Disruptive HR Trends: What You Need to Know Heading Into 2022

Human resources professionals have experienced their fair share of disruptive HR trends in the past couple of years, but that disruption isn’t slowing.

The pace of change is only picking up, and the latest trends indicate that 2022 will bring more pressure on HR to design strategic solutions to overarching labor problems. Companies are laying out their post-pandemic business strategies, employees are resigning at record rates and, amid the upheaval, we still need to identify leaders to take our companies to the next level.

HR plays a vital role in solving these challenges. Here are some of the disruptive HR trends you need to be prepared for in 2022.

HR Must Become a Partner to the Business

During COVID-19, HR’s role in driving the business strategy has been reactive. For decades, HR professionals have been working toward their “seat at the table,” but the pandemic really brought HR to the forefront in a big way. Among the biggest disruptive trends will be the business’s increased reliance on HR to make strategic talent management decisions related to internal mobility, engagement and retention.

In 2022, HR will proactively look at the business strategy and develop a talent strategy to support business priorities. This requires a conversation between HR and other business leaders, who must come together to set the business strategy for the future of work.

Companies Need to Prioritize Employer Branding and Experiences

The labor market will remain employee-driven in 2022. Employees are resigning at record rates, and turnover is projected to remain high. Employers will have to revisit their branding and value propositions to retain their top performers.

HR will have to design a total rewards strategy that drives retention. Developing clearer paths for internal mobility, for example, can help keep employees engaged and moving forward within the company. Additional benefits to attract employees include support for mental health and financial wellness, as well as additional paid time off for religious observances and bereavement.

HR leaders will have to focus on building a company culture that enriches employee experiences and feeds their sense of purpose. “It’s such a time of uncertainty,” says Ralph Kellogg, Assistant Vice President of HR at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. “You have to make the work environment as certain and inviting as possible.”

And it’s not just the employee experience you need to think about. Candidate experience will remain a priority in 2022, especially if the labor market remains tight. Recent research from Talent Board found that 57% of candidates shared negative experiences with their inner circles, and 32% shared negative experiences publicly online. Conversely, 75% and 50% shared positive experiences with their inner circles and publicly online, respectively.

The experiences you provide can have a significant impact on your ability to continue attracting top talent.

Companies Will Have to Redefine Leadership

The workplace itself will continue evolving in 2022. Artificial intelligence and HR technology disruptions will remain constant. As companies decide their long-term remote and hybrid work policies and the workforce continues to evolve, HR must help redefine the qualities needed to lead in these changing circumstances.

In digital environments, managers will need to facilitate work and support employees without micromanaging them. In performance management conversations, for example, managers should be able to help facilitate work while staying alert to signs of burnout.

“Soft” skills such as emotional intelligence will be important to seek out and foster in future leadership candidates. “It takes intention to check in with [employees] and make sure that they're OK,” Kellogg says.

The composition of the workforce is changing — across generations, abilities and other demographics. To lead diverse workforces, leaders themselves need to come from diverse backgrounds.

With so many disruptive HR trends converging in 2022, HR professionals have opportunities to step up and lead their workforces forward.