could help to create a better work-life balance for many employees, without clear boundaries and parameters employers are at risk of a quality downturn, leading staff to feel more burnout than they did initially.
It is also important to consider whether organisations just seeking another way to exert control behind a façade of a four-day gimmick.
Organisations who are thinking about adopting the four-day work week need to use it as a prompt to ask, what is it that they’re trying to solve and are they just sticking plaster to bigger issues.
President at O’Reilly, Laura Baldwin, discusses whether a four-day work week is necessarily the answer: “When it comes to work schedules, what people really care about is flexibility. It’s not about four days or five. Either is still very prescriptive and doesn’t account for the varied reasons many employees want flexibility – for example, to manage five-day-a-week school pick-up hours. For the burnt-out, overworked employees who went above and beyond during the pandemic, fewer hours, worked flexibly across five days is likely to mean more than a four-day slog.
“Since lockdown, we’ve seen another labour revolution as flexible, technology-supported working explodes in popularity. But while the four-day week grabs headlines, its fixed hours may still be too restrictive for some. If business leaders want to offer true flexibility, should they instead relax established shift patterns and let employees choose when they work?” says Attar Naderi, Associate Director Europe & MENA at Laserfiche.
“Ultimately, to discover what works best for your workforce, it may be worth trialling a period of flexible working—whether through subscribing to the four-day model, or even allowing employees to control their own diaries. You might find it to be one of your best workplace policies yet.”
Greater menopausal awareness
Throughout 2022, the HR world has seen an increase in menopausal awareness. October marked Menopause Awareness Month, which highlighted how menopausal symptoms can have a huge impact on women’s professional life.
A study conducted by Superdrug Online Doctor has revealed that more and more women in the UK are taking control of their menopausal symptoms, with a 149 percent rise in HRT prescriptions in the UK over the past five years.
Despite this evident rise in menopause wellness, it becomes clear, from speaking to experts and women who have gone through menopause themselves, that there are several things women wished they were made aware of prior to their experience. One primary example is how menopause impacted their professional life.
Jennifer Young, Microbiologist, Nutritional Therapist, and associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, says:
“The area that really needs to be acknowledged is the impact that menopause has on women at work. TheMenopause and the Workplace report by the Fawcett Society and Channel 4, polling 4,000 women aged 45-55, found that 10 percent left their jobs because of menopause symptoms. If women want to leave their jobs, that’s one thing, but if they feel they have to leave their jobs because they aren’t getting enough support for something beyond their control, that’s not ok.
“In the same report 41 percent said that they felt menopause symptoms were treated as a joke by people at work, while 29 percent believed employers couldn’t do anything to help – but they can.
“Not only is it unacceptable for the individual to feel so unsupported at work that they feel they have to resign, but it’s a loss to businesses as well. These are women who are experienced at their jobs and bring a lot of value to companies. To lose them because of an inevitable life change is absurd.”
The benefits of supporting the neurodivergent workforce
2022 saw numerous days dedicated to the celebration of neurodiverse individuals within the workforce, with research demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse range of individuals within an organisation.
Despite this, in an age of encouraged diversity and inclusivity, it is shocking that 22 percent of people with autism in the UK are unemployed, compared to a national unemployment figure of just 3.7 percent, according to research from ToHealth.
This highlights the fact that we have a way to go when supporting neurodiversity in the workplace.
Part of the problem may well stem from the fact that many employers still do not understand what neurodiversity really is, assuming it relates only to those on the autistic spectrum.
In fact, neurodiversity is a term that is associated with a range of conditions, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, and Tourette’s Syndrome – to name a few.
With one-in-seven people in the UK identifying as neurodivergent, it is time for companies to step up and ensure that they have inclusivity strategies in place to ensure everyone within their organisation feels comfortable at work, and equally important to the business. It is essential therefore that companies take the time to learn about neurodiversity, and support their entire network, including their neurodivergent employees.
On behalf of HRreview, thank you for your readership throughout 2022. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.