We asked our experts five questions, and this first one was by far the most popular (you’ll note, correspondingly, it’s our longest chapter). But stick with us! There are some real gems in here to help you prepare for 2022. So, because we had so many thoughts on this query, here are the four “biggest things” you should get ready for in the upcoming year.

Surprise Surprise: The “Great Resignation”

If it feels like the phrase “Great Resignation” is all that you hear lately (it’s basically 2021’s version of “unprecedented”), you’re not alone. Every expert we spoke to referenced the COVID-perpetuated changes that led to a mass exodus at companies large and small. Here are the three best strategies for benefits and HR professionals to navigate this tricky time.

Great Resignation Strategy 1

Understand the driving factors at play

The consensus seems to be that returning to normal isn’t going to happen. (Heck, we’ve been saying it all year: we’re never going back to the old way of doing things).

Don’t expect the labor market shifts and disruptions to go away any time soon. Instead of waiting to see if things ‘go back to normal,’ be proactive in adjusting your work environment based on your employees’ feedback. If you meet the needs of current employees, they’ll be more likely to stick around, and top candidates will be more likely to want to work for you if they see your current team has high morale and job satisfaction.”

Jon Hill Chairman & CEO, The Energists

HR teams should understand that the structure of work has changed forever. There is no ‘return’ that will occur. We must lead people operations to make sure they work from a people-first lens in all they do.”

Steve Browne Chief People Officer, LaRosa’s, Inc.

HR teams need to take seriously the mental health needs of all employees. I don’t believe we’ve seen the full effect of the pandemic on Americans’ overall mental health and wellness, and employers should be prepared for ongoing ramifications and ripple effects.

Deb Gordon author and Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow

Great Resignation Strategy 2

Get ahead of talent shortages

Unfortunately, all sectors and companies are facing talent shortages at the moment. Again, most experts alluded to the fact that we need to continue to prepare for hiring roadblocks, candidate pipeline scarcity and overall talent challenges. 

In short, the pandemic put many things in perspective for individuals, and they’re no longer willing to settle for less when it comes to their career choices.

As the labor market heats up, more people are feeling confident about leaving their jobs to find new opportunities. Companies will be scrambling to find enough qualified candidates to fill these open positions with the right mix of skills and experience they need. These shortages will only worsen as baby boomers continue to retire, taking decades of invaluable work experience along with them.”

Stephen Curry CEO, CocoSign

Great Resignation Strategy 3

Bolster your retention strategies

While this may be obvious to HR professionals, the best way to handle talent challenges is to focus on the happiness of your current team. But it’s easier said than done. 

HR Teams should be prepared for an even greater focus on employee retention. The pandemic caused a shift in the relationship with employers, and the American worker is demanding more. We are in a battle for talent and must find new and creative ways to engage our workforce, foster a sense of belonging and maintain culture to retain employees through post-pandemic challenges.”

Beth Pinkerton Director of Human Resources, SERVPRO

People’s wants, needs and desires from life and work have fundamentally changed. Organizations that want to be recognized as employers of choice need to offer flexibility, empathy and consideration of these needs. This doesn’t mean everyone wants to (or can) work from home. It’s about treating employees as individuals with differing needs.”

Alan Walker Co-Founder, Udder

We know that employees are no longer looking for just a paycheck: culture, benefits, and a set of purpose matters. Additionally, the gig system has been ramping up the last few years, but COVID propelled its growth even further. There are more opportunities to work with temporary, contract and contract-to-hire employees.”

Grant Aldrich Founder & CEO, Online Degree

A specific tactic can be increasing access to your learning and development resources to ensure folks understand available advancement opportunities. 

Investing in the development of employees will be crucial in retaining top talent. Companies need to have clear, competitive career paths for their people and be transparent about where they’re headed.”

Stephen Curry CEO, CocoSign

Join us at Engage 2022 for even more ideas to combat the Great Resignation.

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HR Weariness

After weathering a two-year storm, HR professionals are tired. CNBC recently interviewed U.S. HR leaders who confirmed they’re burnt out from the relentlessness of current workplace circumstances. “The pandemic has caused a nonstop deluge of work…some HR workers say there’s simply too much work to be able to fully step away and prioritize their wellbeing.” 

And, unfortunately, the current labor market means it’s not getting easier any time soon.

The biggest thing HR leaders should be prepared for next year? Weariness. As 2021 has not been the return to ‘normal’ as some were hoping, the HR department has borne the brunt of all the change initiatives (office/hybrid, COVID protocols, health screenings, talent shortages, etc.) and maybe making an exit out of this discipline.”

John Baldino President, Humareso

So something you can do to get ready for 2022 is to have more empathy for yourself and your colleagues. It’s been a rough couple of years! The holiday break might not be enough to reset and get ready for the challenges ahead. 

At Jellyvision, we’ve heard again and again from our customers about HR exhaustion. That’s why we’re hosting Engage 2022, a virtual event to help you reset and get re-energized to support the unique needs of your workforce.

Bonus: at the event, we’ll be launching our exclusive community, Engage: HR! This is a place for benefits and HR professionals to connect, vent and share ideas with their fellow colleagues. You won’t want to miss it!

Hybrid and remote working options

Alright, this is another item we can file under “Enough already!” — evolving for hybrid and remote work options. But you can’t fight city hall, because it’s still a roadblock for many teams as they source talent who are unwilling to return to the office full-time. 

What is new for 2022 are the unique insights our experts provided on not only switching to remote or hybrid models but establishing effective workplace cultures as we stay remote — not always easy!

Following the experiences of 2020 and 2021, HR teams will want to think about creative ways to bring people together and create a culture of closeness. Some colleagues haven’t met face to face and may never as many organizations stay remote. So how do we replicate those impromptu conversations about life that come out of watercooler talk, holiday gatherings, and other in-person meetings? We want folks to get to know – and really appreciate – one another.”

Dr. Amy Dufrane CEO, HRCI

COVID vaccination policies 

Now to address the big elephant in the room — COVID vaccinations. This issue has become hyper-charged and highly politicized in recent months as nationwide vaccine mandates continue to roll out. And HR teams are in the middle of the fray.

Your work now includes preparing a policy and approach to vaccinations as a condition of employment as the government vaccination mandate works its way through to become an OSHA requirement.”

Larry Brand Chief Human Resources Officer, Elkay

HR teams have no choice but to stay up-to-date on their state and national requirements and continue to adapt their organization’s policies as necessary. (As well as deal with any fallout from employee opinions).

Should your company charge unvaccinated workers a fee?

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