Top 7 Workforce Predictions for 2022 and How Your Organization Can Rise to Meet Them - Trakstar dropdown-kink trakstar-mark fb linkedin twitter rarr

Top 7 Workforce Predictions for 2022 and How Your Organization Can Rise to Meet Them

Posted by Julie • February 1, 2022 (Last modified June 14, 2022) • 6 min read

Reflecting on the lessons of 2021, it’s clear we’re at the dawn of a new labor cycle; not only has the hiring market bounced back from the disruption of early 2020, but now many organizations are finding themselves short on talent. This year, the so-called Great Resignation led organizations to launch new recruitment strategies that will impact the new year and beyond, such as rethinking return-to-office plans, creating hybrid roles, and increasing compensation. It seems everything we know about hiring and structuring a team has radically changed over the past year with no signs of returning to “normal.”

It’s now a job seeker’s market, and many who feel less than engaged in their current roles are taking the plunge—and taking their time to find a perfect fit. A record 4.3 million workers quit their jobs this September, with some dropping out of the workforce entirely. Lower than expected job growth figures in November, combined with a low 4.2% unemployment rate, further underscored the recruitment and retention challenges facing employers. 

So how can employers weather the storm? The data suggests it’s time to pivot toward a better approach to keeping and developing employees for the long haul. After analyzing millions of data points collected on the Trakstar platform, including information from over 30 million candidates and over 3,700 customers in 27 industries and 74 countries, alongside leading sources of market data, we distilled our insights into seven predictions for workforce trends in 2022 and how organizations can rise to meet the challenge: 

Employees will place a premium on career advancement

Before considering outside moves, employees will look for new opportunities for growth and advancement within their organizations. Tapping into this demand will improve long-term retention, but only if executives prioritize investments in professional development today. Here’s what to consider: 

  • #1: Experienced workers will hold the upper hand: It’s often the promise of higher titles and clearer paths for advancement that pushes employees to seek new roles. According to Trakstar data, new job openings are up nearly 50% from January through October 2021, indicating that experienced employees have an ample supply of jobs to consider.  

To retain more talent, companies should rethink established pathways for promotion. According to Deloitte, the right performance management methods can open up a host of potential career moves to fit experienced workers’ needs. As flat structures become the norm, experienced job seekers will value companies that offer more specialized, lateral career moves with room to grow. Traditional job hierarchies won’t cut it; top employers will promote career mobility outside the rigid pay-for-performance model.

  • #2: Employees will get creative in designing their ideal roles: With a wealth of potential jobs to choose from, workers will seek an active role in designing their “dream jobs.” To catch the eye of prospective hires, it’s not enough for companies to focus on skill development alone; they should provide job personalization opportunities in which workers help create their future job descriptions. This opens the door to hybrid roles that aim to meet new or idiosyncratic needs by spanning multiple functions. Even if nothing else, asking workers to reflect on their job, how it matches their interests, and how they see themselves growing may illuminate unconsidered career trajectories. 

Benefits and compensation will be crucial for employee retention

As worker priorities have shifted during the pandemic, workplaces have become increasingly location-independent and agile. Managers and HR should take time to understand what their employees value most now and reevaluate compensation and benefits packages to meet changing needs. These are the top benefits priorities for 2022:

  • #3: Benefits must adapt to new worker realities: Companies stuck in 2019 will struggle to retain and hire talent at pre-pandemic levels. Fringe benefits like on-site meals will be less enticing, as studies show that healthcare and flexibility benefits were top of mind for workers over the past year. But to combat resignations, leading companies will pilot more customized, data-driven approaches to benefits. A little in-house research, like surveys, town halls, or analysis of internal data, can go a long way in figuring out which benefit upgrades workers really want. Otherwise, your organization risks adding pet insurance when workers really want increased flex time or tuition reimbursement. 
  • #4: Remote and hybrid work options will prevail: A rising share of workers will seek remote jobs rather than willingly return to in-person work. Data shows that many front-line workers would prefer to quit rather than endure higher COVID-19 exposure risks alongside low wages and no flex time. In fact, Trakstar data shows consistently declining application volumes throughout 2021 in the retail and hospitality sectors, despite the increasing holiday demand for workers. In parallel, many white-collar workers now view their newfound location independence as a permanent fixture of their workplaces. 

Research largely supports the shift to hybrid, such as Deloitte’s finding that overall employee engagement is highest among those employees who work remotely 60–80% of the time. If hybrid isn’t workable, get creative with options like job shares, morning-only shifts, or replacing most work travel with virtual meetings to stay competitive. 

  • #5: Wages will rise: Employees will continue to seek higher-paying opportunities in a job market that favors candidates. Even with declining application volumes, Trakstar’s proprietary data shows hiring is up almost 125% from January 2021, a sign that, sometimes, companies are hiring candidates at the expense of an ideal fit. 

Unsurprisingly, employers can stand out to top-tier candidates by offering more competitive compensation. Compensation costs have already risen 4.1% since September 2020. And with inflation hitting decade highs, executives should prepare for additional, commensurate wage increases with the goal of creating compensation packages that make both new hires and seasoned employees feel valued.

Burnout will inform new hiring trends

As workers experience another year of burnout amid the pandemic, companies will need to prioritize workers’ long-term needs—including mental health and family obligations. Research demonstrates that workers are exhausted, with 53% reporting feelings of burnout in 2021 in a recent poll. Here’s what to consider in the year ahead: 

  • #6: A new approach (and response) to burnout: In 2022, burned-out workers will seek new opportunities that promise a better work-life balance. Trakstar’s data on year-over-year changes in new openings, peaking at over 150% increase in the first quarter of 2021, shows that workers are exploring jobs in new fields and geographic areas. The rise of remote work and pandemic-era struggles are inspiring candidates to pursue their passions and rethink what matters most in their next roles. 

Burnout is approaching crisis levels in industries affected by the pandemic, resulting in resignations and unfilled positions. Healthcare, for example, has seen an enormous increase in openings, reaching nearly a 300% increase in the last quarter of 2021, according to Trakstar data, even as the number of interested job seekers remained relatively stagnant throughout the year. 

Leading companies will bolster support for employee wellbeing during these still uncertain times. Executives should watch for signs of burnout, like decreased productivity and performance, while finding actionable ways to help. For example, even small, specific acknowledgments of appreciation can improve employee morale and reinforce the feeling that leadership cares about its teams.

  • #7: Employees will interview employers: As job openings stay high in the new year, job candidates will become more selective. Jobseekers will play an active role in their candidacy by interviewing prospective employers on a wide set of issues ranging from working hours and reporting lines to corporate values and culture fit. 

Trakstar data shows that interview numbers are seeing only marginal month-over-month change—plateauing in the last quarter of the year at a 75% increase over January 2021 levels, even with more available openings. What might have once been termed “bonus perks,” like student loan reimbursements and wellness stipends, are now critical tools for differentiating your organization. Such expanded and inclusive benefits will underscore how much the organization is willing to invest in its employees, no matter what the new year brings.  

Make Work Matter.