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What it takes to be a top HR leader in 2022

Are you prepared to conquer the six leading challenges facing HR professionals now?

HR leaders face unprecedented challenges, many of which were outlined in our 2022 HR trends report. These challenges have been compounded by a pandemic that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.

Amongst these challenges is a struggle to recruit quality employees. This problem has been exacerbated by a confluence of trends — from record amounts of workers retiring early to a mass exodus of people leaving jobs in search of more fulfilling career opportunities (i.e., The Great Resignation).   

Another critical challenge is making sure employees feel valued — physically, emotionally and financially. Further, society at large is facing an equity challenge that is impacting today’s workplaces.

While pressing challenges like these may seem daunting, there is good news. There are solutions HR leaders can employ to conquer the problems affecting the workplace.


1—Adopt return-to-work strategies

One in three American workers would not want to work for an employer that required them to be onsite full time.


Workers' heads are spinning amid the onslaught of ever-changing return-to-work policies. Blame the persistent pandemic, blindsiding best laid plans. But keeping workers and the workplace safe must remain a priority. What can companies do to make their return-to-work policies less disruptive for their employees?

Here are some ideas.

  • Plan ahead. Create a communications plan and change management strategy.
  • Establish safety guidelines. Closely follow the safety recommendations from trusted governmental and public health agencies and healthcare experts.
  • Communicate with your teams. Keeping everyone informed will help keep your teams on the same page. Open and honest communication will help employees feel safe and cared for.
  • Provide flexible work options. This will help ease the transition, especially for workers with families.


2—Create a more welcoming workplace

There are 8.7 million workers to fill 9.8 million job openings.


Who would have thought two years ago that hiring new employees would become a massive challenge? Until the pandemic, in most cases, employers were in charge because so many people wanted to be hired. Fast-forward to 2022 and many have bowed out from the workforce entirely. In the uncertainty of the pandemic, many older workers have decided to retire. After getting accustomed to work from home life, many workers are seeking better work-life balance.

In the wake of employee’s new attitudes, HR leaders must adopt new techniques for hiring the best workers. Some ideas include:

  • Creating welcoming environments and modifying workplace culture, so everyone feels able to thrive.
  • Ensuring workers feel respected and valued for their contributions.
  • Promoting and underscoring zero-tolerance policies related to workplace bullying and discrimination.


3—Improve new hire onboarding challenges

One in five employees either reported that their most recent onboarding experience was poor or that they received no onboarding at all.


While hiring top talent is a significant challenge, the next step in the process toward retaining quality employees is ensuring that they have a high-quality onboarding experience. Employees need to be setup for success from the start.

To help ensure organizations don’t lose hard-won new talent, HR leaders should consider these onboarding steps:

  • Assess your onboarding process and compare it to industry standards and best practices.
  • Develop an innovative structured onboarding experience that works effectively in our new remote employment environment.
  • Learn from experience and make real-time changes that will improve the process.


4—Adopt a voluntary benefit program

71.1% of employees would like their employers to offer more voluntary benefits


During the pandemic, many workers started to panic. Not just about catching the coronavirus, but about their personal finances and security. Many wondered what would happen to them if they didn’t have financial safety nets in place. It’s not surprising that voluntary benefits took on new urgency for workers. They viewed the benefits as something proactive they could do for themselves to help prepare for unexpected events.

HR leaders should consider adding voluntary benefits to their traditional benefits package so their workers can enjoy a wider range of perks, including:

  • A variety of insurance plans, from life to pet.
  • Lifestyle benefits like gym memberships and college savings.
  • Discounts for purchases of everything from computers to medication.


5—Meet employees’ workplace wellness expectations

94% of employees want their employers to ensure their benefits package delivers a meaningful impact on their quality of life


In the wake of the pandemic, wellness in the workplace has grown into a major trend. Employees’ expectations have changed more over the last two years than they have in two decades. That’s why more companies are launching total wellbeing programs that impact multiple aspects of employees’ lives— physical, mental and financial health.

To meet this expectation, HR professionals need to add total wellbeing programs that include:

  • Physical wellbeing programs that help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance and optimum wellness.
  • Mental health programs that help employees relieve stress, address mental illness and prevent burnout, such as providing mental health days as part of paid time off (PTO).
  • Financial support programs that include, for example, health spending accounts and flexible spending accounts.


6—Respond to a changing workplace culture

35% of HR leaders are prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion


Along with the pandemic, the world suffered from several societal traumas. Among them, a rise in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes and the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. These unsettling incidents have impacted employees in many ways, including a heightened awareness of systemic racism. These events and others have heralded new expectations about diversity, equity and inclusion.

HR leaders must help their organizations spearhead a transformation in the workplace by:

  • Building a diverse team.
  • Ensuring business practices support diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.
  • Deploying a variety of programs and policies can lead the way to a more diverse workplace.


While HR leaders face a multitude of unprecedented challenges today, there are solutions available to overcome them. Taking action now will not only make employees’ more satisfied with their jobs, but also make recruiting and retention much easier.

When seeking solutions for these and other HR challenges you may be facing, look for highly experienced service partners who can help you navigate new opportunities to strengthen the role HR has in your organization. For more helpful resources, click here