Words by Kieran Howells
It’s hard to conceive that another year is nearly over. 2022 will go down as a challenging one in the years to come; the continuation of a virus that defined the past few years, financial instability due to economic downturn, wars in Europe and trading challenges caused in part by the UK’s exit from Europe have rendered many HR departments battle hardened and, likely, wary of what more there is to come within the next 12 months. Employees are likely burned out from the constant change they’ve witnessed, anxious about the future and, given the threat of a two-year-long recession in which the cost of living will continue to spiral, worrying about their own financial strength.
However, not all of the changes to workplace structure and culture have been bad ones. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. The technology we use on a daily basis has grown and developed into tools that HR could have only dreamed about in years gone by. And, out of the turmoil of the pandemic, teams have become more agile, able to pivot and thrive under rocky circumstances.
And, due to a talent market that has heavily favoured the candidate over the employer, workers now feel empowered to expect standards of care and attention from their businesses that have bolstered health, wellbeing and work-life balance initiatives like never before. Remote working, flexible workdays, the abundance of new financial wellbeing perks and, yes I’m going to mention it, the four day week (or one of the many variations on this theme, are all now becoming the norm, and these aren’t initiatives born from profit and loss spreadsheets. These are initiatives that workplaces have tested out, only to find that they, in fact, benefit everyone.
Looking back over the trends that were touted to be big hitters in these past 12 months, it’s clear to see that people expected an unsettled year. Predictions made by Teri Atif, Divisional Head of GTM, at Access People, for example, speak of the need for refined approaches to health and wellbeing and diversity and inclusion. Atif talks of workplaces rebuilt from the ground up, focussing on connection and collaboration, rather than simply desks at which to work. And, of course, even at the start of the year it was clear that the whole talent landscape was going to change.
Labour and skills shortages, reimagining the talent lifecycle and your own internal talent pipelines were top of the priorities list back in January. “An emphasis on redesigning and enhancing jobs is likely to take hold in the months ahead,” Atif said.
Yet really, back then, we had no idea just how chaotic the year would be. And, once again, we’re looking to 2023 with only a slightly educated guess for what could be in store. Regardless, being in the know, and being prepared for what may come your way are the keys to starting 2023 off on the right track. However, much things may deviate from our desired path, many of the issues we’re about to discuss will remain a priority, if HR is going to continue its path of positive influence over the lives of working people.
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