Trends | Employers are aware of the challenges of 2022 but can they effectively address them?

Employers are aware of the challenges of 2022 but can they effectively address them?

Towards the end of last year, iHASCO surveyed hundreds of Health & Safety and HR professionals, alongside business owners from a wide variety of industries, to help highlight the all-important issues when it comes to Health & Safety, HR, Compliance and Learning & Development; all crucial areas that lay the foundations for a business to succeed and thrive.

The research uncovered some of the common challenges organisations faced throughout 2021, as well as revealing the hot topics and themes for businesses in 2022.

Health & Safety and HR

When it comes to running a business, Health & Safety and HR are vitally important areas to get right. The pandemic has presented a variety of challenges for organisations with respondents stating that supporting staff mental health and wellbeing (55.9%), developing a safety culture (44.8%) and Infection prevention from COVID-19 (35.6%) are currently their top 3 Health & Safety considerations.

Over the course of last year, top Health & Safety challenges for employers included employee concerns over COVID (43.11%), keeping up with government guidelines / HSE recommendations (38.3%) and completion of mandatory training (35.6%). While HR challenges were noted as workplace culture (37.6%), absenteeism including self-isolation (37%), and providing employee development opportunities (32.3%). The pandemic has caused workplaces many frustrations which will have likely affected their business operations in a negative way. This year will hopefully allow businesses to address these challenges or even be free of them if the pandemic proves to be less of an issue in 2022.

Personal Development

When it comes to the personal development of employees, the top 3 methods used include eLearning (21%), face-to-face learning (18.3%) and shadowing or on the job learning (15.8%). Other learning opportunities included professional qualifications, seminars & webinars and mentoring or coaching. Restricted face-to-face contact and social distancing will have almost certainly made some forms of employee development difficult in 2021 but organisations have continued to provide a wide range of learning opportunities. Encouragingly, respondents rated the importance of employee personal development as 84 (on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being extremely important).

Top soft skills for employees to develop in 2022 were communication, teamwork and leadership. We have seen over the course of the pandemic just how important these skills have been in helping organisations adjust and manage change, so it is no surprise that these were selected.

Learning & Development

Respondents revealed that annual workplace training and employee development spend per employee varied, with 20.3% stating they spent £100 or under, 18.6% between £101-£200, and 19.3% between £201-£300. 48.1% anticipate their training & development budget to stay the same, while 27.5% expect an increase. While there may be some budget constraints for learning and development there may be more scope to increase focus in this area as businesses begin to reemerge from the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly 78% say their eLearning usage has increased a little or substantially since the start of the COVID pandemic. Respondents state quality of training, cost and accreditations as most important when looking for eLearning for their organisation.

A huge 84% use eLearning for mandatory Health & Safety training, which is likely a result of increased remote working and less face-to-face contact as businesses have leant on eLearning to support them with their legal obligations.

Key focuses for workplace training in 2022 are health & safety (76.6%), mental health & wellbeing (56.6%) and HR Compliance (46.4%). Respondents rated the importance of Health & Safety, HR and compliance training as 88 (on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being extremely important)

Other challenges

The respondents felt that the top 5 challenges for businesses now are recruitment (40%), high demand for products/services (33.9%), supply chain difficulties (27.5%), staff retention (26.4%) and staff mental health & wellbeing (22.7%). While it is impossible to know if these challenges would have been different in the absence of a pandemic, it has likely contributed to them.

The survey discovered that between May and October last year over 73% of respondents found business encouraging, positive or extremely positive with 56% of employees having made a full return to the workplace and 26.8% with a mix of remote and office-based workers. Since then the government reintroduced stricter measures including working from home where possible, while COVID cases spiralled leaving many organisations understaffed. With the latest government announcement about the easing of rules there is hope that businesses will be able to bounce back and have a more optimistic outlook and a period of recovery.

It is clear that organisations are aware of the challenges they face, particularly when it comes to employee mental health & wellbeing and HR compliance & culture. What remains to be seen is whether business managers and leaders can start to effectively address some of these challenges.

This survey features in The Workplace Journal, a report which brings together all the important issues for workplaces in 2022. Download a copy of the free report which provides a wealth of information to guide and positively shape your organisation.

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