State of HR | The biggest challenges facing HR in 2022, according to over 100 professionals

The biggest challenges facing HR in 2022, according to over 100 professionals

Every year, team Natural HR takes to the virtual streets to uncover the views, thoughts and opinions of HR leaders from across the UK. In a fascinating annual report, we take a deep-dive into the people profession and examine the trends, challenges and priorities facing HR teams in 2022 and beyond.

This year’s ‘State of HR’ survey looks ahead to the next 12 months and yields some fascinating insights into the profession. After a year which brought with it the ‘great resignation’ and continued surges in remote and hybrid work, 2021 was, in its own way, just as challenging as 2020 was for HR leaders.

In this article we take a look at the three biggest challenges facing our people teams in 2022 and beyond.

Challenge #1: Recruiting talent

In the latter stages of 2021, the quarterly CIPD Labour Market Outlook study found that almost half (47%) of employers reported that they had vacancies that were hard to fill. What’s more, 1 in 4 predicted that the number of vacancies that would be difficult would fill to increase in Q1 of 2022.

While industries such as hospitality, tourism, arts, construction, healthcare and manufacturing continue to battle coronavirus cases and restrictions, the lasting impact of Brexit is still being sorely felt by many.

Interestingly, the task that is high on HR’s priority list also tops the list of their biggest challenges in 2022. 45% of respondents cited the recruitment of talent as the most difficult task for the year ahead.

As the supply of labour shrinks, many employers have adopted tactics to combat the challenges they are facing around recruitment such as raising wages, upskilling existing staff and hiring apprentices.

Recruiting talent didn’t even feature in the top three challenges for HR leaders in last year’s report, being cited as a challenge by just 28% of respondents. Therefore, it is clear that the perfect storm of the ongoing pandemic and Brexit has made the lives of HR and talent teams harder than ever before when it comes to attracting quality candidates to fill open vacancies.

66% of respondents shared they had been impacted by recent staff shortages in the UK and of these, 56% stated that staff turnover has increased, 42% have had to use agency staff or temporary workers to fill gaps and 33% have offered more training for existing staff to upskill and support short-staffed departments.

Challenge #2: HR inefficiencies and admin

Furthermore, 42% cite inefficiencies and admin as a significant challenge in 2022. Ever-changing guidance around the pandemic, surges in the number of COVID cases and the changing legislation surrounding the recruitment of employees from outside the UK has led to a huge administrative headache for HR professionals. Thus, causing a number of inefficiencies while HR’s time is taken up by admin rather than focusing on strategic initiatives that add real value.

As employers around the world continue to navigate the ongoing challenges that COVID is causing, the very nature of the pandemic makes planning ahead very challenging. While employers and employees alike are more accustomed to eleventh hour announcements, changing guidance and safety measures today than they were in early 2020, the fast-changing nature of work is causing inefficiencies and a significant increase in administrative work for HR teams.

With vaccines and boosters being rolled out, there is hope after a very challenging time for many, and a return to some kind of normality is on the horizon. However, a low Christmas trading period has left many businesses (retail and hospitality in particular) in a perilous position during a very testing time. As a result, the chance of a return to a ‘normal’ world of work has been stifled.

Challenge #3: Employee engagement

While many continue to work from home or adjust to a hybrid model, maintaining employee morale and engagement is key to continued success. It’s not surprising that while the vast majority of HR leaders are prioritising employee engagement in 2022, 32% cited it as their biggest challenge.

In 2022, this is not employee engagement as we know it. Many HR leaders have had to find entirely new and novel ways to engage their employees and ensure their spirits are kept high while they are working.

Interestingly, the areas that HR finds the least challenging are on/offboarding employees (3%), compliance with legislation (4%) and data security (10%).

Throughout the last year, HR teams have clearly adjusted to the changing nature of the profession. This study also found that almost a third (31%) of HR leaders introduced new tools and technology to digitise HR processes in 2021. The move to a tech-driven department will have supported many with the areas that are low on the priority list. HR tech and a digitisation of the department will have undoubtedly aided in streamlining on and offboarding, ensuring complete compliance with legislation and safeguarding confidential employee data.

To download our 2022 State of HR report in full, in which we delve into the views, thoughts and opinions of HR leaders from across the UK and examine the trends, challenges and priorities facing HR teams in 2022 and beyond, simply click here.