As we get ready to put another year in the rear-view mirror, we thought it was the perfect time to start looking at what’s ahead in the human resources (HR) space, and we’re not the only ones. HR leaders all over are under pressure like never before to keep their workforce engaged and educated. From talent deficits to “the Great Resignation,” employees are demanding more from their employers. 

As the transformation that’s taken shape across the past two years continues, how will HR leaders stay afloat? The key is putting your people first. To help prepare for these changes, a team of UKG evangelists, thought leaders, and social scientists have come together to evaluate the past and present to predict where the industry is headed in the year to come. 

UKG has outlined three HR Megatrends that will impact the global industry in 2022. Let’s dive into each trend and how organizations can embrace the coming changes. 

HR Megatrend #1: The Rise of the Gray-collar Worker

People tend to categorize the modern workforce into two distinct groups: white-collar and blue-collar. But the lines have blurred in today’s world. Now, we find ourselves with shades of gray, where workers like technicians, firefighters, teachers, agribusiness workers, and skilled tradespeople of all stripes possess a combination of technical and physical skills. 

While UKG predicts gray-collar jobs will be one of the fastest-growing demographics post-pandemic, the pandemic has led to increased stress and higher rates of burnout, causing these essential workers to flee their jobs and leaving a critical shortage. 

As a result, UKG believes employers need to rethink their approach to hiring grey-collar workers. Here are some of their suggestions: 

  • Rebrand these roles to define gray-collar workers as highly skilled, highly paid, and in demand, and entice younger workers and people from other industries into these fields. 
  • Rethink degree requirements for certain roles, and make the interview and application process more intuitive. 
  • Focus on reskilling initiatives such as apprenticeships, learning and development opportunities, and intrapreneurship.
  • Seek creative opportunities to provide the benefits people want today, such as flexibility, autonomy, and increased compensation.

By changing the way they see these roles, organizations will be able to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to gray-collar workers and fill critical positions at a critical time.

HR Megatrend #2: The Need for Ethical Leadership

When evaluating companies, employees are looking very closely at issues like diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B), climate change, and artificial intelligence (AI). More than ever, organizations need to foster a culture of moral and ethical leadership. As such, UKG predicts that trust, transparency, listening, and commitment to action will be a top priority for business in 2022. According to Dr. Jarik Conrad, vice president of human insights and HCM advisory at UKG:

Valuing the relationships and voices of employees, trusting them in the new virtual and remote world of work, putting people before profits, and overcommunicating through challenging times are the first few ingredients in the recipe for ethical success. Organizations that lean into these pillars, continue to invest in fostering a culture of moral leadership, and commit to actionable change will continue to succeed in the new year.

UKG believes that technology can help companies prioritize ethical leadership. Last year, a Sapient Insights survey found that HR service delivery and case management applications “emerged as mission-critical tools to support the COVID-19 response and track important issues.” These solutions can help inform employees and leaders of changes to stay ahead of any issues that may arise on this front.

HR Megatrend #3: Compliance Agility 

Traditionally, people have thought of compliance as a set of standards that occasionally go through updates, and not so much as a strategy that always needs to be evolving. That’s all changed. 

Compliance laws escalated during the pandemic, and COVID-19 restrictions like vaccine mandates only complicate the compliance world. UKG believes companies need to completely rethink their approach to compliance.

By taking a proactive approach to compliance, your organization can stay ahead of the game. Compliance agility means going beyond merely “following the rules” to actually shaping the trends themselves so that customers and employees can support these policies. Additionally, organizations also need to be transparent in their commitments. Communication is key to trust, and trust is critical when it comes to compliance.

How HCM Software Can Help

While UKG predicts these three specific topics will be a significant focus in 2022, we’re certain that trends will change as the months go by. But you don’t have to navigate these treacherous waters alone—we’re here to help businesses stay afloat and adapt their technology strategies to the winds of change.

UKG provides solutions to help HR leaders prepare for the future, and our senior-level UKG consulting team can help your organization maximize those tools. Contact us today to learn how we can help you succeed in 2022.