In the past two years, many great events have shaped U.S. culture.
They include the pandemic, social justice movements, the great resignation (and reshuffling), inflation, supply chain disruptions, the rise of block chain, crypto, social media addiction, and mental health!
Since we’ve all gone through two years of constant, unprecedented change, I’d like to jump right ahead and share my first prediction, which is that shifts will continue in 2022, I don’t recommend harboring expectations about a return to normalcy. Other than that, here are my 5 biggest forecasts for what will be happening inside offices in 2022:
1. NEW VALUES AROUND WORK.
After the mass layoffs, resignations, and retirements of 2020, we’ve seen a continued cultural change around employment. Principles have shifted. What people were willing to do just for the dollar amount on a paycheck, will be displaced. We value our time more than we did before, and we have learned to ponder the opportunity cost of our labor. As people look for new, more fulfilling jobs in 2022, they will be expecting better suited, more inclusive, flexible positions.
“What people were willing to do just for the dollar amount on a paycheck, will be displaced. We value our time more than we did before”
The noticeable return to work we’ve seen in October and November of 2021 corresponds to a reshuffling of talent and an increased interest in entrepreneurship, both these trends will continue in 2022 and we will continue to see a workforce that cares about growth and mentorship opportunities. During the pandemic we learned that how we spend our day matters and it will have a lasting effect in how we view work in the future.
2. NEW WAYS TO MAINTAIN A WORKFORCE.
As employers seek to attract and retain talent, expect to see more shifts in how they do business and how they accommodate for the new expectations of the workforce. Some trends that pick up may include:
§ Remote and hybrid work offerings
§ Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives
§ Pay transparency (it’s about time, Colorado is ahead of the game here)
§ Coaching, mentoring and clear career paths
§ Horizontal structures
§ Climate and culture programs that boost belonging
§ Personal time, parenting and illness paid time off
There will be a reimagining of customer facing jobs: for the first time, companies will reassess the value of their frontline, and jobs that interact directly with clients can expect to receive renewed respect, more flexibility, better benefits, and much more corporate support.
3. PROFESSIONALISM WILL HAVE A NEW DEFINITION.
Hustle and grind culture will not die. In fact, they will continue to be popular, but the way in which they show up will dramatically change. Whereas before people held 1,2,3 jobs to make ends meet and they bought into the “side hustle” culture, there will be a new interest in finding one better paying, more inspiring, single occupation.
On top of that, the collective definition of professionalism, will distance itself from the dominant white-male culture and shift into a new age.
Where suits and ties and sharp haircuts were once synonym with professionalism, we will expect responsiveness. Being “professional” will no longer go hand in hand with being “polished” or showing up at the office early. Having your ducks in a row will be less important than being able to jump in to address a crisis. The last nail in the coffin might have been pandemic driven remote work, where we all learned to work in our jammies, and log into meetings at the last minute, and we aren’t about to forget about it.
As Gen Z and Millennials gain ground in the professional world, they will bring about a change in principles. The people that can’t stop themselves from blurting “Good morning gents” (or other micro aggressive or exclusionary comments) will seem less apt than those who say “Good day folks”.
There will be a real need to adapt to social expectations. People who are willing to adjust to new social norms and become more culturally aware will be seen as more professional. More varied personal styles, self-expression through sociolinguistic diversity and more openness about non-traditional lifestyles will increasingly be more acceptable at work. The times where we mistook tattoos with being less capable are dying.
4. WE WILL REQUIRE DIFFERENT SKILLS
Unpredictable change, which will continue to happen, will require organizations that have a culture of adaptability. Teams that perform will be expected to be better equipped to be self-driven, self-managed and self-motivated. At the corporate level, the rising stars will not be the ones that adhere to the plan but the ones that have the ability to work best independently and from anywhere. Skills like project management and self-efficacy will be most in demand. There will also be a continued demand for human center branding and social media saavy.
We will see a changing business arena with startups and small companies gaining ground on slower giants. As the supply chain issues force companies to reassess risk, businesses will look for increased ability to adapt, suppliers and partners that are closer to home, and a return to doing business with the local community will be tangible in 2022.
Small, agile, hybrid teams will be decisive, the cubicle is dying.
5. LEADERSHIP WILL EVOLVE
There will be a shift in the definition of a good leader. Leaders used to be praised for picking out the best talent and recognizing the individuals that stood out. Pointing out a protégé that looks and sounds exactly like you, will no longer be considered admirable.
Leaders will now be praised for finding talent in non-traditional pools and for striving to be equitable. They will be recognized for creating paths toward social mobility for underrepresented groups and seeking to include everyone. Besides, empowerment will be necessary to engage in a flexible hybrid world and those leaders who cannot delegate will have the hardest time leading successful teams.
In conclusion, employees will continue to have the upper hand in 2022 and the companies that can capture and respond to the culture shift will be able to secure talent best. This stands to be a great opportunity for companies to redefine their roles and the way they do business. If they capitalize on the shift, they can find people that perform better and whose talent is much more aligned to the new expectations.
Image sources: Business Insider, Microsoft Images.
Paola Baglietto is Chief Catalyst at Inclusive Culture, LLC (www.createinclusiveculture.com)