Trends for 2022: the Gartner view – employee turnover is set to soar

Gartner’s chief of HR research, Brian Kropp, tells Adam McCulloch about the trends to look out for in 2022 – among them increasing challenges for diversity, an intensifying struggle to retain employees and a debate over whether a four-day week or increasing flexibility is the way forward.

In the past 12 months, businesses have shifted to hybrid work environments, with many needing to embrace new approaches and structures. However, while uncertainty and variability continue to prevail, 2022 is the year we will see companies experience the long-term impacts of hybrid and remote work models.

A revolving door for employees
Among the various impacts, hybrid work will create a permanent increase in employee turnover. Geography has become less of a barrier for employees given the ability to work from home, meaning they have far more opportunities in the job market.

Meanwhile, hybrid work brings fewer opportunities for workers to build the social connections that are instrumental in keeping them at an organisation. Leaders will need to adapt their hiring processes and enhance the employee value proposition to adapt to this competitive job market.

There are a couple of interesting knock-on effects. First, many organisations will need to compete across geographical borders for the top talent. Second, businesses will need to find more cost-effective learning and development methods given the lower potential for return on investment.

For UK businesses, it could provide a good opportunity to solve critical skills gaps. However, they will also need to do more to keep hold of their best employees.

Adapting DE&I initiatives
Over the last two years, remote work has been a hammer blow to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. It has reduced opportunities for HR leaders to inspire meaningful change in an in-person setting, while the conditions of remote work has also exacerbated issues around inequity.

For example, our research has found that managers wrongly perceive office workers to be higher performing and are more likely to reward these individuals with promotions and pay rises. This is a problem as it tends to be female workers who are most likely to work remotely.

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Meanwhile, Covid has disproportionately affected communities of colour, as these groups are less likely to be in remote-friendly jobs, and less likely to have living situations suitable for the demands of remote working. This puts them at a disadvantage against white workers.

On top of this, businesses have struggled to tailor their DE&I initiatives to the hybrid work era in the last year. In 2022, we will see the true impact of these issues and without proper intervention from leaders, gender wage gaps will widen, and the degree of diversity in leadership will weaken.

Managers wrongly perceive office workers to be higher performing”

Organisational structure and four-day week
We can also expect businesses to experiment with new organisational design structures this year. This is a result of three key trends: the shift to hybrid work and the opportunity to trial new approaches; the war for talent intensifying and businesses needing to find new ways to entice employees; and the economic downturn and companies being less capable of competing on wages.

There will be a number of approaches explored by leaders. On the back of Iceland’s successful four-day working week trial, many are exploring whether that approach could be effective in their organisation. Others are considering putting in place reduced core working hours and offering employees radical flexibility around them.

The design structure experiments that harbour the most positive results this year will inspire larger scale roll-outs from 2023 onwards. It will be fascinating to see which approach wins.


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