Outlook for 2022: factors that will shape business in the year ahead

Business leaders reveal the key issues that are likely to occupy their minds – and those of many other senior executives – over the coming 12 months

Getting smarter with recruitment

Katarina Berg, chief HR officer, Spotify

I think 2022 will be the year of either the great resignation or the big attraction. Which one it will be for your organisation depends on the strategies it has in place.

Companies will need to focus on finding smarter ways to attract job candidates. This is a bigger challenge for the many firms that have adopted hybrid working. That said, I think Spotify is well set up to bring recruits on board efficiently and in a way that’s still warm and carries the company’s culture and sense of identity. 

Businesses will also need to look beyond their recruitment practices and consider how their development activities could be enhanced to ensure better rates of employee retention.

Meeting new expectations

Ash Schofield, CEO, giffgaff

Given the speed of change in consumer behaviour, the need to be crystal clear when identifying why customers need your brand has never been greater. The opportunity is there to make yours more relevant if you’re brave enough to act on your insights.

Also, employees’ expectations about the relationship with their company and how they see this value exchange have shifted because of the Covid crisis. Working with your people to ensure that your value proposition is still relevant and appealing will therefore be key to attracting and retaining the best talent in 2022.

Improving cyber defences

Belinda Finch, chief information officer, Three UK

Developing closer working relationships between IT and the rest of the organisation will become increasingly important for businesses. This task is actually slightly easier in firms using remote working models, because everyone is operating in the same virtual space. 

This factor will be particularly important when it comes to maximising the value of the data a business holds. Companies will need to know exactly what information is available to them and which elements of it can be monetised.

Cybersecurity will also be a key concern. The number of attacks is likely to increase across the private sector, so businesses will need to improve their awareness. Cybercriminals will come up with new tactics, so we’ll all need to be on our toes a little more. Rather than simply reacting to attacks, we’re doing a lot more preventive work and improving people’s understanding of the threats.

Addressing uneven wage inflation

Nick Kirk, Managing Director, UK & North America, Michael Page

Because the supply of labour has failed to match the demand for it in recent months, the wages of many people who’ve recently moved jobs have been inflated. 

Employers may have got themselves into a situation whereby recent starters are earning far more than longer-serving colleagues at the same level, many of whom may have stayed put and performed well for their organisation throughout the Covid crisis without seeing much extra reward for their loyalty. 

By the time the Christmas parties are over, such disparities will be common knowledge in the teams affected. These will have to be addressed from the start of next year, which means that the cost of doing business will begin catching up with any productivity gains that organisations may have achieved over the past 12 months.

Creating a greater sense of purpose

Sam Fisher, head of dynamic work, Okta

As businesses grapple for talent by appealing to employees’ changing preferences, we can expect various workplace trends to emerge.

Companies might slash their real-estate budgets in favour of employee benefits, for instance, and we could see a growth in the number of firms turning traditional offices into multi-use spaces. Many organisations will move towards smaller workspaces in more locations that serve several purposes.

As part of this, sustainability will become a central factor. Businesses will increasingly need to consider the environmental impact of various employee experiences and benefits, and to identify ways of helping their remote workers to operate more sustainably. We’ll see some other significant changes as organisations aim to reduce their carbon footprints by rethinking their ESG priorities. 

In the same vein, employees will want to feel that they have a deeper purpose in 2022. Organisations will prioritise corporate social responsibility next year. They will provide more opportunities for staff to not only volunteer for worthy causes, but also donate their expertise on a deeper level.