What will be the top HR challenges for businesses in 2022? HR consultant Kate Marchant lists her 7 top HR challenges that small businesses should be anticipating in the coming year.
I think we can all agree the last two years have been pretty exceptional and challenging, with so many people impacted in different ways as a result of the restrictions imposed on us all to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The world of business has been impacted in a phenomenal way and it may well be the case that working life will never revert to how it was. The pandemic has brought about a change of emphasis for many people, having a knock-on effect for many businesses regardless of size or industry.
7 top HR challenges for 2022
With the above as context, what might be the top HR challenges for businesses in 2022 as we emerge, somewhat battered and bruised, from the various lockdowns? Here are some thoughts from me on the 7 top HR challenges we’ll be facing this year…
1. Mental health and wellbeing challenges
Mental health issues are at the highest level they have ever been and this will be a challenge for all businesses to manage in 2022. Over the past two years, people have had to come to terms with grief, loneliness, isolation, job loss, financial issues, and the general fallout from these difficult years. People are re-evaluating their lives and what makes them happy and this includes having higher expectations of their employers about how they will support their mental health.
If you haven’t already, it really is key to have a Mental Health and Wellbeing strategy in place that supports all employees and helps foster a culture of putting employees’ mental health and wellbeing as a top priority. This is not just about implementing initiatives (which are a key part of any such strategy), it’s about taking a holistic approach for the long term and covering areas such as:
- Management support with regular catch ups
- Managing workloads to prevent burnout
- Performance management framework and feedback cycles
- Introducing mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes (EAP)
- Training for management on proactively supporting employees to prevent issues arising
- Creating a strong learning environment
- Taking an employee-centric approach around returning to the office – remember a blanket approach will not suit everyone
2. Recruitment strategy
The UK is currently facing a record number of job vacancies, so if you are looking to recruit in 2022 careful consideration needs to be given to your recruitment strategy. For example, where will you source candidates, what will be your approach, and how will you attract the right type of candidate? Right now, it’s a candidate’s market out there!
3. Employer brand challenges
This is a biggie! It has links to both recruitment and retention. From a recruitment perspective, candidates are looking beyond the salary and role – they want to know how you will support their mental health, whether you offer flexible working, what you do around corporate social responsibility and the environment. Increasingly, people are looking to work for businesses whose values align with their own.
Establish your employer brand – what is your identity and how will you stand out from the crowd? You need to stand up and make yourself known… many businesses are writing blogs, articles, doing podcasts, webinars, and even taking to TikTok in order to get their brand out there. Such activity really helps to build brand awareness and if people like what they see, they are more likely to want to work for you.
4. Retention challenges
Not only do we have a high level of vacancies right now, but there is also the ‘great resignation’ to deal with! Employees are expecting more from their employer in pretty much all aspects of employment, from remuneration and benefits to where and how they work and what support is given around wellbeing and a work life balance. An organisation’s culture has a massive part to play in retaining your employees. How do you know how your employees are feeling about their work? Why not carry out an engagement survey to find out? Action plans can then be drawn up to address any issues.
5. Flexible working expectations
An output of recent times means there is a higher expectation around flexible working. Obviously, it depends on the type of business as to how far you can integrate flexible working. However, the key here will be to understand what your employees are looking for in terms of flexibility – a blanket approach will not necessarily be the right one, so a strategy which seeks to have conversations with employees to understand what works for them and tailor solutions around needs, is more likely to be successful.
6. Reviewing performance management cycle and policies
2022 is a timely point to review how you manage performance, as what you have in place may not be fit for purpose or relevant any longer – especially when we consider how the working landscape has changed in the last few years and the shift of emphasis to managing by output. Not only this, but there is a growing trend towards more regular performance conversations, as opposed to the traditional annual appraisal. Many employees feel a more regular approach is less intimidating and more motivating and employers find more frequent performance conversations helps to keep things fluid and enables adaptability if business priorities change.
7. Updating your employee benefits
The benefits an employer provided pre-pandemic may now need to be reassessed and recalibrated for the post-pandemic era. With more people potentially working at home the offering of a season ticket loan may not be as popular as it once was; similarly, the office canteen may not be needed anymore and discounted membership of the gym opposite the office may not be relevant anymore.
2022 will see many HR challenges and the above are a flavour of what the world of employment may well be facing in the coming year.
Written by Kate Marchant
Kate Marchant is an experienced HR professional and CIPD Associate Member who offers straight talking HR solutions for SMEs with friendly and jargon free advice through her consultancy Running HR Ltd.