PRM Consulting
Roadsign at sunrise

Three Continuing Trends for 2022

Atlanta Greg Robertson

1. Pay attention to retention

The labor shortage being reported as The Great Resignation will continue to shine a spotlight on employee retention. If people are your competitive advantage, you simply can’t afford an avoidable ‘brain drain.’ While many organizations are responding with higher pay increases, leading organizations recognize they must find more ways to make the case that staying is better than going.

Start from where you are.

Every organization has a purpose. Engaged employees are aware of their organization’s story and the rewards (tangible and intangible) associated with fulfilling the mission. 

Assuming you know where your organization stands now, map a strategy to attain and proclaim success. If you’re not sure of the status quo, it’s time to find out. How competitive is the direct pay program? Do benefits focus on what people really value?  A targeted rewards study can go a long way to benchmark your position and identify shortcomings. As workers ask for higher wages and have an increased expectation for soft benefits like workplace flexibility, the pressure to keep pace with the labor market is not going away any time soon. 

We’ve seen more and more organizations look to remain competitive by engaging in compensation studies and compensation restructuring. 

— Jim Moss

Show employees the value of total compensation. 

Education should be foundation of all your communication. Make your communication simple, direct and personal. For example, total compensation statements have always been a great way to show direct pay, healthcare coverage, retirement savings and often a host of ancillary benefits. Now they are also becoming an important tool to foster employee loyalty. 

Being perceived as a leader in pay and benefits makes a big difference in recruiting new talent and keeping the talent you’ve already developed.  

— Gregory Davis

 2. Deliver better employee experiences

More than two years into dealing with the impact of COVID, the world of work has been turned upside-down. Finding a ‘new normal’ remains elusive and the right mix of remote and in-office work remains up for debate, but there is no question workers crave greater flexibility to balance work and their lives beyond work.

Some emerging employee expectations:

1.     A majority of workers want more training from their employers.  

2.     Employees want to be heard by leadership more than ever

3.     Employees want flexibility where and when they work.

4.     The office experience is still valuable for interaction and collaboration

5.     Shorter time in a role before advancement or job change

Developing communication strategies that engage with worker’s expectations will help retain and attract talent. Looking for feedback from employees allows two-way communication that can foster loyalty. Clearly defining and educating workers about training opportunities shows how an organization invests in and values its workforce. Robust collaboration options preserve productivity with more flexibility if leaders are trained to successfully adapt their management styles.  

3. Flexibility, with all its challenges, is the new norm 

Remote workers can struggle with engagement. 

For many jobs, work-from-home arrangements have matched (and even increased) productivity, decreasing the need for extensive office space. What’s more, flexibility and remote working remains popular. 72% want to work remotely at least part of the time. 

However, converting remote employees into fully engaged employees is not easy. Remote workers are 16% less likely to feel that their managers include them in goal setting. New hires are even more of a challenge. Many employers say onboarding has suffered, and very few executives think a distinct culture will survive in a remote-only environment.

What replaces in-person interactions?

The impacts of social isolation due to the pandemic is still being determined. For those capable of working from home, this includes the workplace. While things are improving as work slowly return to normal, the persistence of remote working continues to present challenges. The science behind workplace interactions is compelling. In-person work interactions can make senior to junior  knowledge spill-over possible while boosting innovation and cooperative behaviors. Can this be replicated virtually?

Replicating office conversations and encounters for remote workers in a meaningful way is difficult. Leaders need to make the effort to hear employees ideas about goal setting. Frequent check-ins to keep everyone focused have an added dimension with remote workers. Every interaction is now key. Leaders are responsible for making virtual connections positive and productive. 

Organizations must adjust to leverage all forms of communication to the virtual environment. As technology advances, virtual communication will help define expectations, policies and culture, but for now the gap between employer and employee work-from-home needs remains large. Supervisor recognition, for example, is a key metric for worker satisfaction (and retention) and that remains true for remote workers. 

With fewer in-person touchpoints, it’s not surprising that some employers struggle to keep remote working from feeling like a side gig.

All this adds up to make hybrid work models something that will last. Maintaining these arrangements and making them permanent will present abundant new challenges and opportunities. Ultimately, it will be on the next generation of leaders to step up and manage not just differently, but more effectively.   

Looking ahead

Staying ahead of trends will require organizations to be nimble. Benchmarking pay, benefits and employee perceptions is a good place to start mapping a strategy for success. Are total rewards competitive? Are some benefits misunderstood? Do areas of the employee experience trigger turnover? Improvements may be in order, and communication is essential to ensure the organization’s employee value proposition is clear. Time will tell how fundamentally the world of work has changed. For now, it’s apparent that organizations taking action to connect with and engage their workers will be best adapted for the future.