Let’s start with the most important news, the ultimate trend, so to say: A corporate culture of trust and humanity prevails over all other trends in 2022 or serves as a guideline for them. In uncertain times, caused by climate change, Corona, and inflation, companies should function as a safe haven that provides stability and security. A place where people feel seen – even at a distance. At the same time, companies are affected by these changes economically and must realign their products and processes.
Both developments influence each other: Companies that are putting sustainability and climate neutrality at the forefront of their actions are paying attention to the wishes and goals of many people, thus creating trust and identifiability. In turn, people who feel they are in good hands in an organization are motivated and productive and are more likely to act as drivers of change and innovation.
What other major trends are emerging in the connection between people and organizations for 2022? – From our point of view, these ten:
1. Hybrid work
The past two years have shown that it is possible. Now it’s time for companies to develop permanent models for hybrid work and make them an integral part of their corporate culture. Flexible and location-independent working should no longer be merely tolerated. Employees should be actively encouraged to choose their place of work in a way that suits their needs and tasks. This requires a range of options – from working from home or a coworking space to the regular office space that provides the essential genuine encounters and personal exchanges between colleagues.
2. Internal talent mobility
Companies will have a tough time meeting their demand for new skills and competencies through external recruiting alone. This makes it all the more important for them to take a closer look at their employees. Which skills are already available in the company that were previously unrecognized? Where are hidden talents lying dormant? In which areas do employees want to learn more? Finding this out is the first step toward steadily increasing talent mobility within companies. Studies have shown repeatedly that employees are eager to develop themselves further. For many, it is even a prerequisite for staying with a company. In 2022, reskilling should not only be offered selectively but be strategically anchored in the company culture and made easily accessible.
3. The new role of HR (Tech)
What HR means nowadays became very clear during the Corona period. Employees in this area are no longer just recruiters and administrators. They are consultants and companions, crisis managers, digitalization, and learning experts. They give employees a voice in the company and are at the pulse and heart of the organization. Capturing the voices and moods in the company and assessing the quality of the employee experience is no longer intuitive, but will be even more data-based in the future. To do this, HR is developing processes and tools to gather feedback and understand what employees need to feel good, be productive, and be willing to work collaboratively. People Analytics FOR the People, the ethical collection of employee data, its interpretation, and translation into activities that focus on the people in the organization, is an indispensable part of HR work in 2022. In addition, department managers act as important direct points of contact between the “HR control center” and the employees and must be strengthened in their role as mentors and coaches. Here, too, HR is called upon to provide support and to fill management positions with the right candidates. In this way, they can track down and develop talent on a decentralized basis, and HR no longer has to control everything “from above” and can devote more attention to strategic issues relating to workforce planning.
Taken together, all these activities ultimately play a decisive role in determining whether a company can attract and retain talent, thus ensuring its success. This demanding role of HR must be reflected in the internal structures. In this context, Josh Bersin speaks of a new understanding of HR as a professional service organization with consultants, product managers, service employees, and tech experts, who should always be at the table as partners of the management in important decisions.
4. Informal learning within companies
Learning should be possible anytime and anywhere. This requires new learning formats. Microlearning is gaining ground and enables employees to become teachers themselves and pass on their knowledge to colleagues in a short time with the help of digital tools. Short video formats along the lines of TikTok will probably continue to gain in importance and secure a permanent place in corporate communications. In addition, employees need the opportunity to exchange information with colleagues from other departments on a low-threshold basis. A digital learning and networking culture is a must in 2022!
5. Talent management á la Netflix
Know your users and make it irresistible for them to use your system! Hardly any other company has perfected this as well as the streaming provider Netflix. In 2022, talent management should just copy this brazenly and, with the help of smart and ethically collected data (keyword: bottom-up), find out what the talents within the company can do, what they know, and what they want to learn, thus creating irresistible learning and development opportunities.
6. People Cloud: People learn from people
Say goodbye to Excel spreadsheets and hello to the People Cloud! Where people continuously update their skills and requirements themselves, because they benefit directly from matching with colleagues and offers, and no one has to spend hours maintaining Excel spreadsheets. The People Cloud is fed by the employees and provides the HR team with a database to which they can align their work for the people in the organization as well as external recruiting.
7. Work on Demand
In other countries, it has already become normal to hire, borrow or share talent. More and more companies are working with freelancers to respond flexibly to new challenges and bring new knowledge into the company. These “gigs” not only work with external parties but can also be directed at the company’s own workforce. This gives employees the chance to try out new areas for a while or to take on responsibility for projects in which their skills are particularly useful. Internal gigs are part of an active learning culture and promote the formation of dynamic hierarchies. This means that responsibility and decision-making power are no longer firmly tied to a position, but change depending on the task and team constellation. Work on demand is thus an important driver for breaking down inflexible silo structures and making companies agile.
8. Goodbye “Native Boomer Z”, Hello “New Leadership”!
Companies that are serious about diversity and inclusion are bidding farewell to labels like “Generation Y,” “Boomers” and “Digital Natives”. Instead, they see people as they are and where they stand, and create conditions under which employees of all ages and genders and in all phases of life can help shape and develop their careers. In this context, “human-centered leadership” also means creating new tools, learning formats and work models easily accessible to everyone, and promoting a culture in which employees approach each other with curiosity and openness. That leadership roles must be equally accessible to women, men and non-binary people should be a non-issue in 2022. #becauseits2022, dude!
9. With pilot projects to a digital strategy
Digitization and New Work can not be learned from a textbook, but by gaining experience through trial and error. Pilot projects are a wonderful way to initiate major changes with little risk and test new tools or processes for a limited period of time. Ideally, companies link various small to large pilot projects together and develop a holistic digital strategy from them that is closely related to company practices. #goforit remains the motto of the year in 2022.
10. Working less, but better
New Work has failed – let’s tackle it! That could become the guiding principle for 2022. Despite the infinite possibilities offered by digitization, far too many people are still permanently working at their limit and hardly have any time for all the interests and needs that are still lying dormant in them. The 40-hour week has reached its expiration date. Many goals can be achieved with less, but smarter, more collaborative work. But only if the constant collaboration with different teams does not become a burden in itself. Companies need to train employees in the use of digital tools as well as in communicating with each other, for example, when it comes to giving appreciative feedback or turning down requests from colleagues. The resulting freedom will bring us a huge step closer to the original idea of “New Work,” in which paid work takes up less space in favor of what people “really really” want.