4 Trends That Will Shape Employee Experience in 2022
2022 began with continued uncertainty about what's in store for this year. The volatility of the past two years have made it extremely difficult for business leaders to plan and execute on their strategy.
Now, there’s widespread talk about “the new normal,” and a clearer picture of what the future of work looks like is emerging. And it's not based on hypotheticals but on what we’ve experienced since the coronavirus first appeared. From furloughs, layoffs and voluntary departures, to confinements, remote work and the acceleration of digital transformation journeys, the dynamics of the events of the past two years have laid the groundwork for what leaders can expect in the year ahead.
With that in mind, here’s a roadmap to 2022.
Employees Find a New Balance
Employees began voting with their feet in 2021, leaving their jobs in record numbers — without even another position lined up. Between March and July 2021, 19 million workers quit their jobs, 7 million more than during the same period in 2020.
What pushed these workers out the door? Burnout, a lack of flexibility and not feeling valued, according to employee-experience firm Limeade, based in Bellevue, Wash. Dr. Laura Hamill, the company’s chief science advisor, said the “mass exodus” from current positions signified “a societal breakdown” to the interlocking focuses on work, home and well-being.
Given the scope of what has become known as the Great Resignation, it’s no surprise that many employers expect talent acquisition to be challenging during 2022. According to New Providence, N.J.-based XpertHR, 79 percent of employers believe employee retention will be a particular slog this year, while 67 percent report having serious concerns about workforce planning.
To keep their employees onboard, leaders will need to do more than tweak their retention strategies. Research by internal talent marketplace Gloat revealed that better pay and more growth opportunities, among other things, will be necessary to encourage employees to remain in place.
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Recruiting Talent from Within
“The current supply of talent is simply not meeting existing demand,” said Dan Davenport, CEO of Randstad RiseSmart in San Jose, Calif. “Due to the high cost and overall difficulty of recruiting in today’s labor market, organizations are recognizing the numerous benefits internal mobility can offer.”
They really have no choice. The number of employees leaving their jobs in recent months is unprecedented, reaching 4.5 million in November 2021 alone. It’s one reason why efforts to move current employees to new positions within the business have taken on a certain urgency.
According to Randstad RiseSmart’s Q3 2021 Career Mobility Outlook report, nearly two-thirds of employees, or 63 percent, want their current employer to consider them for new opportunities. Yet, 54 percent don’t believe their company gives enough consideration to their future interests.
At the same time, fewer than half of employees (43 percent) feel they’ll be able to find a new role within their company. That number is down from 52 percent during the second quarter.
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Another complication: Just 48 percent of employees believe their managers are open to their taking a new role at their company. This is particularly interesting because 78 percent of employers report being open to the idea of employees moving around. In fact, employers overwhelmingly said they plan to fill existing job openings with internal candidates. About 71 percent said they plan to fill up to half of open jobs internally.
Recruiting technology vendors have picked up on the trend. In October, iCIMS unveiled its Talent Cloud Opportunity Marketplace, a module that connects employees to internal job opportunities and helps them build a long-term career within their company. SAP SuccessFactors rolled out a similar initiative with its Opportunity Marketplace solution, which provides personalized recommendations to support workers’ growth and increase an organization’s agility. And Cornerstone OnDemand released Cornerstone Xplor, which delivers an integrated, personalized approach to learning, skill development, growth and career mobility.
HR Tech Impacts Employee Experience
The COVID-19 pandemic has led managers to think of the employee experience as a dynamic that’s impacted by more than workplace culture, teammates and HR. Leaders realize now that the way workers interact with departments across the organization and the tools they use to get the job done matter significantly as well.
As a result, nearly every touchpoint between employers and the workforce is now regarded as part of the employee experience. Early in 2021, industry analyst Josh Bersin said HR tech was in the process of shifting to “work tech.” He predicted the industry would spend much of the year seeking to improve EX through work-based apps that are easy to use and integrate neatly with existing tools.
And, indeed, as the recovery got underway, employers doubled down on their investments in workforce solutions, according to data from HR software provider Ceridian. In fact, more than two-thirds of them planned to invest in human capital management and employee experience technology during the year.
There are several reasons behind this: For one, those immediate talent needs employers face. For another, many businesses have embarked on longer-term digital transformation initiatives. And, of course, there was the pandemic, which made improving employee experience a top priority for 94 percent of employers, according to a spring 2021 Willis Towers Watson survey. That number is up from 54 percent before the pandemic began.
WorkForce Software found that many companies simply aren’t keeping up with changes to HR tech. For example, just half of employees access an online portal to track time and attendance, while 56 percent said they use outdated methods — such as wall clocks, paper forms and punch cards — for time tracking.
That impacts perceptions. Employees who use online portals believe their company offers more scheduling flexibility and is more supportive of their personal circumstances, noting the adoption of more immediate contactless screening.
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Access to Tech Through a Single InterfaceWhile HR technologies blur the line between the workforce and work, software vendors pay more attention to how their products contribute to the employee experience. In Bersin’s words, this all highlights the importance of technology tools to most anything that’s work-related.
In his annual HR Technology report, Bersin predicted the industry would begin to focus on improving experience through easy-to-use apps that integrate with existing tools. This “EX layer” includes communications, surveys, case and knowledge management as well as platforms that simplify the building of workflows, chatbots and portals.
This represents a significant change in the HR tech landscape, Bersin said. HR systems can no longer be limited to siloed payroll, benefits administration, LMS platforms and similar platforms tied into talent management solutions. Instead, vendors will have to develop ways to access learning, communications and collaboration through a single interface.
“The overall strategy is to make more and more HR technology ‘disappear’ — that’s to say, make it useful to employees, managers and leaders and improve your overall employee experience,” Bersin said. “If it fits into our day-to-day work life, we’ll find it valuable, and HR will benefit. If employees find it to be an interruption and we have to learn how to use it, the verdict is simple: companies won’t gain as much value from it.”