It’s all about the people: looking ahead at the evolving workplace and employee engagement in 2022

It’s all about the people: looking ahead at the evolving workplace and employee engagement in 2022

In this piece, Andy Caldicott, CEO of employee engagement company, peoplevalue, will be exploring how the workplace has evolved over the past year and will continue to evolve throughout 2022. He will also be looking beyond the salary, at the ever-important role of company culture and employee engagement tools in attracting and retaining talent, now that employees are striving for more flexibility and the boundaries of 9-5 are no longer.

There’s no doubt that the last 20 months have seen huge changes to the world of work as we know it. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the future of the traditional workplace is less clear and lots of businesses are having to make difficult decisions about their return to work policies, and whether their teams will operate fully remotely, hybrid or on location, in the face of uncertainty. It’s a difficult landscape to navigate and it’s likely that no organisation will successfully satisfy all of its people. But, with demands coming from all corners, and job vacancies in the UK at the highest they’ve been since records began in 2001, there’s a lot of pressure on employers to react quickly to attract and retain talent. Because of this, I’m of the opinion that business leaders should be looking beyond financial goals and consider the needs of their people and the role that company culture plays in engaging, inspiring and supporting them, not just in their professional lives but in their personal lives too. Let’s take a look at some of the ways the workplace might continue to evolve in 2022:

The restoration of culture

Whilst the fallout from the pandemic demonstrated that we can work as effectively, if not more, when working remotely, it’s been proven that the culture and relationships that form the beating heart of a company are in many cases suffering – and this is having a negative impact on engagement. Connecting a company’s purpose and goals with the values and culture it advocates is vital for individual and organisational success. So, it’s likely that, when looking ahead into the new year, businesses will be thinking about how they can rebuild those ever-important relationships between colleagues, regardless of where they’re working.

Before the government guidance to work from home was re-instated in December, our team was split between our office in Oxfordshire and individuals’ homes. While we’ve come up with many different creative ways to stay connected over the past (almost) two years, we’ve certainly missed being together in person. Our social events, lunchtime chats and conversations around the office are what makes our culture so strong. So in 2022 we too will be reviewing how we can ensure we keep our team feeling connected, wherever they are working.

The rise of a people-first mentality

Throughout the last 20 months, everything we thought we knew about the world of work changed and employees began asking very reasonable questions about their day to day lives: Does my work fulfil me? Does my employer care about me? What’s a priority in my life? I don’t think it’s therefore a surprise that their expectations around work have now changed – they want more flexibility, to feel appreciated and have their voices heard – and they’re not afraid to pack up and look elsewhere for exactly that. This has resulted in an enormous number of individuals leaving or considering leaving their current role, a huge talent shortage and a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity for employees to feel empowered to state their preferred terms of employment.

In order to combat this change in power dynamic, many businesses are responding in unsustainable ways, such as paying over the market rate for talent. But I think this is ineffective long term. Instead, employers should be using this so-called ‘Great Resignation’ to bring about meaningful, long-term change to their workplace culture, the way they invest in their employees and the non-financial value they add to their employees’ professional and personal lives.

At peoplevalue, we strongly believe in the power of people. Happier employees are, after all, more motivated and loyal, and work harder and smarter to achieve personal and organisational goals. And it’s looking like as we head into 2022, more and more businesses will be investing in the non-financial, social needs of their people.

The changing expectations of employees

So, we know that in 2022 businesses will be looking for new ways to invest in their employees and demonstrate how much they are appreciated as individuals, but how exactly can they do this? Research shows that, unsurprisingly, wellbeing resources and opportunities for meaning and growth are going to be particularly highly sought after by employees. In fact, new research from Oracle finds that 88% of workers feel the meaning of “success” has changed, and they’re now prioritizing work-life balance, mental health, and having a meaningful job over a steady paycheck. There’s no doubt that the fallout from COVID-19 has accelerated the need for companies to upskill their current workforce, especially with the growing talent shortage. Plus, giving individuals the opportunity to develop and progress within their roles, wherever they’re working, will do great things to their overall career wellbeing and job satisfaction.

We work with hundreds of different clients across a variety of different sectors, and this change in employee expectation and demand has been reflected in the projects and schemes we’ve been working with them on. As we kickstart 2022, it’s likely these non-financial elements of the employee experience, such as wellbeing support and development opportunities are going to continue having a huge effect on engagement.

The power of personalisation

Adding an element of personalisation to your employee benefits, reward and wellbeing schemes and learning and development opportunities, by taking an elective approach and letting employees choose, is an even more powerful way to show appreciation on a personal level and, in turn, retain talent. Providing goals for your people to work towards will boost their career wellbeing and job satisfaction, whilst providing an elective approach will help ensure there’s significantly less wastage as employees will be more likely to use resources they are actively choosing for themselves.

By showing that you understand the unique individual needs of each employee, you’ll be emotionally connecting with your team, having a huge impact on company culture and relationships, and enhancing your business’ Employee Value Proposition (EVP). This is more important than ever as there’s a risk of employees who work remotely disconnecting from the culture of the business – being given the power to choose your own benefits is a great way to engage employees and prove to them how much you appreciate them. If your business hasn’t yet invested in the personalisation of its engagement tools, perhaps it’s something to look at in 2022.

The advancement of technology

The last 20 months have already proven that technology plays such an important role in helping businesses connect, reward and support their teams, wherever they are. Hybrid work set-ups come with varying demands and there’s no doubt 2021 has been a transitional period for employers to discover what IT tools and structures work for them as a business. But, I think that this is an exciting time, and if anything, this revolution of the workplace has given organisations the push to reevaluate the technologies and identify potential upgrades that align with their working style, culture and values. In 2022, it’s likely that there will be continued development of virtual collaboration tools and all-in-one employee management and engagement schemes, to help drive a more seamless experience for team members business-wide.

A new era of spaces

In 2022, our all-in-one engagement solution, spaces, will be having an upgrade. Our clients will be able to deliver valuable employee benefits, rewards, recognition, wellbeing support and more, from one convenient online space. It’s been designed to deliver an optimal experience on every device. Whether they’re at work, at home, or on the go, users can log in and enjoy their benefits, rewards, wellbeing support and more. This new era of spaces is coming at such a pivotal time in the employee engagement space, and we’re looking forward to sharing more with our clients and partners in 2022. If you’d like to find out more about peoplevalue and our solutions, click here.

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