From education to employment

HR & Learning Predictions for 2022

Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International

Through 2021, the impact of Covid-19 has continued to send ripples in affecting the way we work. Organisations have not only been tackling the return to the workplace but have seen a significant shift in talent with the Great Resignation.

With the latest Omicron variant making a surge in cases, organisations will again have to prioritise employee wellbeing.

According to the ONS, one in six adults experienced a form of depression in summer 2021, compared with one in 10 before the pandemic. Recent research by Westfield Health found that 59% of respondents said that mental health is driving them to change jobs.

Over half the workforce (51%) felt that they were less than a month away from burnout and 47% of all employees consider flexibility to be more important to them before the pandemic.

DeltaNet International Directors, Darren Hockley and Stacey Taylor, highlight the issues they predict will be important in 2022 – the war on talent and flexibility, the next steps with hybrid working, mental health and wellbeing, DEI, sustainability, decision-based learning, using AI in learning, varied course durations and improving employee engagement:

War on talent and flexibility

In 2022, we’ll continue to see a battle for talent. Covid-19 and Brexit have created a perfect storm with masses of skilled and non-skilled non-UK nationals leaving the UK. Organisations who still don’t recognise the need for rapid change to support remote and hybrid working will lead to significant skills gaps. 

Expect a war on talent. The need to value and develop your people has never been more crucial. One of the reasons for the Great Resignation was when employees were forced to return to the office when they were perfectly capable of doing their roles from home. These employees who prefer that flexibility will be the ones who will leave your teams.

Not providing flexibility or allowing employees to enjoy more work-life balance is history. Organisations that put people first will win in the war of talent. Treating employees with the respect they deserve and empowering them to thrive in the environment that suits them best will be pivotal to securing and retaining the best talent.

Hybrid working – where will it go next?

Despite what the government wants, don’t expect to see a rush back to office spaces, especially with the new variant of Covid. Many organisations will continue to offer home and hybrid working policies moving forwards, and the war on talent will give individuals a greater say on this.

Organisations need to play catchup with ensuring compliance for their remote/hybrid workers and that they still offer supportive and safe workplaces for their home workers. This compliance will cut across many areas, including display screen equipment (DSE), ergonomics, information security, data protection, collaboration, health and wellbeing.  

When the lockdowns first hit in 2020, organisations could be forgiven for taking time to adapt and adjust. But we are well beyond the honeymoon period now, so if these things are not 100% right, then expect to fall foul of legislation.”

Mental health and wellbeing

2022 will be more challenging than 2021 for mental health and wellbeing. We often see a delayed response to stressful situations, e.g. PTSD, combined with further change and uncertainty, will see more people than ever suffer. Then the added impact of skills gaps, where fewer employees will need to do more, resulting in a very vulnerable position.

Organisations need to do more than ever to help their employees through these difficult times through good effective management, building awareness for self-awareness and help, and providing support mechanisms. Investing in employee mental health and wellbeing will be crucial, not just for organisations and team management, but for talent attraction and retention.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Attitudes to DEI is a problem often in the home or nurtured through social settings, which then leaks into all aspects of life. Tackling this as a workplace issue is very important, but alone will not achieve significant results. A joined-up approach across all spectrums of life and multiple generations will be required to make substantial results.  

Recent events indicate progress is going backwards rather than forwards. But, just maybe, it could also imply the progress being made. The voice for change is getting stronger. Which could suggest people now have more confidence to speak up because they believe more people are listening. 

Much focus remains on what you should and should not say. Terminology that is acceptable to use today might not be tomorrow because of subjective meaning. People get confused about which words can and cannot be used. And this distracts from tackling the underlying problems. It is not what words are said, but the intended meaning. We must positively influence how people think or feel, and to do this, we will often need to change deep-seated views that have been cemented at an early age and nurtured ever since. Changing viewpoints is a big challenge and not one that training alone will address. 

Organisations will need sophisticated tools and resources that go far beyond policy and training; these tools will support organisations to develop the appropriate values and culture by promoting a clear vision of an inclusive workplace that values and embraces diversity. Easy right? Far from it. But expect to see lots of innovation coming through in this area.

Decision-based/Behaviour-based Learning

Another trend that will take more shape in 2022 is decision-based, or behaviour-based learning.

Using decision making to present learning to employees to provide better context for information and demonstrate the worth of the knowledge imparted is becoming more desirable to employers as they seek ways to gain better engagement and retention from their employees.

Using AI in Learning 

Using AI technologies in training will lead to adaptive learning to truly take off in 2022, with the ability to connect the learner with short, relevant, impactful intervention they need.

While we’re early adopters in this trend, I foresee it becoming a linchpin in the way employees expect training to be presented in years to come.

There are two reasons for that:

the first is that people are becoming increasingly impatient with training that doesn’t feel relevant to them as eLearning carves a larger part of our training landscape.

Secondly and more importantly, though, the next generation of young professionals are entering the workplace; and they have spent their entire lives being fed content that is curated to them, their wants and needs. Whether through their education or how they consume social media, each person in that generation expects to be recognised as an individual with unique views, opinions, merits and competencies.

It should not be a surprise that they expect this from the training provided by their employer. With adaptive learning, offering the option to demonstrate competence and take only training that you have demonstrably failed is a no-brainer concerning employee engagement and meeting the expectations of new employees in the workforce.

From an organisation’s perspective, this makes pure business sense. It reduces the compliance training load by being efficient, saves costs and improves engagement, and at the same time it leads to heightened compliance levels.” 

Varied course durations and types 

In 2022, there will be an increased demand for a wider range of course durations and types. Microlearning really took off when people started consuming content through sites including YouTube – in 5 – 10-minute bites. The trend is currently for sites – like YouTube – to offer longer videos of 25-45 minutes.

Although the rise of social platforms such as TikTok has demonstrated that people significantly invest in the content they can consume in two minutes or less. We have an opportunity to maximise on both elements of how we consume social media to create a wider range of training interventions that capture the imagination with a single key message and provide more focused, but slightly longer, training on areas that are key to organisations.

As a result, we will have to start thinking differently about how we capture ‘training data’ outside of the traditional course completion statistics – xAPI will be a great facilitator in this area.

Improving employee engagement

Organisations need to genuinely consider how they demonstrate their commitment to the culture they are trying to create – posters are not enough to create a culture of compliance.

A compliance culture comes from how organisations launch their training, how they measure its success and share that success, how they reiterate fundamental messages and most importantly, how they demonstrate the behaviours of employees and leaders throughout the organisation who contribute to the right culture. Business leaders have to walk the talk. When employees see that an organisation is incorporating training into a genuine drive for success, they will be more engaged with taking the training. 

It’s important organisations consider what demographic their workforce is made of – the next generation, Gen Z, has different wants and needs are engaged in different ways. HR professionals truly need to consider these things when they decide on both the programme of study they are selecting and how they choose to roll it out.


The key trend for 2022 is going to be sustainability. As we all start to overcome the challenges posed by Brexit and Covid, it’s time to start turning our attention to the big issues we face as a society and how organisations have the opportunity to impact that.

The COP26 and the UK’s expectations for larger companies to publish their net-zero plans are just the beginning of the legislative ”squeeze’ we can expect and embrace.

Organisations are bound to face increasing scrutiny on the actions they take to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, so offering training through eLearning is an easy win to that effect.

Forward-thinking organisations will increasingly see this as a competitive differentiator as the surge of green activities continues.

Darren Hockley, Managing Director and Stacey Taylor, Learning Design Director at DeltaNet International

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