This article was originally posted on December 31, 2021 on WorldwideERC.com. Click here to read the original post.

The newest omicron variant might be derailing return-to-work plans, but many are still looking into the future and predicting the workplace in 2022.

Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, recently reflected on how a global pandemic forced workplaces to adapt and rise to challenges ranging from employee burnout and remote work to hiring and retention in a job market defined by labor shortages and unprecedented employee turnover.

Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies, has a unique window into the experiences of employees and employers. Zhao analyzed a database of millions of employee reviews, salaries, and conversations to highlight four emerging trends that Glassdoor and Zhao believe will define work in 2022.

Hiring will continue to be competitive

Hiring will continue to be highly competitive, and the labor shortages that defined the 2021 job market will stretch into 2022. In September of 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found only 0.74 unemployed Americans for every job opening.

A recent Pew study points out that work is no longer the meaning of life for a more significant and growing number of Americans. In 2021, the pandemic-wary workforce quit their jobs in record numbers. These same workers have realized that they hold more power when choosing where to work and how they define their work/life balance.

Glassdoor’s Zhao recommends that employers further sweeten the deal for applicants. Employers should look beyond one-time hiring bonuses and instead permanently increase wages. Zhao also recommends that employers consider benefits like tuition reimbursements, student loan assistance, and remote work opportunities.

Employers should expect a long period of tight labor markets, encouraging them to seek non-traditional candidates often overlooked in the hiring process, including remote workers, recent retirees, workers with disabilities or impairments, or previously incarcerated workers.

Employees will continue to demand remote work

Before the pandemic, select employers used remote work to access a wider talent pool. Now, after the pandemic, remote work is the default. Many more employers are looking at how to expand their talent pools through remote hiring, increasing competition from companies that are posting remote-friendly positions.

Workers are now rethinking where they want to live and work, and Glassdoor predicts that more people will be leaving big cities in 2022 and insisting that they take their big-city salaries with them. In 2021, there was an increase in “geo-neutral pay,” which sees companies offering top-tier market rates regardless of an employee’s location. While this is good news for workers, the geo-neutral pay policies will hurt local companies forced to compete with companies offering San Francisco or New York rates to remote workers.

DE&I accountability will become more important

Even before the pandemic, both employers and workers demanded substantive action and accountability from companies on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Zhao predicts that in 2022 we will see more reporting on companies’ diversity data.

In recent years, big tech companies like Apple and Google led the way in reporting out workforce demographics. Next year, expect to see more companies reporting their workplace demographic data related to company diversity and inclusion efforts.

The prioritization of DE&I efforts is driven by employees’ growing appetite for greater transparency. Increased DE&I transparency is a powerful way for organizations to highlight progress and incentivize accountability. This transparency is also an important way for companies to make public their promotion rates by different demographic groups. Zhao adds that companies are starting to show breakdowns by gender, race, and sexual orientation, but might include parents, veterans, and workers with disabilities in the future.

It’s interesting to note that when most US companies share their gender pay gap data, they only share the gap adjusted for factors like experience, tenure, and title. In comparison, UK-based companies with 250 or more employees must report entire gender pay-gap data as of 2017. Even if companies aren’t mandated to do so, investments in DE&I efforts are both a social good and a critical part of a company’s workforce management strategy.

Workers will seek community and culture at work

The Great Resignation has shown us that workers are seeking more than just a paycheck at work. The pandemic has forced companies to find a way to keep employees feeling connected to each other even while working remotely. Employers increasingly compete for talent by emphasizing employee engagement and workplace experience.

According to a recent Glassdoor survey of US workers, people crave connection to their co-workers, with 48% of employees reporting that they have felt isolated from co-workers during the pandemic. As remote and hybrid work schedules increase, employers require special attention to maintain and enhance employee connection, culture, and community.

Companies are trying different approaches to foster community among remote workers. Some companies are replicating that “chatting at the watercooler” feeling through Slack integrations like Donut, which pairs random co-workers and sets up short, casual Zoom chats.

LinkedIn has redesigned its conference rooms to create community to feel like a campfire. Within the room, four monitors and a 360-degree camera capture the faces of those seated so that everyone in the meeting can talk to each other and see their remote colleagues on their monitors.

The pandemic is not over, and Zhao warns that 2020 ushered in permanent shifts to the workforce and labor market. In 2022, the tight labor market will likely stick around, and companies should expect to feel continued pressure from employees for increased pay, remote work, and transparency on DE&I efforts. Glassdoor and Zhao want companies to go into 2022, remembering that employees are seeking more than “just a job” but also a fulfilling career and community.

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