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Why employees are redefining what work will look like in 2022

Aaron Smith, senior vice president of global product management and UX for ADP
Aaron Smith
Aaron Smith is senior vice president of Product Development at ADP.

Over the past nearly two years, there have been tremendous changes in how and where work gets done, along with a rising digital transformation accelerated amid the global pandemic–both of which fueled businesses to streamline workflows, empower and engage teams, and optimize for future growth. This pace of change is now quickly becoming the norm, as innovation builds further momentum. As we continue to see such significant change, what will the world of work look like in 2022?

The answer to that depends upon the fact that the global workforce itself stands changed as well. In fact, ADP Research Institute found that 64% of the global workforce was negatively impacted by COVID-19, including 28% who lost a job, were furloughed or were temporarily laid off, and 23% who took a pay cut. These labor market shifts have led workers to reprioritize their needs, further redefining how and where work gets done and adding pressure for employers to meet their emerging demands.

As we head into 2022, employees are driving work’s transformation. Leveraging ADP’s data into the workforce, here are four key trends shaping the evolution:

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Employee visibility will be redefined

According to ADP Research Institute’s People at Work: A Global Workforce View study, in just one year, three-quarters (75%) of the global workforce made changes or plans to change how or where they live, with that trend even greater (85%) among Generation Z. Additionally, ADP surveyed small and mid-sized U.S. employers and found that 66% already have a hybrid work model in place, helping to account for this shift.

Related: What ADP Research indicates is fueling the Great Resignation

With workers no longer sharing one central location and many businesses currently operating across a mix of hybrid, on-site and remote locations, businesses will need new opportunities to increase employee visibility. To better understand the needs of a dispersed workforce, managers will use people data to gain insight into how teams are performing. This data provides employers with the real-time insights they need to drive employee engagement and performance.

People and purpose will drive workplace culture

As changing work models shift workplace culture, employers will look for new ways to build connections. ADP Research Institute found that U.S. workers who feel they are “strongly connected” to their employer are 75 times more likely to be “fully engaged” than those who do not feel connected. With connection driving engagement, employers will need to refocus squarely on their people and center initiatives around the larger purpose that unites the workforce.

To build a workplace where everyone can thrive, employers will embrace people-centered initiatives. This includes maximizing workforce flexibility through working arrangements, benefits programs and policies, and giving workers the tools they need to be successful. As businesses look to foster connection, the focus on diversity, equity and inclusion will continue to evolve, broadening perspectives and driving true, measurable progress.

Reliable data and expertise will power resiliency

The already-complex regulatory environment will see additional operational and compliance considerations in 2022, as employees continue in their remote and hybrid work arrangements. ADP’s HR Survey Series with HR Outsourcing found that nearly 20% of U.S. companies with 25-99 employees concede they are currently facing challenges with compliance and regulatory issues. That percentage could increase as regulations change.

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See also: Want real change? Look to data and analytics

Leaders will need to rely more heavily on real-time data to guide decision-making and stay ahead of compliance mandates. Timely, quality data will enable businesses to act on important decisions with confidence. For example, to better manage return-to-the-workplace policies including vaccination tracking and testing, employers are using people data.

Greater innovation will accelerate growth

As business models evolve amid global shifts, organizations will turn to technology to help drive efficiency and expand capabilities by eliminating task work and refocusing efforts on strategic growth initiatives. This evolution points to the rising trend of adopting technologies that create efficiencies while enhancing the employee experience.

We’ll additionally see a surge in skills-based hiring as roles continue to evolve amid a digital transformation and the pandemic’s impact on the labor market. ADP Research Institute found that more than one in four workers (28%) report having taken on a new or changing role due to pandemic-driven labor market shifts; for Gen Z workers, the number jumps to 36%. Since the pandemic began, many workers were required to learn new skills and take on additional or alternate duties beyond their usual jobs to adjust to new work models, many of which have become permanent operational changes.

Workers understand that these new skills make them even more attractive in a tight job market, and they will continue to pursue new opportunities–internal and external–where they can apply their unique strengths. Businesses wanting to retain valuable employees and accelerate employee performance will need to make sure they are providing opportunities to develop newfound skills or embark on a new career trajectory within the organization with more potential for growth. Additionally, employers will also rely on technologies, such as machine learning, to identify workers with the right skills in unique places, such as former applicants who may have previously applied for alternate roles.

Looking forward

As the dynamics of work continue to shift in the year ahead, employees will play a large role in how businesses adapt. To drive business performance and growth, people are the key to success. Without people who feel connected to the work they’re doing and empowered by their employers to succeed, growth is but a goal. Only when working in tandem can businesses and their people achieve their fullest potential.