What’s in store for the people profession in 2022?

From finessing hybrid working policies to adapting recruitment strategies, Ross Seychell explains what will be top of HR’s ‘to do’ list this year

As we close the door on 2021, the world is returning to a semblance of ‘normal’, but uncertainty still remains. With seismic changes in ways of working still being digested by businesses, the role of HR will be to help drive recovery, guiding both employers and employees into a new era for the workplace. So as the world of work continues to evolve, what’s in store for HR?

HR will be crucial to finessing hybrid working

We saw many office-based companies establish hybrid working models in 2021 as offices slowly opened up without fully letting go of new remote working privileges. But the challenge for businesses has only just begun. With restrictions easing once again, the time has come for companies to work out any kinks and finesse their working policies, keeping that ‘test and learn’ mentality that has been adopted over the past couple of years. For example, does the workspace suit hybrid working in practice? Are people being as productive as they need to be?

To manage this successfully, employers must listen to their people. And here, HR will be a crucial partner to businesses. As the vital link between people and business leaders, the HR function is in a unique position, working in the interests of both sides. HR managers will need to invest time in collecting feedback from employees and the senior team, and focus on optimising their programmes to ensure they’re in tune with everyone’s needs.

Employers will need to adapt to recruit in a tight talent market 

As the ‘Great Resignation’ continues to rumble on and the labour market tightens, candidates have the pick of the bunch and can afford to be selective. It’s not just benefits and salary policies that are under scrutiny. There is also a ‘Great Re-evaluation’, with current and prospective employees reassessing the types of businesses they want to work for in the context of personal purpose and values. What organisations stand for is becoming just as important as the benefits, culture or careers they offer.

Meanwhile, the disruption of working patterns has led to greater demand for increased flexibility – whether that’s for contract, freelance, remote roles, or flexible hours.

As a result, the spotlight will be on HR to spearhead employer branding initiatives that will help their business stand out from the crowd and attract the best talent – from benefits packages to flexible working or wellbeing policies, to developing attractive and authentic value propositions for employees.

Having great talent will be crucial for businesses to successfully bounce back from Covid. But employees must be motivated, happy and supported in order to stay put, and candidates need to have a compelling offer. Here, HR will need to be a truly strategic partner to the business. HR managers will need to advise employers on the best ways to not only attract the best talent, but also retain existing talent. If they fail to do so, businesses will, to put it bluntly, lose talent to those who do it better. Amid fierce competition for talent, the role of HR has never been so important to many businesses.

Keeping the ‘human’ in human resources

Year on year, businesses have been increasingly digitising and automating tasks to improve productivity – with the pandemic fuelling this even further. And while HR has often lagged behind other functions – such as sales or accounting – when it comes to digitisation, we expect to see HR catching up in 2022. 

But, new technologies also pose a new challenge for HR teams. In a world that is ever increasingly turning to digital and remote solutions to work-based problems, the question will be, how can we keep the ‘human’ in HR?

To navigate this new working environment, HR teams will be vital to understanding the changing priorities of their employees and maintaining the human touch of their people function – whilst also evaluating where tech or automation can add greater value. 2022 will force HR to redefine its purpose and its role, and set in motion a new era for the industry and world of work.

Although the new challenges that the year brings may seem daunting, there has never been a more exciting time to work in HR. We have the potential to change the world of work for the better, and set in stone a new way of working that is truly in tune with employee needs. 2022 is set to be a momentous year for HR – so buckle up.

Ross Seychell is chief people officer at Personio