Ed Heffernan, Managing Partner with Barden, outlines the five main trends in the world of work, and explains why 2022 may be less disruptive than the recent past.
It has never been a better time to be a qualified professional. Pent-up demand for talent shows no sign of weakening; employers are increasingly flexible in terms of the background they will consider; hybrid working models look set to stay; and as organisations are getting ambitious about tomorrow again, there is ample opportunity for internal promotion or development in large swathes of the market. The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the world of work ten or more years into the future, and it might be one of the few positives we can take from what has been a trying time for so many.
As we look forward to 2022, we expect some trends to continue and others to emerge.
1. Hybrid working models will become embedded and will be a crucial trading variable in talent attraction and retention.
While some organisations will exist in the extreme (100% work from home or 100% work in the office), most organisations are landing on a 3:2 working model with three days in the office and two days working remotely. New joiners will likely build up to this over time (as there are definite advantages to being in the office more while learning the role). Individuals who have earned the right will likely enjoy even more flexibility with tenure. Companies that vary significantly from this model will find themselves highly uncompetitive in terms of both talent attraction and retention in the future – fact.
2. Virtual interview processes are here to stay, but in-person interviews are not gone forever.
In 2019, very few companies hired people without a face-to-face meeting. Today, very few companies hire people with a face-to-face meeting. In the coming year, virtual interviews will dominate the early stages of the recruitment process. In-person meetings will then return for the final stage of the process – for the comfort of both hiring managers and candidates alike. Entirely virtual hiring processes worked fine when people worked full-time from home, but hybrid working will result in a hybrid recruitment process. So don’t throw out the office attire just yet!
3. Salary inflation will become a reality.
When demand exceeds supply, the price of goods inevitably goes in one direction. The same applies to services, and what is work but a service. We currently see some sporadic inflation in areas of high demand (such as newly qualified accountants’ base salaries shifting by up to €2,000 on the €55,000 base that held firm over the past five years). It is inevitable that, in 2022, we will see between 5-10% inflation in base salaries in high-demand professions. This is not necessarily good news from a macro perspective, as it will have knock-on consequences for the supply chain and may dampen demand into the second half of 2022. Higher base salaries, however, are inevitable.
4. The Great Resignation might have a very different meaning in Ireland.
Unlike other countries, we have not witnessed The Great Resignation quite the same way. It could be said that, for many, The Great Resignation has meant a resignation to the fact that people will stick with their current employers rather than resign. People have working patterns now that could be hard to replicate in a new company. Those who have been looked after by their employers over the past 18 months have a heightened sense of loyalty. People often feel more secure staying in their current role in times of uncertainty, and job security has been identified time and time again as a critical factor for candidates over the past six months. This will not last forever, but it is likely here for the first half of 2022 at the very least. Sometimes, it’s better the devil you know…
5. Notice periods will be extended.
Three years ago, a one-month notice period was the norm. Sure, there were exceptions where people had to give two or even three months’ notice, but they were outliers. These days, one month’s notice is the outlier. This is likely driven by several factors: difficulty in hiring, time to set people up remotely, longer induction lead times etc. A significant number of companies have changed their notice periods in reaction to a longer lead time to replace and on-board. Two months’ notice is the norm these days, and we expect this trend to become even more evident in 2022. It simply makes sense.
Other things are likely, too. Temporary staff will become increasingly difficult to source and retain for the contract duration as there’s too much competition from permanent roles. Work from home allowances and set-up costs will become a material element of salary packages. Annual leave days will become an increasingly important consideration – the statutory 20 days will not cut it in 2022. Start times and finish times in the working day will become more fluid – we’ll see an increase in companies citing “core hours” and allowing flexibility, assuming a contractual number of hours are worked per week. Company and team days will become increasingly frequent as organisations strive to keep people connected, reinforce culture, and share information usually learned at the water cooler. I could go on, but I won’t.
In 2022, we expect a little more consistency and less change in the world of work. Existing trends, as outlined, will continue and embed themselves in the system. Other trends will emerge, but they are less likely to be as significant or impactful as the change that has gone before. 2022 will be more about embedding the patterns that have evolved over the past two years and setting a firm foundation for what work will look like long into the future. Probably.
Ed Heffernan is Managing Partner at Barden.
You can read this article and others in Career Guide 2021/2022.