Learning & Development

Q&A: Workplace Trends to Leave Behind in 2022

As important as it is to predict, adapt, and embrace change, it’s just as important to recognize when the past should stay in the past. Workplace trends are constantly changing. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial to put a strategy to rest than let it overshadow new trends.

I spoke with Babak Varjavandi, CEO at Nakisa, about the future of work. We discussed which workplace trends leaders should embrace in the new year and, more importantly, which workplace trends to retire.

HR Daily Advisor: As companies determine workplace strategy for 2022, what are the workplace trends that took shape in 2020 and 2021 that companies should leave behind?

Varjavandi: An important learning from the last year is that employee well-being must be prioritized above all else. While this has always been true, the rapid shift to remote work due to the pandemic has caused many business and HR leaders to reevaluate priorities, with employee well-being top of mind. There were many new workplace trends that were implemented in 2020 and 2021—virtual events, hybrid work schedules, workforce upskilling—but some proved to be more beneficial than others. Business and HR leaders should consider leaving three particular trends behind:

1. Only looking local for talent. Gone are the days of working in the office from 9–5 every day of the week. The line between work and home has increasingly blurred, and employees will not accept going back to the traditional model of work. A 2021 report from global talent mobility company Topia found that 82% of employees believe that teams should be built based on experience and skill sets needed, not location. As a result, it has never been easier for companies to expand their talent pool and go global.

Companies must embrace a global workforce in 2022 to combat domestic worker shortages and remain competitive in the war for talent. Fortunately, we have the HR tools necessary to manage organizational design for remote and distributed workforces. Not to mention, looking outside your local jurisdiction for talent and going global can not only help business objectives, but also increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

2. Prioritizing hiring new talent over retaining talent. There has been a wave of employee resignations over the past year—better known as the Great Resignation. A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September 2021, leaving employers struggling to find new talent. As employees explore new opportunities, companies are offering higher and higher salaries to remain competitive and attract talent. However, companies will be at risk of losing their top talent if they do not have a plan in place to account for salary compression challenges as a result. Companies that give current employees the same benefits that are offered to new employees will come out on top.

3. The assumption that remote work results in decreased productivity. Many reports have come out over the last year declaring that employee productivity suffers in a remote work environment. However, before removing remote work policies altogether, business and HR leaders need to consider their company culture in a remote work environment. If managers demonstrate trust in their team and offer employees the flexibility and autonomy to get their work done when, where, and how they want, then employees will be productive.

HR Daily Advisor: What is the best way for business and HR leaders to gauge which workplace trends they should consider implementing in 2022?

Varjavandi: Employee input is the most important factor to take into consideration when determining workplace strategy for 2022. As the Omicron variant causes more uncertainty around the future of work, ensuring that employees feel safe and supported will continue to be crucial. Distribute anonymous surveys for employees to freely express their feedback and concerns, host town hall meetings for employees to hear from leadership and have a dedicated space to ask questions or share feedback, and ensure managers are fully aware of their team’s priorities for 2022.

On a more tactical level, business and HR leaders need insight from HR and workforce analytics before implementing any new strategies. This technology gives HR insight into employee performance and the ability to track the progress of HR initiatives to see which strategies are working and which ones need updating.

HR Daily Advisor: What are the trends you’re personally embracing and leaving behind as we enter 2022?

Varjavandi: At Nakisa, we are embracing many of the trends I named. We are investing more in our culture and our talent. We are listening to employees when they say remote work enables them to have a healthier work/life balance and overall greater productivity but still have a desire to bond and collaborate with teammates in person. In 2022, we are planning to offer office space for employees to use as needed, specifically for the purpose of live collaboration and brainstorming.

We also have a “flexible hours” policy that we plan on continuing in 2022. By setting core working hours from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., we are empowering employees to design a schedule that best fits their lifestyle. This is further supported by Gartner’s recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey, which found that organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where, and how much they work see 55% of their workforce as high performers.

By embracing this new world of working and finding ways to say “yes” to employee requests rather than “no,” we are demonstrating the trust we have in our employees and our commitment to overall employee well-being, which ultimately has a positive impact on our business objectives and bottom line.