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The Great Resignation: What’s on the horizon for businesses in 2022?

Over the last year, as the pandemic has evolved, the working model has been turned on its head. Businesses have had to navigate another national lockdown, work from home advice and office returns – as well as the widely discussed ‘Great Resignation’ and ongoing talent shortages. 

Whilst the events of the past year have once again proven that it’s impossible to predict what’s around the corner, we spoke to a range of industry experts about what evolutions we can expect in 2022. 

‘The Great Reset’? 

The Great Resignation, the phenomenon that describes record numbers of people leaving their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic ends, has been discussed far and wide across sectors and regions.

Research indicates that 58 percent of UK workers in IT and Computing are considering a new role over the next few months, which is concerning considering that 38% of IT leaders believe their existing skills development programmes are being outpaced by the rate of technology change, contributing to the growing skills gap.

Tony Prevost, HR Director at Skillsoft

“In today’s candidate-driven market, recruitment starts with retention,” notes Tony Prevost, HR Director at Skillsoft.

“As we transition into 2022, organisations need to ensure that they’re building on top of what they’ve already got, rather than strictly filling the roles of people walking out the door with external candidates.

“The challenge for employers in this brave new world, where we can work from any location, is considering what employees gain from the workplace outside of a salary. In part, it’s about upskilling people, not just in the core skills needed to do their job, but in the skills needed to be effective and productive from anywhere. Employers should also produce clear development plans that don’t just suit their needs as an employer, but also suit their employees’ career aspirations.”

“Positive changes aren’t necessarily financial, employees value incentives that make them feel valued, such as time-off, healthcare insurance or volunteering opportunities,” furthers Kathryn Barnes, Employment Counsel EMEA at Globalization Partners.

“At Globalization Partners, we have offered more vacation time, encouraging people to rest and reflect after a tumultuous eighteen months.

“It’s important to remember that today’s workplace looks very different to how it was pre-pandemic, with 98% of businesses now enjoying remote work of some variety. You get so much more out of your employees when they work flexibly, and as the workplace continues to evolve through 2022 and beyond, the biggest pitfall a company can make is not embracing change.”

Danny Lopez, CEO at Glasswall, adds that if there is any topic the cybersecurity industry will continue to discuss in 2022, it’s the talent shortage.

“In an attempt to respond to the skills shortage exacerbated by the ‘great resignation,’ commercial enterprises will find themselves also looking at the talent pool of former (and now reformed) hackers in an effort to improve their own cybersecurity systems and pad their teams.

“The most easily achieved response to addressing the labour shortage today, beyond getting creative with hiring, is to ensure that organisations have the correct products to protect their systems and data and automate more menial tasks for their security analysts and leadership — so they can spend their time focusing on stopping digital adversaries. Overall, companies must be proactive in both their recruitment and building out their cybersecurity infrastructure.”

Hybrid working is changing the game

Throughout 2021, we saw business leaders continue to operate remotely or begin to adopt a hybrid approach to working – and this has opened up possibilities for the future.

Terry Storrar, Managing Director at Leaseweb UK predicts that in 2022,

“business leaders are going to face a split: continue working remotely, return to the office or fully embrace the hybrid approach.

“For many companies, it has become clear that adopting a remote or hybrid work model can be a much more efficient way to conduct business, as well as improving employee satisfaction. As such, office space is likely to become more centred on hot-desking and drop-in facilities. Time spent with colleagues will subsequently become more meaningful, collaborative and innovative as “together time” is used in a more structured way.”

Developments like hybrid working have dramatically reshaped the work environment and redefined how organisations approach learning and development.

Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA at SumTotal, said that,

“with workers, managers, and business leaders all feeling the pressure to upskill and reskill, organisations began rethinking their L&D models in a bid to foster lifelong learning cultures that allow employees to quickly build, develop and transform their skills – often on their terms.

“To build the high-performing workforce of the future and demonstrate to employees that their development and advancement matters, in 2022, we expect many organisations will go ‘all in’ when it comes to enabling more predictive and personalised learning journeys that motivate and encourage professional development and improve employee engagement.

“By leveraging the power of emerging technologies, they’ll be able to actively tune learning content to each individual’s current role and future needs.”

Changing priorities for IT leaders

Unfortunately, the mass acceleration of people working remotely that we’ve seen over the past two years has drastically increased the threat landscape.

Stuart Abbott, AVP & GM, UK & Ireland at Commvault, believes,

“this isn’t likely to change anytime soon – I don’t believe we’re going to see employees going back into offices full-time in the near future. Because of this, in 2022 we will unsurprisingly see cybercrime – and ransomware specifically – continue to be a major challenge for organisations. Protecting their ever-growing IT environments will be a major priority.”

He adds, “in 2022, business leaders and IT leaders need to agree on what their priorities are. Historically, cybersecurity projects have not always had as much budget behind them as they perhaps should have, and this needs to change.”

“2022 is likely to be the year of the ‘reckoning’ where some companies will pay the price for holding back on innovation,” adds Rich Pugh, Chief Data Scientist at Ascent.

“The chasm will have widened between companies that have embraced data to become smarter and more digitally nimble relative to their counterparts that find themselves in a changed landscape with an outdated business model. The world has shifted and they will find themselves left behind. Those companies who kept the pedal down on data and analytics, and invested in AI and machine learning to support their data-driven business model, will emerge as leaner, smarter, more engaging businesses.”

Vince Padua, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Axway, highlights that customer confidence has become more critical than ‘choice’ in the ‘age of any’.

“It’s cliche to say that customers want choice and selection. With the abundance of choices consumers and businesses have today, I predict that choice isn’t what these constituents desire; instead, they seek confidence in the decisions they make. To reduce ‘choice fatigue’ and increase stakeholder confidence, enterprise software vendors will consolidate products into bundles and subscriptions. Those who do this well – user experience + increased confidence – will see shareholder value grow 2x faster than their top-line revenue.”

DEI will step up a notch

Organisations across industries have been making diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) a priority over the last eighteen months, with Skillsoft reporting a 72% increase in DEI course completion since March of 2020

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA, Skillsoft

“Without any doubt, DEI is a strategic conversation that most companies need to have these days,” said Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft.

“Commitment to DEI will only accelerate in 2022. However, to create an enduring DEI culture, businesses must reinforce that DEI matters by speaking loudly about issues and initiatives. Organisations must listen to employees’ views through focus groups or internal webinars, ensuring that employees from varying genders, ethnicities, sexualities, geographies, and intellectual and physical disabilities are involved in the project. Visibility is everything, and whilst it’s vital that these initiatives are happening, they cannot be hidden behind closed doors. Speaking publicly about DEI should be as much a part of the strategic agenda.”

Mini Biswas, Pre-Sales Manager at Node4, adds that it’s so important that teams working on technology projects, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) initiatives, are diverse. “It ensures that the technology reflects the general population – be it gender, ethnicity, age, geography, experience, education, interests, and more. Improving diversity within the tech industry is a crucial element in developing the best new technology, closing the skills gap, and creating an inclusive culture. As we head into 2022, this should be a top priority for every organisation in the tech industry.”

Environmental policies will be on the agenda

Environmental policies have also climbed up the corporate agenda this year, and are likely to grow in 2022.

Gareth Tolerton, Product Innovation Director at Totalmobile, concludes:

“Monitoring your carbon footprint is now more important than ever. Investment markets will now typically only invest in companies with a net-zero strategy, therefore companies need to show how they’re going to get there. 

“For organisations with mobile workers, solutions such as job scheduling will gain importance as a method of determining the carbon footprint of journeys being made, for example. Previously this would typically have been less of a priority when it came to scheduling jobs, however in 2022 I think we’ll see more companies taking their carbon footprint into account during the scheduling process and altering routes to reduce this, even if that may mean slightly higher costs.”

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