The Five Biggest Workforce and Workplace Lessons of 2022

For the first time in three years, many things feel normal. But the work world is still a significant exception – and a lot remains in flux. As we get ready for 2023, here’s our work-in-review for 2022.

1. The not-so-quiet rise of The Great Buzzword 

The term ‘Great Resignation’ has been instrumental in explaining the large-scale shift in the labor force over the past several years. But it’s also become a bit exhausting, having given way to many copycat terms that both media and researchers alike have created to describe the steady state of labor in 2022.

Think:

  • The Great Reshuffle
  • The Great Rethink
  • The Great Regret
  • The Great Remorse
  • The Great Breakup
  • The Great Disengagement

And don’t forget ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘quiet firing’.

As tiresome as these buzzwords have become, their rise is not surprising. Throughout the past three years, workers, bosses, and experts alike have struggled to explain the novel phenomena of the radically reshaped pandemic workplace. These terms have helped put a name to and, in some cases, crystalize some of the biggest changes in both organizational and employee behavior and attitudes.

2. Pay transparency inches closer in the US

 While many European nations already have policies mandating that employers list pay, in the US, pay transparency legislation has been limited to a handful of states. But this year, the most high-profile moves occurred in New York City, California, and Washington – notable because, as major employment hubs, it’s nearly impossible for many firms to exclude these locations during recruitment.

Wage transparency can help smooth interview processes and create positive workplace cultures —it’s also a huge component of closing gender and racial pay gaps. Still, some experts say that although these laws may help, the legislation is not a panacea for wage gaps that mostly affect women, people of color, and LGBTQ workers. There is also the blind spot of bonuses, as additional compensation such as performance pay and equity fall outside the law.

3. Yes, hybrid is still a work in progress

This year, many employers have brought workers into hybrid environments – the first widescale test of these set-ups. But lessons are still being learned.

First, workers are still divided on how often they want to go in, an issue that’s often split employers and employees, and even sparks tension among workers. (Some workers even report managers aren’t following the same rules as their reports.) And many companies still haven’t made definitive return-to-office plans, which is keeping some workers frustratingly in flux.

Other considerations have kept a concrete approach to hybrid work in limbo, such as finding accommodations for the growing number of workers with long Covid as well as helping employees struggling with well-being. To tackle challenges like these, most companies are taking an ad-hoc approach – a lot of trial and error, for sure.

4. Firing has picked up – and some of it has been brutal

2022 was largely another worker-favorable year, with hiring continuing at a steady clip, wages rising and employees in good bargaining positions with their employers. However, this may be changing; recent developments may foreshadow a dimmer picture for laborers in 2023. 

As the economy has begun to sour, firings have ramped up and may continue. It’s not just that workers are getting laid off – it’s that the firings have sometimes been tough to swallow. Some companies have gone ahead with Zoom firings, simple email notifications, or freezing workers out of their logins. It’s an adjustment to be let go virtually – one that experts say will take some time to acclimate to. It’s important to acknowledge, though, that compassionately downsizing workforces that aren’t there in person is a new line for employers to toe, too.

As many workers have lost their jobs, though, layoffs are increasingly shedding their taboo. Fired workers haven’t had to hide or feel shame – and many are even building community and helping each other find jobs.

5. Watching the power pendulum in 2023

Employees, as well as workers and companies, have been engaged in a struggle for control all year. Largely, workers have had the upper hand as the labor market has favored them, giving employees bargaining power for things like pay and flexibility. However, as economic situations shift and jobs become harder to come by, some experts predict firms will gain back some of the ground they’ve ceded.

However, experts note it won’t be a zero-sum power shift – workers won’t lose all their gains. Data shows workers are more wedded to remote set-ups than ever. So, whatever the state of the economy, employers will still have to cede at least some ground if they want to keep their workers in their seats.

Source: GWFM News

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