Executive Insider

Workforce Trends to Retain and Engage Workers in 2022

As the Great Resignation continues, it’s incredibly important to get on top of retaining and engaging your workers this year. After all, it could mean the difference between a workforce that’s ready to tackle the day’s challenges and a widespread sense of burnout. Here are some tips you can integrate.  

As we were going through the initial slog of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had no idea that 2021 would be partially characterized by a phenomenon called the “Great Resignation.” Up to November 2021, more than 3.9 million workers on average left their jobs each month — the highest average on record. In workplaces across the globe, it was a year of shock, recovery, healing, and learning.

Today, while they’re still grappling with the changes the pandemic brought to their businesses, leaders are also trying to rapidly implement all we’ve learned over the last year. Their goal? To land on the right tools and strategies to continue to grow their teams and meet the future of work head-on.

However, with labor shortages and high employee turnover expected to extend into 2022, executives will need to adjust and evolve their workplace strategies to meet workers where they are. This means giving employees autonomy on where and how they get work done, offering hybrid or remote work environments, and embracing digital transformation, to name a few.

In short, innovative ways of thinking about the new world of work will be critical to retaining top talent in 2022. To embrace new trends in the workplace and set your business up for success this year, consider the following workforce strategies:

  1. Embrace new methods of engaging workers.
    The growth in the contingent workforce over the past few years has been staggering. In 2020, the number of contingent workers in the U.S. reached 51.5 million. And in 2021 alone, 32% of companies replaced full-time salaried workers with contingent ones to help save money and create more flexible teams. Contingent workforce trends will continue to pick up speed in 2022.
    More and more business leaders are learning how to effectively utilize contingent workers to get one-off, short-term projects done or to fill critical skills gaps in their teams — all without spending valuable time and money on hiring full-time employees. As the labor shortage continues, engaging contingent workers in ways that align with your mission and values will be vital to your company’s survival.
    Help the contingent workers you bring on to your team feel connected to your company’s vision, for example, even if they’ll only be with you for a short time. Because they aren’t restricted to one role or one company, contingent workers are often hugely motivated by the “why” behind a company’s output. They want to feel a sense of purpose with the companies they work for, and if they don’t, they won’t hesitate to move on.
  2. Focus on the employee experience.
    According to The Josh Bersin Company’s “HR Predictions for 2022,” only around 15% of businesses are attracting and retaining candidates successfully. The workplaces that are doing this well are the ones that focus on employee experience and things like their company’s mission and purpose.
    The pandemic has caused nearly 66% of employees in the U.S. to reflect on their purpose in life, and almost 50% said they are rethinking their work because of it. Just as contingent workers want to connect with the “why” behind their work, so do your full-time employees. They want their job to be more than just a paycheck — they need to feel that it also has value and provides a sense of purpose. To improve the employee experience and help your team feel more connected to your company’s mission and vision, you need to be transparent. Be open in your communication about the business’s goals and how they align with your overall mission.
    Because of the labor shortage and subsequent battle for top talent, employees have much more power than ever before in where and how they choose to work. A skilled employee can be poached by 100 different companies, so understanding how to engage workers — by keeping your employee experience exciting, interactive, and supportive — will be crucial this year.
  3. Set a company goal around upskilling.
    The ways in which we get work done have changed significantly in the past two years. With this in mind, business leaders need to rethink their employee education and training strategies and internal career paths, looking at how they can develop the skills they need in their teams while still evolving in this new world of work.
    Gone are the traditional promotions and career paths that used to rule workplace hierarchies. Now, training opportunities can be tailored to anyone on your team, no matter their role or skill set. With that kind of specialized training, anyone can move up or over in the company hierarchy. Therefore, you have an opportunity to redistribute your current workforce in new roles while retaining that company knowledge — which is good for your bottom line.

It’s a lot less expensive to upskill or reskill current employees than it is to hire externally; the cost of replacing an employee can reach up to twice the cost of their annual salary. Focusing on employee education and training will allow you to keep your current team members engaged in their work longer. In turn, you don’t have to deal with finding new talent in a tight labor market.

As new trends in the workplace continue to develop, the key to success in this evolving world of work is to make all business decisions with your employees in mind. After all, you don’t have a business if you don’t have a good team. Put workers — your No. 1 asset — at the forefront of your choices, and you’ll be able to retain a group of people that actually want to do their best for your company — regardless of whether they’re with you for 10 weeks or 10 years.


Written by Kara Hertzog, M.Ed. 

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Kara Hertzog, M.Ed.
Kara Hertzog, M.Ed. is president of Innovative Employee Solutions (IES), a leading nationwide provider of contingent workforce solutions, specializing in payrolling and independent contractor compliance services. Kara Hertzog is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.