The business world has been turned upside down thanks to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions. Challenges such as WFH (Working from Home) and COVID safety protocols were foreseeable to some extent, but who’d have thought we’d be dealing with the ‘Great Resignation’ here in New Zealand? Other disruptive forces at play in the workplace include:
Employment law changes
These challenges will touch on many areas of business: employment and industrial relations, talent management and human resources or people management in general. So here are some workplace predictions for 2022,
and how can leaders successfully respond to them.
Jobs will be redefined
The great resignation may be overstated, but NZ businesses will undoubtedly experience ‘the great migration’, where some employees will change jobs for better pay or a more satisfying role. The holiday period is typically a time of reflection about work/life balance, and you may find some employees returning to work with new ideas about how they’d like to work. Leadership teams should embrace this desire for change and help their people to find greater satisfaction within the organisation through dynamic talent management practices.
Working from home is here to stay, and I expect many NZ employers will encourage hybrid work arrangements that still provide social contact and personal connections to flourish. Leaders can ensure this approach is successful by actively maintaining regular engagement with their workforce, remote or otherwise.
Digital is the new reality
While lockdowns and Covid restrictions had negative consequences for many businesses, one of the positives has been the adoption of digital technologies.
I believe digital tools will continue to improve and mature in 2022, enabling many other workplace changes such as more sophisticated remote collaboration, virtual meetings and online recruitment.
The efficiencies brought about by new digital workflows can sometimes result in lower workforce requirements, and HR leaders need to handle these transitions with care. A learning and development program is vital so businesses can redeploy skilled people to new areas of the organisation. Employing and training new team members can be more expensive than retraining the existing workforce, so hiring and promoting from within the organisation will be especially important this year.
Be kind to your people
A welcome trend that's set to continue is a more human-centred approach to management and leadership. 2022 will be about leading people, in order to lead businesses effectively. Employees want to be inspired and empowered. They want an employer that demonstrates empathy and provides a safe and happy work environment. Retaining employees is no longer just about paying them more; it’s about recognising their needs. This could include childcare solutions, flexible hours or opportunities to upskill. Inflation is predicted to significantly impact the cost of living this year, so I think businesses can expect increased wage and salary pressure. This requires creative approaches to manage remuneration and benefits.
Success will be measured differently
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of community and belonging within business organisations. Future success will be measured not just by financial results but also by how well the company performs in metrics like diversity, sustainability, and equity.
With the Omicron variant impacting businesses globally, NZ businesses and leaders need to be prepared and NZ people leaders need to have clear people leadership strategies for 2022 in order to attract and retain talent and compensate for the restricted labour environment.
For many SME’s - having a dedicated HR person is not a viable option, and they typically spread the responsibilities of people management across other leadership r's a trend for smaller organisations to outsource their HR to specialists who can help them develop systems that minimise employment issues and improve performance.