The 6 big HR insights from 2022

Sander van Gelderen

As we approach the end of the year, it’s good to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learnt over the past few months.

The 6 big HR insights from 2022

From the ongoing effects of COVID-19, the return of high inflation, predictions of a recession, to the invasion of Ukraine, 2022 has been a year full of challenges to the status quo. These present challenges to all levels of society, and business and HR are no different. 

There has been a lot of focus this year on how and what employees are doing. From The Great Resignation to the “quiet quitting” phenomena, almost all leaders and organizations are concerned about their staff. Of course, this makes sense, but there also needs to be focus on what management and leadership are doing.

Organizational success and overcoming all the hurdles on the horizon will rely on leadership, management and HR engaging their people. 

And on that note, it’s time to begin our run-down on the 6 big HR insights we’ve gained during 2022… 

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Insight 1: Dave Ulrich reminds us that leadership needs to be caring 

HR maestro Dave Ulrich once again gave the keynote speech at this year’s World-class Workplace event. He joined us and our incredible winners to share his insights on how human capability delivers value to all stakeholders. He also spoke about a few of the trends in talent, organization, and leadership.  

One thing he stressed was that leadership needs to become a care giver. He said that this can be done in three steps:  

  1. By creating confidence in the future strategy by establishing a compelling vision and mission. 
  1. Promises need to be kept ensuring a positive work environment.  
  1. Leadership needs to live and breathe the four Es: empathy, emotion, energy, experience.  

He went on to explain that the next generation needs to be empowered by being made to feel good about themselves. Lastly, he said that leaders need to take care of themselves so that they can take care of others. 

Insight 2: Building connections is essential in the age of hybrid work 

Effectory hosted a webinar session for the HR Congress Forum about employee listening, employee feedback, and organizational change management. 

The panel discussion at the end of the session was about how crucial it is to make people feel inspired at work and to foster a sense of connection both to the organization and to other employees. This is especially important now that hybrid working has been widely adopted by many organizations. 

As Lea Klauk, Head of Learning and Development at Körber, explained, working virtually was quite typical at Körber before COVID. The pandemic brought a new emphasis on them making sure that they have processes in place that make people feel connected even when they’re physically apart. This project has been about making people feel part of something that they relate to and make sure that they see the “social glue” that exists throughout the company.  

Keynote speaker Sharon von Simson said that purpose is super important for fostering employee engagement, but so is giving individuals the opportunity to shine. Effectory’s Arjen Swank pointed out that engagement and satisfaction are both heavily connected with purpose. 

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Insight 3: Post-COVID fatigue is having a lasting effect 

As part of our in-depth research into the State of HR in Germany, we discovered that 53% of HR professions in Germany say that post-COVID fatigue is a major challenge to a successful employee experience and people strategy. 

This shows us that while for many COVID may be “over”, its effects and repercussions from lockdowns and continuous illness will be being felt for a long time. It is worth remembering this in 2023, too. With long term symptoms of Long COVID now being much more widely reported than before, we should also keep in mind that the pandemic isn’t necessarily over, it’s on the situation that much different now to how it was in 2021. 

Insight 4: Engagement is still the best way to increase overall performance 

We recently refined our definition of engagement. Based on our research, employee engagement can most accurately be described as “the degree to which employees are inspired and energized by their work and experience a positive connection with their work environment.” 

Employee engagement is a metric that has far-reaching implications. Tracking disengagement can be used to predict turnover, while engagement is also closely linked to good customer satisfaction. In the USA, research has found that employees being disengaged results in hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity on a yearly basis. 

In 2022’s Employee Experience Review, we uncovered that high engagement rates result in: 

  • 33% increase in general trust 
  • 29% increase in team productivity 
  • 29% increase in customer focus 

Engagement is a term that has been in use for many decades now, but just because it’s been said before doesn’t mean it can be ignored. Increasing and measuring employee engagement remains one of the best ways to track organization success and progress. 

Insight 5: Management is not providing sufficient training opportunities 

In our research into the “leadership gaps” that threaten organizational transformation, we identified that there is a significant gap between how well trained for future opportunities management feel, and how well-trained employees feel. 

Managers are much more likely to feel that the organization provides training opportunities. They are also more likely to be satisfied with development opportunities. The underdevelopment of staff has very negative implications, however. We know that a lack of training opportunities is one of the main reasons employees leave their roles, and we also know that operational changes will likely require the deployment of new skills.  

In short, management needs to get more aware of how their teams feel about this topic, otherwise they may experience decreased productivity or high turnover in the near- and long-term future. 

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Insight 6: Not enough organizations are realizing the strategic potential of employee feedback 

According to our research into the German market, there is still some way to go before a large majority of organizations realize the full potential of employee feedback. 

While a large majority of organizations are performing surveys, only 42% of HR professions in organizations with 500-1000 employees see employee surveys as an important part of HR and/or business strategy. 

This, despite the fact that we know the positive impact greater engagement can bring. We also know how asking employees the right questions at the right time can give management and leadership the sort of insights they need to make operational changes that help them survive difficult periods. Just take a look at examples from Icelandair, Kramp and Grupo Catalana Occidente.  

Here’s a suggestion for your New Year’s resolution: make employee feedback a strategic asset!  

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