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Workplace trends: predictions for 2022

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·7-min read
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Workplace trends: predictions for 2022
Employees will be empowered to demand more from their employers in 2022. Photo: Getty

The UK job market and the way people work have undergone unprecedented change during the last 18 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout 2021 companies had to adapt to the challenges brought about by the pandemic including employee burnout, remote work, labour shortages and record levels of employee turnover.

Looking forward to the New Year, job and employment expert Glassdoor has revealed its workplace predictions for 2022.

Hiring won’t be easy

The 2021 job market was characterised by labour shortages across many sectors. 

As customer demand experienced a quicker-than-expected rebound post-lockdown, employers faced acute hiring challenges as employees slowly trickled back into the work force. 

The increased competition for workers has made it difficult to both hire and retain employees. 

The combination of an ageing population, disrupted immigration, workers re-evaluating their priorities due to lifestyle changes during the pandemic and the strong recovery in customer demand means labour markets will remain tight throughout 2022, according to Glassdoor.

Read more: Amazon's £3,000 joining bonus to avoid labour shortages

Many workers left their jobs in 2021 as the pandemic reminded people of the importance of a good work-life balance. For others, having more time at home led them to reflect on what they want from work, encouraging them to pursue a dream job or find more meaningful work. Living through a global crisis has also brought into question whether we should live to work or work to live.

This, along with low levels of unemployment due to the impact of the furlough scheme and high numbers of job vacancies, will force employers to be creative when it come to hiring and retaining staff in 2022.

Glassdoor predicts that employee engagement "will be critical and companies should look to unlock new talent pools by seeking out overlooked employees such as remote workers, recent retirees, workers with previous experience in a different field, less-abled people or those with a criminal history."

Next year will be the "expansion phase of the recovery where employers should expect a slow grind of trying to pull workers from the sidelines back into the labour force, rather than snatching up available laid-off workers."

Changes such as the withdrawal of the furlough programmes or the implementation of new visa programmes to attract European workers post-Brexit are unlikely to make a big difference.

Instead, employers will have to think in the long-term by offering incentives such as shifting from offering temporary hiring bonuses to permanent wage increases.

Employees will be empowered to demand more from their employers.

A worker delivers goods from a lorry that is advertising driving and warehouse vacancies to a business in Leicester Square in London on October 13, 2021. - A shortfall in HGV drivers has sparked fuel shortages and fears of empty shelves in supermarkets over Christmas. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The 2021 job market was characterised by labour shortages across many sectors. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty

Remote work will boost access to top talent but at a higher cost

The pandemic made remote working ubiquitous and many more employers are now looking at how to expand their talent pools through remote hiring.

Shifting into 2022, businesses which previously had plentiful supply of local workers may find themselves short as people turn to remote opportunities.

This increased competition means employers will have to provide more attractive offers. Glassdoor predicts this will lead to many companies boosting salaries in 2022. 

But it remains to be seen how this will impact established location-based pay policies many employers already have in place. London-based employees in the UK have historically seen much higher wages than their peers in other regions.

The question is: Will major companies insist on paying a location-adjusted salary or will they offer a higher salary to prevent losing top talent to a competitor?

Read more: A third of UK workers would take a pay cut to work from home permanently

Glassdoor predicts that more employers, especially in tech, will reduce location-based pay adjustments as they compete against other companies for workers.

Smaller, local employers may also need to pay more as major companies acquire local talent as remote workers.

Employers will prioritise D&I action and accountability

Many businesses have set goals and made pledges around diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the past two years, in response to 2020's Black Lives Matter protests in the US and several other movements around the world.

Employees should expect to see progress and substantive action from companies in these areas in 2022, otherwise the "goodwill engendered by goal-setting will begin to wear thin", according to Glassdoor.

UK companies with more than 250 employees must already share information about their gender pay gap, with many opting to add extra information on why their gender pay gap exists or what they're intending to do about it.

The law doesn't require any other demographic reporting but many companies are now choosing to do so voluntarily.

 Demonstrators gesture while holding Black Lives Matter placards during the anti-racism protest.
Demonstrators held speeches and took the knee outside Downing Street in solidarity with England football players; Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho, following the online racist abuse the trio received after the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Demonstrators holding Black Lives Matter placards during an anti-racism protest in London. Many businesses have set goals and made pledges around diversity and inclusion, in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and several other movements around the world. Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Glassdoor predicts increased D&I transparency in 2022, which will highlight progress and incentivise accountability.

"While transparency alone cannot solve challenges to D&I, heightened transparency can deepen the conversation, helping to establish, analyse and track gaps while also providing the tools to discuss and learn more about challenges and solutions," said Glassdoor.

Almost three quarters (72%) of job seekers and employees said a diverse workforce was an important factor when evaluating companies and applying for jobs, a Glassdoor survey found.

Companies that don't invest in D&I will risk losing out to competitors — a particularly important consideration at a time when finding and retaining talent is so difficult.

Employees will be empowered to find out more information about their companies and their industries, and use that information to push their employers to do better.

Workplace community will expand beyond company walls

Employers increasingly compete for talent by highlighting employee engagement and the workplace experience and culture as the bond between employee and employer has intensified during the last decade.

Many companies previously used the physical office to create a sense of community, offering attractive in-office perks.

However, high levels of remote working in response to the pandemic has made staying connected increasingly difficult.

Read more: 1.3 million Londoners prepared to 'quit their job' due to commute

Going into 2022, when the flexibility offered by remote work is valuable for employees, companies will have to place special attention on maintaining and enhancing employee connection and community.

A quarter (26%) of employees has felt less connected to company culture and their boss during the pandemic, according to a recent Glassdoor survey.

Younger workers have been hit particularly hard, with 40% of employees aged between 18 and 24 feeling less connected to company culture and 45% less connected to their boss. 

In August, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said young people would help their careers by working in the office and that they risked missing out on enhancing their skills and work relationships if they worked from home.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak gestures before delivering a speech during the annual Conservative Party Conference, in Manchester, Britain, October 4, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
In August, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said young people risked missing out on building skills and work relationships if they worked from home. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Sunak worked in finance, including banking giant Goldman Sachs (GS). He said he still maintained relationships with his early mentors.

"I doubt I would have had those strong relationships if I was doing my summer internship or the first bit of my career through Teams and Zoom. That's why I think, for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable," he said.

This desire for community stretches beyond the company or the workplace – reaching others in the industry, the profession and social media has enabled deeper connections with professionals from around the world.

Read more: Gender pay gap exposes unequal UK as women earn 40% less than men

In 2022, employees may look for professional communities outside of their own company, or ask their employers to do better in supporting them. 

Supporting, engaging and retaining employees in 2022 will require "being nimble, keeping a pulse on employee needs and responding to feedback in a quickly changing environment," said Glassdoor.

Employers will need to "get ahead of the curve by recognising that many employees are looking not just for a job, but for a career and a community."

Watch: How to create the perfect CV

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