2021 has been witness to a number of changes in the workplace, with hybrid working becoming more prevalent and the needs of employees continually adapting and evolving – often dependent on new circumstances accelerated by an ongoing pandemic.
Now, as we head into 2022, it is important for business owners to reflect over the past 12 months and prepare to make changes where required adapting to new workplace trends, employment laws and ever-changing circumstances in the world of work.
As the Omicron variant spreads and it remains unclear as to what the future holds for new restrictions, award winning HR specialists Breedon Consulting have highlighted five key trends they anticipate becoming prevalent in the new year.
Nicki Robson, managing director at Breedon Consulting commented on what is to be expected: "We have consulted many businesses throughout the year to help navigate these difficult circumstances, and we anticipate the early start of the year to be a challenging one for companies continuing to familiarise themselves with any new restrictions and how best to respond.
“As we look forward to 2022, businesses will see a number of new legislations come into play with discussions around carers’ leave, neonatal leave and pay and new rights for employees to request flexible working patterns. In particular, the tax changes from April onwards will bring their own set of challenges - as employees adjust to the rising cost of living.
Here at Breedon Consulting, we are uniquely positioned to support and advise SMEs, providing tailored packages to suit the needs of businesses spanning many industries, therefore our team has identified five key HR trends for employers and employees to be mindful of on the return from the Christmas break.”
- Employment law
It is likely they’ll be a number of changes in employment law announced in coming months, with the potential introduction of statutory carers’ leave, neonatal leave and pay, and new provisions to give workers the right to request flexible working.
Employers are also encouraged to further develop their policies surrounding menopause or put policies in place should none exist - with discussions surrounding this topic becoming more prominent.
In the last four years, employment tribunals have referenced menopause in more than double the number of cases, as reported by The Times.*
- Wellbeing and mental health
Employee mental health and wellbeing will remain a top priority as both employees and employers continue to battle with ongoing stress.
It was recently reported that 37% of businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year and a 60% increase in common mental health problems.**
With such a significant rise, businesses will need to provide support and should look at ways to help improve wellbeing. Employers could look to provide counselling to employees should they need it, offer access to discounts for gym memberships to support healthy living, and consider implementing wellbeing programmes.
Breedon Consulting have recently announced their partnership with health and wellbeing coaches Wellbeing4life, providing a collaborative programme to help empower individuals to take responsibility for their own health, ensuring businesses have the ability to embed and continue to develop and sustain their staff wellbeing.
- Tax changes may result in requests for higher salaries
2021 has presented a tough time for both employers and employees as they continue to negotiate living cost increases which have been accelerated by the pandemic, including rising house prices, energy costs and transport expenses.
With the announcements of the tax increase set to hit in April, employees may request higher salaries to help mitigate these inflated living costs. This will only add to the increased attempts by competitors to poach staff, which is becoming more and more prevalent as the recruitment market continues to be challenging.
For businesses struggling amidst the pandemic and anticipating their own tax rate changes, employers should consider implementing other ways in which employees can save on work-related expenses or boost their income.
Examples could include allowing flexible working to save on transport costs, implementing bonus or commission-based schemes and allowing employees to set up their own side businesses or take second jobs if their contract stated this wasn’t an option beforehand.
- Recruitment and employee retention will continue to be challenging
In September, Reuters stated that British businesses have reported a sharp rise in recruitment difficulties, with some 41% of companies with 10 or more staff reporting hiring being more challenging than usual.***
Employee retention is also proving to be a challenge, with many individuals seeking out new positions during the pandemic or being approached speculatively by hiring companies.
HR departments will need to consider revisiting employee career progression plans and look at ways to re-engage employees and adapt working policies to attract future hires and retain existing talent. It’s always better to act before employee retention becomes an issue.
- Changes to flexible working patterns
Employees are searching for policies that include flexibility and remote working in order to help navigate a work life balance, which is where adaptable options will become key.
Alongside the pending changes to legislation surrounding flexible working requests, a study in July revealed that employers will expect more flexible working requests from staff after the pandemic is over – reporting that 55% of employers will expect an increase in staff working from home part-time. ****
This trend won’t be one to disappear anytime soon and will continue to shape the new world of work.
Breedon Consulting is offering free 15-minute consultations to talk about challenges that business owners may be facing at the current time.