As the new year begins, it’s a good time for HR and Payroll teams to reflect on the trends and tools that got them through 2021. It’s also the perfect opportunity to look forward and predict how our current working practices might evolve and change in 2022. 

What new softwares and processes have come to the fore in the HR space over the last 12 months that might revolutionise the sector this year? What could we, as HR and Payroll teams, adopt early to give ourselves the best chance of success as we enter 2022?  

The last two years have brought about unprecedented changes to HR teams and businesses in general. As we move through the pandemic and begin to emerge from the other side, the world of work many of us have been used to has disappeared. In its place we have hybrid working, remote management and dispersed teams. 

These new developments have led to new changes and trends in the HR and Payroll space that we can adopt early to help our departments flourish. In this article, I’ll list the top four trends in the HR and Payroll space we’re keeping our eyes on in 2022. These trends look set to reshape the sector and adapting to them, or adopting them early, could be the catalyst your HR department needs to push it to the next level.    

The 4 HR trends you should keep an eye on in 2022. Adopt these early and put your HR department ahead of the rest

Business is always evolving. New trends and tools come and go and the only way to keep up with the latest developments in your sector is by staying ahead of them. You should always be scanning the horizon to see what new practices, legislation and processes could affect your industry and team. 

As we’re coming out the other side of a pandemic there’s been no shortage of legislative changes and business practices to stay ahead of. If anything, it’s been tricky for us to narrow down this list of trends to just four. But we wanted to give you the most impactful list of trends that we believe will really shake up the HR and Payroll sectors in 2022. Check out the trends you should be keeping an eye on below.  

Building an agile HR team is more important than ever

Change is something businesses normally veer away from. Change brings uncertainty and uncertainty can eat away at profits. Change and innovation in the workplace are things both business leaders and employees generally don’t like. 

Adopting new processes is hard. Creating a workplace environment that is open to change is a big undertaking and can require a wholesale culture shift within your organisation.

It’s no surprise then that most business leaders and employees enjoy the status quo. Everyone knows what they’re doing and the results they’ll achieve. Yes, new processes could be more efficient, but in general, uncertainty around their success means no one is willing to adopt them.  

The above paragraph was definitely the approach to change and innovation most businesses had pre-pandemic. But with the arrival of lockdowns, furlough and work-from-home, that entire ethos had to shift. Change was thrust upon a lot of companies and many UK businesses became reluctant participants in the biggest work-from-home experiment in UK history.   

This had two major impacts on HR teams and businesses in general:

People realised that agility was essential in the 21st century as things out of your control can happen fast. Being able to adapt to problems as they arise is crucial to a businesses success, so fostering a positive mindset in your organisation is a must if you want it to thrive.

Business leaders realised change wasn’t as daunting and debilitating as they first thought. In fact, the benefits and innovations change can bring often outweighs the risks involved. This further reinforced the importance of change in business leaders minds and created a more agile mindset in companies. 

As we move into 2022 the changes to working practices and processes show no signs of slowing down. As more and more companies get used to the idea of the positive effects of innovation we’re likely to see more experimentation with tools, working practices and processes by leadership as they try to maximise the profitability of their employees. 

All this equals more work for HR departments as they help set up remote workers, manage distributed teams and keep communication lines open with management and staff to make sure they’re happy and engaged at work. With things moving fast the HR team needs to move fast too. 

Be aware of change fatigue 

Whilst change and innovation is a good thing for keeping the ideas flowing in your business, too much can cause fatigue. Change fatigue is the burn out employees feel when they’re spending an inordinate amount of their time learning about new platforms and processes instead of doing their actual jobs. 

Many people felt this in the first lockdown when companies scrambled to get on Zoom, Slack and other management softwares. There’s only so much change people can take at one time. Overstretch this and you risk employees disengaging with your company. 

As the HR team you should always be monitoring the amount of change happening in your company at any time. If people are feeling or looking burnt out make sure you step in to get to the root causes of their frustrations. If it’s too much change maybe it’s time to put the breaks on your latest initiative. 

Personal development and growth are at the top of many employee want lists for 2022

Everyone wants to work for a company that’ll invest in their development, and good employers are normally happy to reward productive staff with training allowances and teaching to help them do their jobs better. 

This is nothing new, but in 2022 we will see an increased focus in employee skill development. This will be driven by employees too. Prior to 2021 finding a company that would actively invest in a staff member’s development was a nice-to-have for many job seekers. It was an added bonus they got after receiving a job offer. But in 2022 in-house skill development will become a must for any company looking to hire the best talent. Why? 

As we detailed in our previous point, change and innovation are going to be crucial to a businesses success in 2022 and beyond. If you want your employees to be constantly innovating, you need to provide them with the necessary training to adopt new technologies quickly. 

Employees know this too. They know in a rapidly shifting company they can’t afford to stay still. They want companies that will support them and help them stay relevant as job roles shift, disappear and develop into new ones. 

By embracing this desire for skill development your business lets employees and potential hires know you’re dedicated to their job satisfaction in the long run. By supporting staff training and making sure employees are equipped as best as they can be for their job, you’ll develop an inquisitive and healthy workplace culture that’ll lead to happy staff and less turnover

For HR teams this means training and development should be a big consideration for you in 2022. Managing employee growth, understanding the career paths each member of your staff would like to go on and regular reviews on how employees feel they’re progressing in your business is essential if you want your staff members to be engaged and happy at work. 

Noticing when your business onboards some new software will be important too. Managing the training for this new platform will likely be the job of the HR team so keeping your eyes and ears open for new processes and products entering your business should be something all HR leaders need to be doing in 2022. 

HR teams should increase the scope of their yearly planning

If you told someone at the end of 2019 that we were going to enter a two-year global pandemic they would have either laughed at you or shrugged it off and said it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. Pandemic’s never happen, these global, society changing events are the stuff of films not real life. 

Fast forward two years and how different our world has become. We honestly don’t know what’s in store for us around the corner and we’ve seen first-hand how things out of our control can really impact how we do business. As we move into 2022, businesses and HR teams will be expected to plan for a wider range of scenarios and events that could impact a business. 

While things like global pandemics are thankfully very rare; aging populations, changing education levels and where people are choosing to live can all affect the medium to long term planning HR teams will need to do.   

High tuition fees for UK universities combined with poorer student experiences across the board, mean less people are getting degrees. If your company requires university educated employees, this is a serious scenario you may need to plan for. 

Also, the pandemic has led to an increase in remote working which has seen workers move away from cities as they can get cheaper rent and a better quality of life in the countryside. If your business wants people working 9 to 5 in the office how are you going to manage this problem?   

These are just two examples of the macro trends in recruitment and the jobs market you’ll need to pay attention to in your HR team. Monitoring and preparing for many eventualities is something that’ll be expected of HR teams more and more as we go through 2022. The pandemic may be on its way out but the ripple effect it’ll have on businesses will need to be managed for years to come.   

Hybrid work will become the new normal

“The new normal” how many times have you heard that phrase. If you were to pick a slogan that summed up the pandemic it’s definitely up there with “unprecedented times”.

But the new normal is here and things really have evolved from what we were used to pre-pandemic. People have realised that working from home isn’t just viable but also, in many cases, employees are happier and more productive. 

As restrictions eased and workplaces began to open up again, many workers’ didn’t want to lose the advantages and benefits they gained from remote working. This has led to the adoption of hybrid working practices where employees split their time between the office and home at a ratio that’s agreed by both the business and themselves. 

Whilst hybrid work is great for workers’ mental health and overall productivity, it falls to the HR team to make sure they’re getting the most out of working from home. Remote working can be quite isolating so setting up clear lines of communication between workers and the business is the job of the HR team. 

Checking up on employees and making sure they’re doing ok is another role that HR teams will need to adapt to now that you can’t simply pop over to a person’s desk. HR technologies will be essential in building a remote culture and allowing for smooth communication between employees and management and all of this will need to be managed by the HR team. 

This blog was written by Phase 3, they are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Consulting & Advisory Partner floor of the Partners Hall. You can visit their virtual space here