HR Megatrends 2022

Emerging trends impacting the global workforce

Each year UKG brings together an international team of researchers, social scientists, and business leaders to identify the most significant trends impacting the global workforce.

HR Megatrends 2022

The goal of HR Megatrends 2022 is to gather valuable resources and insights that provide a glimpse into the future to help you prepare for what’s coming next.

Nobody could have predicted a global pandemic.

Nobody could have predicted a global pandemic.

But many of the associated workforce challenges organizations have been grappling with over the past few years — skills and labor shortages, business continuity challenges, climate change, and more — have been looming on the horizon for decades. 1Smart organizations have learned that they must pay close attention to emerging trends so they can be as agile as possible to maintain business continuity during times of uncertainty or dramatic shifts in workforce indicators.

#1 – The Growing Influence of Gray-Collar Workers

Workforce conversations have traditionally centered around either white- or blue-collar workers, overlooking many crucial, and growing, subsets of the workforce. Gray-collar workers exhibit a unique combination of physical and technical skills, such as healthcare, field engineers, and warehouse automation, making their skills difficult to fully automate with high-projected job growth.

The Growing Influence of Gray-Collar Workers

65% of the top 20 fastest-growing roles are gray-collar opportunities

Gray-collar employers are among those struggling most to attract and retain their people due to pandemic-related burnout, demand for remote and hybrid options, and an aging workforce — in addition to the general labor and talent shortage. Organizations will need to focus on understanding and investing in this specific segment to remain competitive. We have some suggestions.1

#2 – The New Ethics of Leadership

We’ve entered a new era of social activism. Employees and customers alike expect organizations to embrace hot-button issues such as social justice, ethical AI, employee wellbeing, and climate change. Employees’ standards are high, especially amid a historic talent shortage.

The new ethics of leadership

The use of employee surveillance technology grew 100% from 2020-2021

Being an “employer of choice” has never been more challenging. Valuing the relationships and voices of employees, trusting them in the new virtual and remote world of work, putting people before profits, and overcommunicating through challenging times are several pillars where leaders must commit.2

#3 – The Rapidly Changing Compliance Landscape

The speed with which new workforce legislation rolls out has been steadily increasing since 2008 — a trend that was further amplified during the pandemic. With increased OSHA activity, vaccine mandates, and heightened lawsuits, the compliance landscape looks like it will only continue to become more volatile.

The rapidly changing compliance landscape
Employer fines and penalties increased 92% from 2018-2020

To stay agile, HR and business leaders will need to completely rethink their approach to compliance. What’s more, we anticipate businesses will eventually be required to report on their environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics, so we suggest leaders gain visibility into their figures as soon as possible. These are currently voluntary, but don’t be surprised if you see them becoming mandatory, standardized, and audited within the next decade.3

Dr. Jarik Conrad, VP of Human Insights at UKG

“In 2022, high-performing companies will lean into their commitments to change — changing the way they recruit employees, changing the status quo through more ethical and inclusive leadership, and changing mindsets from tackling today to investing in tomorrow. We invite all organizations to commit to necessary change for an even brighter future of work.”

Dr. Jarik Conrad
VP of Human Insights at UKG
Your better tomorrow starts today

Learn how our HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions help you achieve a better work experience for all your people.

Learn more about our award-winning culture

1 Fastest Growing Occupations, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found at

2 Tatum Hunter, Here Are All the Ways Your Boss Can Legally Monitor You, The Washington Post, September 24, 2021, found at

3 Penalties, Fines & Audits for Employer Compliance in 2021, New City Insurance, July 22, 2021, found at