People-Focused Priorities for Employers to Finish 2022 Strong

By: Heather Moyer on July 27th, 2022

As concerns over inflation increase and recruiting and retention challenges persist, building and keeping a full, high-performing workforce is expected to continue as a top priority for businesses into 2023. And the Great Resignation is far from over. “In America alone, there are 11 million vacant positions and only 6.5 million people to fill them. Suddenly, we’re in the middle of a talent crisis. Employees have unprecedented leverage, and the Great Resignation as we know it is just beginning.”

Looking into Q3, the employer environment will keep up strong hiring, with a Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of +38%, according to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey. Filling those vacant roles, though, will be difficult, with 36% of respondents reporting difficulty filling roles requiring IT/data skills.

These four key people-focused priorities will help employers finish out 2022 strong and even build momentum entering into 2023. 

1. Put People First

Though many encouraging signs of recovery are emerging, employees still face challenges in work and home life as a result of the pandemic. The blurred lines between home and work life introduced rising pressures to employees, seriously impacting individual mental health and business health.

The lines blurred for organizations as well, and leaders had to start thinking about how to get employees back to thriving, at home and at work. Gallup calls employee wellbeing “the new workplace imperative.” In their State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, US respondents reported experiencing daily worry (41%) and stress (50%) at higher levels than the global average.

Across the board, businesses will have to stay vigilant about employee wellness and engagement at the employer value proposition (EVP) level, because progress can be lost easily and measures of success are ever-evolving. Mercer explains, “Similar to successful businesses that differentiate their products and services to attract targeted segments of the population and retain them as long-term customers, employers must also provide differentiated offerings—a unique EVP—to attract and retain qualified talent and help them stand out from competitors.”

2. Stay the Course on DEI 

Speaking of EVP and employee engagement, 35% of HR leaders said diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) would be a top priority in 2022. What was once considered above-and-beyond “now has become imperative to employee experience and organizational success.” A particular challenge is the low levels of diversity at the highest levels of the organization. “Progression of underrepresented talent stalls in the middle. They experience slower rates of promotion and worse perception of leadership potential.” 

Harvard Business Review reveals the significant impact belonging, a critical aim of DEI, has on business success. “High belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.”

Transparency is a critical element to making DEI progress, particularly as HR leaders become more proficient in people analytics. “Overall, CEO commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has grown over the past year, including increases in organizations building DEI into strategic priorities/goals (92%) and disclosing DEI metrics to employees (72%).”

3. Structure and Strategize Around Skills

Customer demands, business needs, and technology are ever-evolving at a rapid pace, and organizations are facing the need to upskill and reskill workers more rapidly and more frequently. And today’s employees are demanding the opportunity to do so on the job.

“[B]oth employers and employees are increasingly prioritizing the development of individual skills, proficiencies, and capabilities — sometimes called micro-credentialing — to propel their success.” A recent TalentLMS survey found that 91% of employees were looking for more development from their current employers, but 75% said their employers were more focused on attracting new talent than investing in current talent.

Having a strategy and resources in place to make this happen is a challenge, but a new Capterra survey found that “49% of organizations are increasing their learning and development (L&D) spend in 2022—up from 41% in 2021, a 20% increase YOY.”

The benefit of structuring an organization around skills rather than roles is a workforce that is prepared to adapt and the ability to endure and even build momentum during times of change, not to mention delivering the kind of advancement culture candidates are hungry for. Offering opportunities for professional development not only creates a path for internal mobility but also supports employee satisfaction and, therefore, retention. 

HR leaders report a 25% increase in time spent on talent acquisition as compared to 2021, an unsustainable pace. So organizations must look at learning and development to keep their workers engaged and equipped to keep both skills gaps and workforce gaps at bay.

4. Finally Achieve Data Literacy

Even with an increasingly people-focused approach, organizations will need to get a firm grasp on metrics related to all aspects of their business, including people. But HR and other leaders will have to go beyond measurement to deep and insightful analysis to support decision-making in an impactful way.

Data and analytics will make it possible for people teams to understand their work better, have more time to focus on strategic initiatives, and reduce some of the stress of daily tasks.” In 2021, Gartner predicted, “By 2023, data literacy will become essential in driving business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.” It goes on to say literacy is essential to “data dexterity,” which enables workers to use technology, old and new, to achieve improved outcomes.

To make the most of emerging technology and empower better decision-making, companies must embrace data and data-driven intelligence in everything from performance management to hiring to compensation. Those businesses that have already done this are seeing return on their investment already. PwC’s Pulse Survey: Executive Views on Business in 2022” reports “60% of executives say digital transformation is their most critical growth driver.”

Prioritization Makes It Possible

The strongest people strategy for employers is to continue focusing on what enables employees to do their best work while feeling a strong sense of belonging. That focus often brings change and reprioritization, and in fact, attracting (and keeping) top talent requires an ongoing posture of reexamination. 

“A seismic change in how people view work and the meaning work brings to their lives has created the biggest talent crisis in recent history, says the Harvard Business Review. But by embedding a people-centered focus on each organizational goal and priority, companies can endure and grow despite whatever shifts and changes await them the remainder of this year and beyond.