November 24 2021

Workplace trends: 10 predictions for 2022

What will the workplace look like in 2022? We share our workplace predictions to highlight some of the trends that will feature heavily in 2022. 

All workplaces naturally evolve. However, in the wake of COVID-19, the rate of change has exploded. 

The future of work reveals a different landscape. What we have experienced over the last 18 months or so has been a power shift in the relationship between employers and employees.

Employees are demanding more. As a result, workplaces must both listen and act to successfully attract and retain the best talent going forward. 

Here’s a look at ten workplace trends for 2022:

1. Employers will work harder to combat ‘The Great Resignation’

Employees now expect more from their employer. If they don’t receive what they expect, employees are far more willing to simply walk away and secure employment elsewhere. 

According to a report by recruiter Randstad UK in 2021, 69% of employees are confident that they can easily secure a job elsewhere. 25% are planning to do so within the next 3-6 months.

Typically, the number of employees looking to change jobs within this timeframe would be as low as 11%. So the increase is certainly significant. 

The sectors most affected by ‘The Great Resignation’ include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Hospitality 
  • Logistics

Many employers are feeling the effects of increased employee turnover rates. But by re-aligning employee rewards, benefits, and working conditions with employees’ needs it’s possible to increase engagement and loyalty. 

2. Hybrid working: A divide will emerge 

The COVID-19 pandemic led to an unprecedented shift towards home working. The Government’s message was clear; everyone who could should work from home. 

Since the return to the office, many employers have adopted hybrid working, with varying mixes of home and office working. 

Many employees welcome the flexibility that comes with home working. Yet insightful research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests a divide has emerged between home and office workers. 

The ONS’‘Homeworking hours, rewards and opportunities in the UK: 2011 to 2020’ report reveals that employees mainly working remotely were:

  • Less than half as likely to be promoted
  • 38% less likely to receive a bonus

This is hard to understand when the same reports also reveals that those working from home:

  • Had lower levels of absenteeism
  • Worked more unpaid overtime 
  • Were more likely to work into the evening 

Employers must address this growing divide between the way that homeworkers are perceived to prevent potential favouritism towards office workers. 

3. Employees will retrain to beat automation 

The pandemic has forced employers and employees to adapt. Unable to fulfil face-to-face roles, many employers adopted online working and discovered a whole new way of collaborating.

Employees had to change too. In some cases, elements of employees’ roles were absorbed due to the growth in automation. Employees responded by expanding their knowledge and skills, and even retraining to enter a different occupation. 

This trend towards professional development and re-training is actually perfectly timed. A report from McKinsey & Company in 2020 reported that by 2030 around 14% of the world’s workforce will lose their jobs because of automation or AI.

4. Employees will fight more for what they want

The job market has transformed in the wake of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, employees have the confidence to ask for more when it comes to their jobs. 

Employees are demanding greater flexibility, better benefits, an improved work-life balance, and increased pay. This is a trend set to continue well into 2022. 

Driving this confidence to become more demanding is the record number of job vacancies in the UK. 1.1 million vacancies were recorded between August and October 2021. 

With such high volumes of vacancies, employees have a greater choice when it comes to getting another job if their current employer isn’t meeting their needs. 

5. Salaries are on the rise

The job market evolution has also put increased pressure to boost salaries to retain talent.  

During the pandemic, some workers had pay rates frozen. But now we have emerged from the cycle of lockdowns, employees are no longer willing to accept this.

The Government is set to increase the living wage to £9.50 an hour from April 2022. This is in part due to rising inflation. 

Beyond this, many sectors are forecasting pay rises. Research indicates that employees will receive an average pay increase of 2.9% in 2022. Employees in the media, leisure, and hospitality sectors are anticipated to benefit from the highest increases. 

6. Employers need to ‘rehire’ their employees 

With ‘The Great Resignation’ of 2021 came an increase in employee turnover. 

Employment uncertainty plagued people last year on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in 2021, greater stability emerged for many sectors along with increased vacancies and a deep desire for a better work-life balance. 

All of these factors led to lower rates of employee retention. This is unlikely to change in 2022. 

As a result, employers will need to effectively rehire their existing employees by revisiting their rewards and benefits packages. This will re-engage employees at risk of leaving for a better opportunity.

7. Wellbeing weeks: The antidote to burnout?

This is one of the most concerning workplace trends set to happen in 2022.

Pandemic-driven home working brought flexibility and a sense of freedom to many. However a more unwelcome consequence has also emerged. 

Almost half of managers surveyed are worried that their staff may be at an increased risk of burnout because of the change in working patterns as a result of the pandemic. 

Increased rates of burnout is partly due to the fact that more of us are working at home. With this, boundaries between home life and work life have become blurred. Smarter technology means we’re always connected. 

That’s why 2021 has seen a trend for wellbeing weeks. This is essentially when a company shuts down for a week and forces employees to take time off. LinkedIn and dating app Bumble were among several UK companies that provided staff with so-called ‘burnout breaks’.

Some UK companies have also taken a different route to addressing burnout, by offering unlimited annual leave. 

8. Increased engagement: A culture of listening

The future of work is where employees have a voice. Employees have a fundamental need to feel listened to and for their employer to take onboard their feedback. 

Increasing numbers of employers are turning to employee surveys to understand the impact that the pandemic has had on employees. 

Employee surveys are a valuable resource because they have two main benefits: 

  1. They give employees a voice, which helps them feel valued. 
  2. They give employers valuable knowledge in how their employees are feeling and what they can do to boost engagement.

Resources such as Gartner’s recommended questions for employee surveys may be useful to help identify the most important areas to cover when it comes to an employee survey. 

With resources like this at their fingertips, employers in 2022 that act on employee feedback are more likely to have a workforce that feels valued and listened to. Improving core areas of employment, such as benefits and pay, makes it more likely that employees will remain loyal and stay with your business. 

9. More employers will build artificial intelligence into work processes

We’re seeing more and more automation in the workplace. Of course, this was unavoidable. And this shift towards automation will only continue to grow in 2022. 

It’s an uncertain time for the UK economy right now. As a result, some organisations are planning to transform their operations to deal with the lasting consequences of Brexit and COVID-19.  

Adopting artificial intelligence and automation allows businesses to work smarter by redesigning work processes. In fact, research by McKinsey and Company revealed that two-thirds of businesses are looking to increase their investment in this area. 

Call centres, grocery stores, and warehouses are already using automation with impressive results. Just take a look at Amazon’s fulfilment centres that use algorithms to speed up the packing process.

10. Tech will be integrated into wellbeing strategies

Given the concern around employee burnout, another workplace trend will see employers embracing innovative ways to monitor their employees’ wellbeing.  

Wearable tech such as smartwatches can track heart rates and body temperature. Using smartphone apps, employees can be encouraged to report their mood and essentially act as a warning if things take a wrong turn. 

This type of technology allows employers to monitor employee physical and mental wellbeing. In 2022, employers are likely to embrace wearable technology. But will employees be as keen? 

It’s evident that there are three major driving factors behind workplace trends in 2022:

  1. Lasting work behaviours adopted to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic 
  2. Impact of Brexit on everything from supply chains to financial support 
  3. Technological advances like AI

While businesses know how to handle risk, not everything can be foreseen. That’s why the most successful employers are those with a people strategy that filters through to every aspect of their business.

How we can help

When it comes to boosting employee engagement and reducing turnover rates, offering your employees on-demand pay can be a win-win solution.

On-demand pay allows employees to access a portion of their earnings when they want to cover unexpected costs. This financial buffer helps to reduce financial stress which can distract employees and lead to increased rates of absenteeism.

If you would like to find out more about how on-demand pay could help your employees with zero cost to your business, please contact us.