The COVID-19 pandemic completely upended the business world in a variety of ways. Some of its impact on organizational culture came out of nowhere, whereas others have been on the horizon for some time and have been accelerated by lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures. Here’s what experts believe is in store for 2022:
According to a Gartner survey, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) now ranks in HR leaders’ top five priorities for 2022. However, 36 percent of respondents felt accountability for DEI outcomes was missing from business leadership. The study found that poor perception of leadership potential resulted in slower promotion rates of underrepresented talent, which created talent stalls in mid-level and senior-level positions.
Achieving desired DEI outcomes requires building inclusive cultures where all employees feel connected and recognized—an environment where everyone can succeed and thrive. But focusing on a single area won’t result in meaningful change. The process requires an organization to reflect inwardly and embrace diversity truly holistically.
At the same time, HR will need to develop people-centered programs that incorporate equitable talent decision-making that meaningfully impacts the behavior and progression of individual leaders. Achievement of DEI goals must become mandatory for the advancement of leadership.
A Harvard Business School survey found that professionals excelled when working from home. While many respondents say they miss some aspects of the office, such as their colleagues, they want more flexibility in the future. Over 80 percent either don’t want to return to the office or want hybrid arrangements on their return.
For 61 percent, this would equate to working between two and three days a week from home. And the majority want to see COVID protocols in place and vaccinations required. Employers hoping to attract top talent will need to demonstrate that they value their employees’ health and wellbeing by prioritizing flexibility.
Regarding those wishing to return to the office, parents with children at home are keener to return to the office full-time than those without. Married couples are also more enthusiastic about returning to the office than their single counterparts.
When technology is implemented haphazardly, without consideration of the organization’s culture, it can isolate employees. However, when it is appropriately integrated with an organization’s culture, technology can increase employee engagement by a factor of five and almost halve attrition rates.
Contrary to popular belief, an O.C.Tanner study found most employees (77 percent) are excited by the prospect of new technologies at work. Still, only 32 percent of organizations are culturally ready to implement new technologies successfully. The authors identified four critical factors that they have termed the Cultural Technology Innovation Readiness (CTIR) Index:
Trust—the organization uses workplace data responsibly.
Intent—the organization implements new technology with employees in mind.
Connection—the technology connects employees and customers.
Experience—the technology improves employees’ day-to-day experience.
With employees poised to remain dispersed, the role of technology in workplace culture is more important than ever before. As a result, organizations will need to ensure that technology implementations and applications are personalized to employees, culturally integrated, and easy to use.
4. Social Impact
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer purely about organizations’ actions to “do good.” The growing focus on environmental and social governance (ESG) means that now, even SMEs are under pressure to demonstrate that their organization’s business activities positively impact the world around them, or at least, “do no harm.”
This requires a fundamental shift in an organization’s “group thinking” or culture. At every point in the value creation chain, every employee must instinctively anticipate the social and environmental impacts of their actions and take the necessary steps to ensure they are positive. HR will be focusing on the following steps:
Educating and empowering leaders and managers to run purpose-driven businesses.
Rolling out employee communications and training to ensure the whole organization is aware of the new strategy, its objectives, and employees’ roles to ensure its delivery.
Reviewing organizational policies, processes, and systems to align with the new strategy.
Establishing measurement criteria that identify the organization’s current baseline, the desired goals, and benchmarks of progress. The required technology and reporting systems to measure success will be implemented.
Reviewing and adapting—the social value strategy must be adaptable for changes in the organization’s business and stakeholders and the evolving world.
5. Local Focus
Closely related to social impact awareness will be a trend towards local consumption and services. The shortfalls of a global economy were brought into focus during the pandemic, and international supply chains and business travel will most likely remain disrupted for the immediate future. Therefore, organizations will want to ensure they remain resilient and self-sufficient by focusing on local supply and revenue sources.
COP26 has also highlighted the environmental and social impacts of global resource consumption. ESG initiatives will have organizations thinking more locally, while in-person activities will be curtailed to essential meetings, with technology playing a pivotal role in future engagement activities. And savvy organizations will begin considering the metaverse in planning future approaches to work.