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HR Professionals Share Top Priorities

EverythingHR Staff | 01/06/2022 | Blog

The cautious optimism of 2021 seems to be giving way to the hard realities of 2022 as HR leaders consider their priorities for the new year.  The battle for talent, the ever-changing knowledge, skills and abilities required in the current workplace and the emphasis on genuine and accountable diversity, equity and inclusion are all shaping the overall strategic approach to managing employment practices.

It is not same old same old this time around!

Please continue to our blog, as we take an insightful look at some of the top priorities HR professionals are identifying for 2022.  It is a fascinating slice of history and one that might be interesting to look back at retrospectively over the next few years.

Ready for 2022? Sizing up Priorities and Trends for HR in the New Year

The coming of a new year can spark reflections on lessons learned over the last year as well as looks ahead to the future. Those who study the workforce have been looking at what HR professionals are thinking about and acting on as they continue to navigate a changing workforce. So, what issues are on HR’s mind? Just to name a few: the labor shortage, skills development, and workforce diversity.

Tackling the Labor Shortage

In a recent company blog post, asset management firm Mercer released a list of priorities for HR in 2022 and included an item called the “great reckoning.” Mercer notes that its research conducted in the summer of 2021 shows that millions of workers planned to leave their jobs, and many did just that.

But breaking the statistics down, the researchers concluded that the percentage of workers who were considering leaving varied across different demographics. Minority and low-wage workers and those in front-line industries were found to be much more likely to consider leaving than white-collar workers with higher incomes.

The researchers found that hourly workers want more than just a pay increase. Many are reevaluating what’s important to them in the wake of the pandemic and are no longer eager to return to working in the same way.

“Ensuring pay is competitive is the minimum action that employers must take in 2022,” Mercer’s post says. “To successfully attract and retain an adequate workforce, an employer needs to provide to their entire workforce the benefits and perks previously reserved for the salaried employee.”

Building Skills

Research and advisory firm Gartner recently released its “Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2022,” which showed 59% of the more than 500 HR leaders surveyed named building critical skills and competencies as their number one priority.

The Gartner report says many HR leaders are trying to predict the skills employees will need to ensure organizational success, but that kind of predictive approach often results in organizations investing in the wrong skills.

The research notes there has been a 6.3% annual increase in the total skills required for a single job in IT, finance, or sales since 2018. Also, nearly one in three skills needed for a job in 2018 will not be needed by 2022.

The report says skills-based organizations should structure their talent strategies around skills, not just roles, to result in a more adaptable workforce.

Mercer’s list of HR priorities for 2022 also mentioned a focus on skills—in particular the importance of considering what kind of skills an organization needs to attain agility. The Mercer blog post pointed out that the pandemic taught that skills are key to business transformation and organizational resilience.

“One in three global organizations is accelerating upskilling or reskilling programs in response to COVID-19,” the post says. “In doing so, they recognize the value of their people—the vast potential of each individual to leverage his or her existing skills to add value beyond their current role and learn new skills in response to changing needs.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mercer’s list of priorities placed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the top. The company cited its October 2020 Mercer Global Survey showing 74% of companies around the world were increasing their focus on DEI near the end of 2020.

Most of those companies were reviewing their practices related to hiring, performance management, and succession planning to identify and mitigate potential biases.

Gartner’s year-end report also identifies DEI as one of the top priorities, with 36% of HR leaders reporting they struggle to hold business leaders accountable for DEI outcomes.

The report identifies low diversity in the leadership pipeline as a problem. The company reports that in the United States, women make up 29% of the C-suite, and racial minorities make up 17%. Women make up 41% of midlevel and senior leaders, and racial minorities hold 25% of those positions. Women make up 56% of frontline employees, and racial minorities hold 31% of those jobs.

“Progression of underrepresented talent stalls in the middle,” Gartner’s report says. “They experience slower rates of promotion and worse perception of leadership potential.”

Gartner calls on organizations to adopt a consequential accountability strategy on DEI. “Many organizations currently focus their DEI approach on collective accountability, but that doesn’t produce real results on DEI outcomes,” the report says. “HR should hold leaders accountable, using a DEI approach that leads to consequential accountability.”

Article courtesy of content partner BLR.  Author Tammy Binford writes and edits news alerts and newsletter articles on labor and employment law topics for BLR web and print publications.