Happy New Year! 2022 is here! Last year, we started the year with a review of HR Trends and decided that we should do it again this year! However, this year, instead of highlighting workplace wellness trends for 2022 that we are seeing, we want to discuss things that organizations should be doing. Luckily, some companies are focusing on these areas but not all.
Our current work environment is very unique and companies need to adapt. While ‘the Great Resignation‘ is a bit of a misnomer, employees are re-examining their career choices. People are not willing to put up with bad workplaces in the same way they did before. Many organizations are struggling with retaining employees and finding employees for their open roles.
So, what can companies do? Everything we talk about is super relevant right now. Focusing on workplace wellness is critical to create a thriving work environment. Specifically, this year, we believe that companies need to focus on culture, support mental health, continue creating flexibility, and grow inclusive leaders.
Focus on Culture
The first of our workplace wellness trends is a focus on culture. Retaining employees in this current workforce climate can be very difficult. However, we know that happy employees are not only more productive, but they are also more likely to stay.
Imagine a workplace where you are respected, empowered, and given growth opportunities. You are allowed to balance your work and life in a way that works for you. You are able to learn from mistakes instead of facing criticism or punishment. Your colleagues and leaders accept you for who you are. Basically, imagine your dream workplace. If you worked in this type of environment, would you leave? Yes, eventually, you may move for a major career step or to do something different. However, you will probably stay for a while. You aren’t likely to look for other jobs.
Thus, we think organizations need to spend time to build and maintain a strong, positive culture. Employees are looking for those great places to work and don’t want to put up with nonsense any longer. Remember our discussion on decent work? Companies need to pay competitive salaries, of course. But, throwing money to retain people isn’t going to cut it anymore. Helping people create a positive and thriving work and life is more important!
Mental Health Support
Companies also need to focus on supporting mental health. While creating a positive culture will help, creating a supportive environment for mental health specifically is important. The pandemic has opened up discussions in the workplace around mental health but companies are not there yet. We need to fully eliminate the stigma around mental health at work. People take time off for physical health ailments all the time and the discussion around that tend to be much simpler.
We can do so much better for mental health. Companies should consider mental health days in their time-off policies, better coverage for therapy, and flexible schedules to allow for therapy time. And that’s the bare minimum. There’s so much more companies can do but at least it’s a starting point. We hope more and more employers take some strides toward supporting mental health more effectively in 2022!
In addition to providing flexibility for mental health care, companies need to continue their overall focus on flexibility. The pandemic pushed organizations to allow for remote work and we know it can’t be taken back now without retention issues. Like last year, companies need to continue defining what their flexible work environment will look like, taking employee input into account.
COVID is still messing up our plans and companies need to continue to adjust and adapt accordingly. Many back-to-office plans have been spoiled with new variants. Leaders need to be flexible with employees’ work preferences and needs as the pandemic continues, while also planning for the future of work. This work should be highly tied to the culture work described above. Leaders can’t take away flexibility without facing challenges. Instead, empower your employees with continued flexibility and hybrid work. Then, you can reap the benefits of retention and happier workers!
Growing Inclusive Leaders
The final workplace wellness trend we hope to see is a focus on inclusive leadership. The events of 2020 led to a renewed focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which continued through 2021. We think that, this year, the focus will move past the basics of D, E, & I and move towards creating a strong inclusive leadership team. Of course, if you don’t have the basics, every company should start there. But, to elevate a companies’ efforts, leaders need to become truly inclusive. Organizations will need to provide training and growth opportunities to help develop leaders. The benefits of having a truly inclusive leadership team are endless. It’ll help retain and attract the best talent, create a positive culture, enhance employee wellness, improve commitment to the company, and increase performance!
Our hope for 2022 is to see companies focusing on these 4 areas. We really believe these 4 areas will help make companies stand out and set them up for success in the workplace environment we are in today!