There’s no denying that the last few years have been challenging for employers – businesses have had to respond and adapt so quickly to different ways of working due to the pandemic. This seismic shift has been a catalyst for all manner of changes in the workplace and 2022 looks likely to be the year when employers need to turn their focus to what’s most important to employees in the workplace and how to go about delivering it. So, what trends do tech employers need to be aware of next year?
2021 has seen many businesses and organisations making public commitments to improve diversity, equality and inclusion, as the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement has continued to grow, the pandemic has exposed significant inequalities, gender issues have been at the forefront (e.g. transgender rights, the increased acknowledgement of the impact of the menopause on employees and the (sadly) enduring gender pay gap), and broadcasters have made a sustained effort to support more people with disabilities into TV and the media. And with at least four generations actively participating in the workforce just now, it’s more important than ever that employers put words into action, especially as millennials, in particular, are known to want to work with companies with a diverse workforce.
In light of this, 2022 is likely to see more employers appointing diversity professionals and setting up DEI committees, ensuring workplace policies promoting DEI are put in place and followed, and initiatives are taken to acknowledge and combat bias in recruitment procedures, training and promotion opportunities.
Now that the majority of employers who can do so have implemented some form of home, remote or hybrid working policies and this has become the norm, what’s next for these types of work models? It’s become apparent to many employers and employees that one size does not fit all and 2022 is likely to see more refinement of company policies on the working model and a bigger shift towards agile working, whereby the employee chooses when, where and how they work. The key to the success of agile working is an employer’s ability to align staff to the company’s vision and values, allow teams to achieve business goals in their own way (without too much control), excellent communication, a focus on client care and a willingness to reflect on how services and work methods can be improved, admitting failure and learning from mistakes.
As all forms of remote working are likely to include some home-working, the issue of whether location-based pay could well be revisited by employers. For example, US Google staff who decide to work from home permanently after the pandemic will have their pay determined by their location. So, if a London-based company has employees who earn salaries increased by London-weighting but move to a less expensive areas of the UK and work from home, one option is to cut their pay to the market salary in that area. So far, only a small number of UK employers have taken this step as cutting pay, no matter the justification, is always tricky and risky, but companies are likely to watch each other keenly to see how different pay policies pay out.
On the one hand, given the move to agile working, employers can cast their recruitment nets much wider than before and attract candidates from all areas of the UK and abroad and this is certainly something we’ll see more of in 2022. Recruiting employees from abroad is not without its challenges – there are tax, legal, salary, insurance and management issues to consider – but, on the whole, this is likely to be a positive development for employers. On the other hand, the UK is seeing “the great resignation” with surveys showing that one in four employees are planning to move employers in the coming months, prompted by the unprecedented number of job vacancies leading to an “employees’ market”, competitive salaries and working conditions, and pandemic burn outs and rethinks. There has been a power shift to employees and few sectors are immune, including tech. So, for many businesses, 2022 will be the year of attraction and retention, with a lot of time and effort spent on determining what it is that employees want from work (across the generations), how to deliver it and keep delivering it.