The major HR trends for 2022 connect seamlessly to the developments of the past two years, says Thorsten Brunsemann, Client Partner at InterSearch Executive’s Frankfurt office. He predicts that the mental health, hybrid working and the close cooperation of HR and IT, as well as diversity and the new significance of HR in companies will continue to challenge HR departments next year. “Progress has been in these areas but it is far from complete,” he explains. Brunsemann considers the ongoing pandemic situation and advancing digitization the biggest external influencing factors.
CEOs are becoming more aware of mental health issues
Like in so many areas of life, the ongoing pandemic situation has reinforced developments already underway in the HR sector. This also applies to the area of health in general and mental health in particular. Fear for one’s health, ongoing lockdowns, isolation and restrictions have understandably taken a toll on many people. “This created the challenge of adequately supporting all teams and employees remotely through purely digital channels,” he said. “It is difficult to ascertain a colleague’s well-being through short video calls alone. They are the only way to check in to see how people are doing and whether their workload is appropriate. That was very new for many managers,” Brunsemann explains. He therefore believes HR departments have a responsibility to raise awareness among managers and establish a healthy work culture. “CEOs need to be trained on how to recognize how their employees are doing even remotely.”
Hybrid work is the new normal
One development that will remain post-pandemic is hybrid work. “Flexible solutions have proven extremely successful, so we as a society will likely never go back to full-time presence at the office. And candidates have come to expect this,” Brunsemann asserts. He notes, however, that many employers still prefer the presence model. “This will put them at a great disadvantage in recruiting,” he says. Especially in IT, job openings are already being advertised as completely remote. In addition, many HR departments are still lagging behind in technology. “Technical solutions and tools are becoming increasingly important. HR departments have to define new processes and the resulting requirements – especially regarding technology. Here, they will have to work much more closely with the IT department in the future,” explains Brunsemann.
Interlinking IT and HR is inevitable
The automation and digitization of processes in HR will continue to be among the major challenges for 2022. Artificial intelligence, not only in digital recruiting, time recording, CRM systems – HR needs to clarify which tools are needed and what data can be obtained from them. There is great potential to predict future developments by analyzing this data. “For many HR departments, this is still completely new. Employees need to be trained further and work more closely with the CIOs of the companies, because many HR departments still lack digital expertise,” says Brunsemann.
Diversity and inclusion are becoming mandatory
Brunsemann makes abundantly clear: “Companies can no longer afford to exclude candidates from diverse backgrounds.” This is not just a matter of social participation or employer branding, he says, but simply a necessity from a business perspective. “With the current shortage of skilled workers, it would be fatal to exclude qualified candidates. We are in a “war of talents” and urgently need to include the entire candidate market in our searches.” To do this, he adds, companies must explicitly introduce “diversity recruiting.” In addition to sustainability and purpose, diversity has also become one of the greatest pull factors and contributes significantly to employee satisfaction.
HR’s relevance and self-image is changing
Since the pandemic, HR departments have gained relevancy and respect within companies. As employees moved to work from home, much of the change and challenges had to be managed by HR. “Human resources proved to be the most important crisis managers in 2020 and 2021. They were most affected by all of the changes and had to completely reorient themselves,” Brunsemann explains. This has resulted in a whole new appreciation of HR on a company level, he says. Through topics such as change management, agile work and the qualification of employees, HR has a major influence on the future strategic orientation of a company – especially in view of the upcoming generation change that is taking place in all industries.