The three biggest questions HR leaders will face in 2022
HR leaders have dealt with many unprecedented challenges over the past year, and as we head into 2022, fast-evolving developments in the people and talent arena continue to redefine what it means both to be an employer and an employee in a post-pandemic world.
These include the continued shift towards remote and hybrid working models, “The Great Resignation”, and a stronger focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) at the workplace, among others.
We are all aware of these trends, and many HR leaders have contributed their views and perspectives on them over the past few months. However, in my recent conversations with business leaders over the holidays, three big questions around employee engagement and retention continue to stand out.
I believe that these will be the key questions organisations should be paying close attention to in the new year, to better attract and retain talent amidst the growing competition.
1 How can we better recognise and reward employees in a world of hybrid work?
No “ifs” or “buts” about it; remote and hybrid work are here to stay.
In almost every country, most employees want to continue working from home at least some of the time. A recent PwC study of 32,500 workers in 17 countries offered a snapshot of this new normal: 72% of workers expect a mix of remote and in-person working moving forward. In fact, many workers would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full-time.
Much ink has been spilled discussing this trend and its implications, but one gap that has not been adequately addressed is the issue of reward and recognition.
In fact, our research has shown that recognition is the top ask from employees post-pandemic. However, rewarding and recognising employees is a difficult activity to carry out remotely, especially peer-to-peer recognition, which is less formal than a manager dispensing praise for a job well done.
As such, employers need to start practicing frequent and timely recognition to ensure that remote employees are appreciated for their work. From here, the long-term goal would be to build up a culture of recognition at their organisations, which is not only correlated with higher levels of employee engagement, but also better business performances.
Additionally, organisations must bear in mind that shifts in employees’ priorities post-pandemic have likewise resulted in changes to the nature of their preferred rewards. For example, while direct monetary compensation may have been at the top of their lists previously, employees are now increasingly calling for personalised and curated reward catalogues that can be tailored to suit their needs at the moment of redemption.
Consequently, rewards platforms and programmes have seen a rise in usage, providing a modern, streamlined solution to this perennial organisational need
2 How can we better integrate Gen Zs into the workforce?
As we enter the new year, companies can look forward to yet another batch of fresh employees entering the workforce. The youth of today – more commonly referred to as Gen Zs – are expected to make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. What is of note to organisations, however, is how studies have found this generation to be a unique group of employees, who look to more than their salaries for career fulfilment.
Unlike preceding generations, Gen Zs do not shy from expressing their attitudes about their careers, and tend to focus on issues such as values alignment, mentorship, and flexibility in working styles. They want to work for companies that are consistent with their values, such as sustainability or driving positive societal change, and may look to avoid organisations whose operating models go against such beliefs.
Furthermore, Gen Zs are also naturally accustomed to digital tools and are quick to adapt to the rate of technology changes. Many of them started their careers in the middle of the pandemic, and as a result, they highly value non-monetary rewards like mental health and work-life balance – more so than any other generation before them.
This experience places them at the forefront of leading workplace change, and it will be crucial to integrate their experiences and expectations as we design the policies and processes of the future.
3 How can we accelerate DE&I initiatives?
Today’s workforce has never been more diverse, especially in Asia Pacific, where thousands of cultures and languages call home.
Over the next year, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives will see renewed urgency as more organisations recognise their importance – not only do they serve to boost their employees’ sense of belonging, but they also contribute significantly to an organisation’s financial performance.
“Achievers research has also shown that employees whose companies value diversity, provide equal opportunities for all, and promote an inclusive environment were more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging.” – Matt Seadon, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Achievers
Companies with a more diverse workforce gain newer perspectives and innovation due to the mix of experiences, talent, and skills, therefore increasing the potential for better productivity at the workplace.
Achievers research has also shown that employees whose companies value diversity, provide equal opportunities for all, and promote an inclusive environment were more likely to feel a strong sense of belonging. This resulted in them being significantly more engaged in their roles, leading ultimately to positive business outcomes.
This journey begins at the top. Leaders are responsible for enacting change and sustaining a DE&I culture within the organisation. They may start by introducing specific diversity and inclusion training, creating more inclusive policies, and most importantly, asking and acting on feedback to understand employees’ challenges and seek to address them across the organisation.
From here, organisations should then look to streamline DE&I initiatives into other aspects of their culture, such as their recognition programmes, to tap on their mutual benefits. With twice as many employees feeling a strong sense of inclusion at companies where recognition incorporates DE&I, such an integration can triple an organisation’s likelihood of achieving their DE&I objectives, leading to greater employee and organisational outcomes.
By Matt Seadon, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Achievers