Checking in on Our 2022 Workplace Predictions: The Workforce Institute Weigh-In

This month, The Workforce Institute Weigh-In checks in our 2022 Workplace Predictions to see if we successfully forecasted five of the biggest trends facing HR professionals this year. If you aren’t familiar with our predictions, you can download the full report here prior to reading below.

The Workforce Institute Weigh-In for August 2022: Now that we’re more than halfway through the year, how are we doing on our 2022 Workplace Predictions? What did we get right? Wrong?

“When I look at our predictions, two different responses come to mind. For companies with good profitability, the predictions feel reasonably accurate. There is a lot of concern about the employee value proposition (EVP) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG). However, for companies that are struggling ... well, it just feels different. All that ESG and EVP stuff takes a back seat to how they make payroll next month. It’s not that these companies don’t recognize that in an ideal world having, for example, a great EVP could pay off — it’s just that, at the moment, they don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do a whole lot on that front. They just have to sort out the problems of today. For some companies, a proactive, people-centric, and socially conscious approach is a priority. For other companies, difficult short-term concerns will drive their actions.” — David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research

The prediction on employee expectations challenging employer capabilities is absolutely coming true, particularly with respect to flexible work structures. We continue to see a tug of war between employers who want people back in the office and employees who have gotten accustomed to managing their lives with remote work. It’s difficult because some jobs actually need to be done in person, but these employees understandably want greater flexibility too. It can be a lot for an organization to manage. I would not say I’m seeing as much employee apathy as I’m seeing burnout. As we approach the last quarter of 2022, people are stressed about work and their mental health is precarious, but I wouldn’t say they don’t care about their jobs or organizations. They simply have more limited emotional bandwidth to cope with life in general. As for manager training and mentorship programs becoming critical for talent retention, this is an area where there’s a lot of interest and discussion in 2022, but I’m not seeing the uptake of comprehensive manager support programs (particularly for middle managers) as rapid as I’d like. These initiatives are increasingly critical, sure, but I still see a lot of middle managers floundering, and although most of the time their immediate bosses are supportive, there really isn’t much of an organizational infrastructure beyond the typical employee assistance programs (EAPs).” — Alexandra Levit, author, “Humanity Works”

The prediction about employee expectations changing is true and continues to hold true. Job openings remain high and quit rates, while leveling off, have not fallen. Employees are looking for increased pay and then additional benefits like flexibility, hybrid work arrangements, and ideal schedules. Top businesses continue to increase people-centric experiences through HCM self-service options and by listening through surveys, town halls, and focus groups. Listening to employees allows businesses to hear the needs of employees and meet those needs to improve the employee experience. If done well, employees will notice, feel valued, and increase their sense of belonging, which helps retention in this tight labor marketManagers continue to feel like there’s too much on their plates, with employee turnover increasing, more work demands, and higher burnout. Helping managers do better at managing allows them to improve their skill sets, which can boost employee morale and their sense of belonging. Most managers are working managers and have their own individual-contributor responsibilities, so it becomes difficult to be a good manager on top of everything else they need to accomplish. But a good manager can help retain employees, which makes the manager’s job a little easier because there is lower turnover within their own team.” — Dr. Chris Mullen, executive director, The Workforce Institute