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7 Workplace Trends for 2022

7 Workplace Trends for 2022

As you look ahead to 2022, what are the most important trends you need to be aware of and lead through? Wise leaders tune into trends in workplace culture and make plans to help their organization and employees flourish. There will be unexpected issues that surface in 2022 but preparing to address likely scenarios will give your organization an advantage as it moves forward to fulfill its vision and mission.

Trend #1: The “Great Resignation” will cause organizations to fight to attract and retain top talent

People are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Since April 2021, 15 million people have left their jobs. Experts are forecasting that the quit rate will continue or accelerate in 2022. A Gallup survey reveals that 48% of employees are actively looking for a job or willing to consider a new job.

Consider:

  • The Great Resignation is not a pay problem. It takes a 20% pay increase to move an engaged employee from one organization to another. An employee who is not feeling engaged with their work will move for little or no pay increase.
  • Middle managers are at risk. Female middle managers are three times more likely than their male counterparts to make plans to leave an organization within a year.
  • Gen Z employees are at risk and need to be reenergized. They report difficulties in feeling excited about work, getting a word in during meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table.

How can you retain and attract top talent in this environment? Focus on sustaining a great culture with engaged employees. If employees have an emotional connection to their work and organization, which is how we define engagement at Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), the chances improve that they will stay and contribute to your organization’s mission.

Trend #2: Employee Compensation and Well-Being Will Be Key Issues for Leaders to Solve in 2022

As we look at BWCI’s database, issues related to employee compensation and well-being are increasing. As for-profit corporations increase entry-level pay due to a tight labor market, the gap between industry and non-profit compensation is increasing. At the same time, employees are feeling the strain of mental health issues, which puts a focus on PTO, medical, and retirement benefits.

Consider:

  • Inflation is an issue in a way that it has not been for a number of years. Last month the annualized inflation rate in the U.S. was 6.2%, the highest in years.
  • Housing costs have increased 18.6%, the largest year-long growth in the history of the Case-Shiller index, which measures this sector.
  • The tight labor market puts upward pressure on wages.

Leaders will need to address raising compensation and benefit costs in their financial models. However, the issue goes beyond pay. New research from Oracle shows that 88% of workers feel that the meaning of success has changed. Employees are prioritizing work-life balance, mental health, and having a meaningful job. The workforce is exhausted from being “on” for long hours with digital access.

Christian organizations and businesses have the opportunity to set a high standard of care for their employees with a focus on well-being, meaningful work, and appropriate compensation and benefits.

Trend #3: The skills of the front-line manager will become increasingly critical to organizational effectiveness

The front-line manager is the key link between the employee and the organization. A strong connection is at the heart of retention. BCWI research shows that front-line manager skills and impact are below pre-COVID levels. With the prevalence of remote work, employees sense that managers care less about them as people. A classic Marcus Buckingham quote is proving to be even more accurate: “People join organizations and leave managers.”

What do employees need from their front-line manager?

  • Recognition for doing a good job. Employees are experiencing far less recognition for their work than before COVID. While this is an organization-wide issue, the front-line manager can provide regular affirmation.
  • Frequent and timely feedback. Having weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with employees is an important practice. A front-line manager who listens to their employees and communicates care fosters an environment of engagement.
  • Personal opportunities for development. Employees want to learn and grow, and their front-line manager directs 70% of their development opportunities.

Great leaders have an opportunity to step up in this environment to model caring while they coach and equip their front-line managers to care for their direct reports.

Trend #4: A Hybrid or Remote-First Approach will be adapted by many organizations

The idea that work only happens in an office is not coming back. The technological tools for working from anywhere were being used pre-pandemic, and the ability to pivot to remote work for many organizations illustrated that a fixed place for work is not required. An overwhelming percentage of remote workers desire the flexibility to continue to do at least some of their work from home.

Consider:

  • Forty-five percent of full-time U.S. employees worked from home either all or part of the time in September 2021.
  • A survey of corporate leaders shows that 79% will let their employees split their time between offices and remote work if their job allows for it.
  • A Gallup survey showed that 3 in 10 employees working remotely say they are extremely likely to seek another job if their company eliminates remote work.

Rather than fighting against this trend, savvy leaders will seek to equip their employees to be successful in accomplishing their jobs, regardless of location. Support for remote work includes rethinking ways to create synergy and great communication between people and teams. Organizations that can leverage the positives of hybrid and remote work models, while mitigating the feeling of disconnect, will help their employees thrive in these now-normal settings.

Trend #5: Leaders are out of touch with employees and will increasingly rely on engagement surveys and focus groups to gather employee input and feedback

Before discounting this insight as just focused on the BCWI Engagement Surveys, note that employee surveys are a regular tool of many large corporations. Microsoft utilizes pulse surveys throughout the year and surveys more than 2,500 employees every day.

Of course, building a healthy organization through employee feedback depends on two factors: the quality of the survey, and the plan for implementing results.

The BCW Employee Engagement Survey has been tested extensively and includes statistical correlation with organizations in the Christian non-profit and church sector. Questions include biblical worldview and other unique factors of faith-based organizations.

Here is the process we recommend and use ourselves with the BCWI employees:

  • Discover: Understand the current state of organizational culture through an engagement survey, focus groups, and 360 leadership development surveys.
  • Build: Explore best practices and get a vision for necessary improvements based on the feedback. Then create an action plan to put changes in place.
  • Grow: Effectively implement the programs that will move the organizational culture toward flourishing.

We are excited about a new resource available in 2022 to help leaders develop healthy cultures and engaged employees. Our book, Road to Flourishing: Eight Keys to Boost Employee Engagement and Well-Being, is available for preorder now and will be released in the Spring of 2022 by InterVarsity Press.

Trend #6: Continued expansion of gig workers or contingent workers

Employers will continue to increase the use of contingent workers to tap into special skills, augment staff during peak seasons, and reduce costs of benefits and overhead. This trend is not new in 2022, but organizations are seeing the ongoing benefit of using gig workers.

Here at BCWI, we have been able to continue our growth by tapping into people with unique skills and strengths that we don't have on our employee team. Whether it is social media, graphic arts, editing, technical support, or administration, there are many skilled workers who are available to provide excellent work in right-sized components.

Consider how to maximize the effectiveness of your contingent workers:

  • Create gig work development plans to onboard and upskill contingent workers.
  • Design systems to evaluate gig workers and include them in team processes.

In a competitive labor market where hiring is difficult, you can try out a gig worker for a specific project with low risk. Once they have successfully completed a few projects, ongoing projects can augment your staff team and provide access to specialized skills.

Trend #7: Expanded focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Many organizations made commitments to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion over the past few years, and employees expect real progress. This was not a short-term fad, and the work is not finished.

Recently, we had a podcast conversation with David Bailey who equips and empowers leaders for reconciliation from a biblical perspective. He believes reconciliation is a discipleship process that takes reflection and self-examination, which are core spiritual practices. Christian organizations can become lights in the world by building cultures of reconciliation leading to stronger diverse relationships.

Two factors keep this issue at the forefront:

  • Millennials want to work in diverse organizations. Shirley Hoogstra, the President of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities told us on a recent podcast that the next generation after the millennials, Gen Z, care deeply about fairness. For them, diversity, equity, and inclusion are fairness issues, and they want to see them reflected in their workplaces.
  • Books dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion are racing off the shelves. Jeff Crosby, the new President of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association shared in a recent podcast that people are reading books and other materials to become educated on this topic.

Next Steps

As you think about these trends and how they impact your organization, how can you prepare yourself and your team in this season? Share this blog post and the related podcast episode with your team and discuss implications at your next team meeting. Divide your action items into short-term wins and long-term adjustments. Step confidently into 2022, knowing there will be surprises, but prepared to lead wisely in the midst of ongoing change.

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