WorldatWork Editors Choose Their Hot Topics for 2022
Workspan Daily
January 18, 2022

Some pundits, particularly in politics and sports, revel in the fortune-telling game. It’s what they live for. In the business world, there’s a term for those brash enough to think they can predict the future. We call them unemployed bloggers and futilitarians, more commonly known as futurists. (Behind closed doors in unrecorded Zoom calls, we poke fun at their omniscience and call them, ahem, consultants).

We the editors at WorldatWork are not — nor have we ever claimed to be — clairvoyant. Nor are we misty-eyed optimists or prophets of workplace doom. WorldatWork editorial staff relies primarily on subject matter experts to inform our readership. We also are human and have deadlines to meet and a daily newsfeed to fill. We believe the demands of today’s isolated work environment and our combined professional experience provide us the luxury of pontificating while we’re procrastinating on what to expect next during a global pandemic.

Please do not take this listicle too seriously. However, be forewarned: We’ve been known to predict Super Bowl winners, usually based on which team has Tom Brady at starting quarterback, so we get the results right at least half the time.

The compilation of 50 linked articles, all published by WorldatWork in 2021, foretells the trend and arrival of said topics.

1. Employee Well-Being

This should come as no surprise to anyone who even glances at Workspan Daily headlines. In these trying times, organizations that are seeking to establish an actual long-term relationship with their employees can not deny the importance of this core element of the WorldatWork Total Rewards Model.

2. People, Planet, Profit

This is the catch-all default category for all meaningful, purpose-driven, human-centric corporate initiatives and shared core values shaping both society and today’s workplace. As serial entrepreneur John Elkington described it more than 25 years ago, the 3Ps of the triple bottom line is a “sustainability framework that examines a company’s social, environment, and economic impact.”

More than 80% of orgs acted on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in 2021, according to the WorldatWork study, “Trends in DEI Practices and Policies.” This makes DEI and corporate social responsibility (CSR) a large part of this refreshing conversation.

3. COVID Impact

We really wish we had better news. That is, we all are exasperated with the pandemic and would love to put it behind us, but with so many far-reaching issues related to COVID-19, we have no choice but to address them (yet again) in 2022. How employers are handling vaccination, booster and mask mandates, and the cultural impact and operational difficulties of pivoting to a remote workforce are just a few of the challenges.

4. Expansive Benefits

Parental leave, flexible work schedules, childcare, eldercare, work-from-anywhere (WFA) . . . we’re a needy generation of workers! And, trust us, it’s not going to get any easier. If employers are serious about “best practices” and being among the best places to work, there’s no question that rich benefits offerings are an essential part of the equation.

5. Innovative Compensation

Organizations will need to keep up with these radically changing times by introducing a garden variety of compensation plans and arrangements. These may include geographic pay policies to accommodate digital nomads, cryptocurrency for bold investors, and earned wage access (EWA) solutions that allow workers to access their earned wages between traditional monthly or bi-monthly pay cycles, including on nights, weekends, and holidays.

6. Tech-Driven Analytics

“Hello, Hal.” Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick may have redefined the limits of filmmaking in his masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but AI and smart technology are no longer science fiction. To thrive as a strategic business partner in 2022, HR and rewards professionals must embrace and utilize the power of tech and data analytics.

“Having a grasp of how to strategically use data and analytics to drive decisions in hiring, and to increase employee engagement, productivity and retention, offers HR a different way of adding tremendous value,” WorldatWork CEO Scott Cawood said.

7. Workplace Equity

Like COVID, it would be nice to retire this complex issue to the dustbin of history. But alas, the bedeviling conundrum of workplace equity remains with us. From inequities in pay and perception to the lack of career advancement opportunities for women, minorities, and marginalized employee populations, we must continue to inform and enlighten all stakeholders on this sadly evergreen topic.

8. Accelerated Adaptive Learning

Retooling, reskilling, upskilling. There are myriad ways to describe how organizations plan to educate and develop their workforce. One solution, in part, is to unlearn what we learned to make us whole again.

9. Future of Work

Hybrid job roles, digital transformation, and entrepreneurial consumer-driven product creation with a healthy amount of collaborative partnering and outsourcing all will be a part of the new, self-service gig economy. Coming soon to a home theatre near you, complete with Uber Eats delivery.

10. Workforce Experience

How do we meet the demands of a multigenerational workforce? What’s the secret sauce to getting employees to stop quitting their jobs? Cash is no longer king in some circles. One of the keys to attracting, retaining, and motivating your workforce is a talent value proposition focused on employee engagement.

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