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It’s no surprise to say that the COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest challenge for HR last year. But that continued well into 2021. While that may not change going into 2022, there are other challenges impacting businesses. And many of them fall on human resources to navigate.
The most obvious challenge of 2021 was the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things looked up early in the year as many businesses planned for a return to the office and hopefully a return to a new normal. But the unfortunate rise of the delta variant led many cities, states, and businesses to revert back to previous safety precautions.
On top of all that, government officials at the federal, state, and local level implemented new regulations regarding sick leave, such as Public Health Emergency Leave in Colorado. Then the Biden administration announced the vaccine mandate regarding federal workers, large employers, and health care staff. Though this situation continues to evolve, it’s left many businesses stressed and confused about the next steps.
As we head into 2022, COVID-19 will continue to cause challenges for businesses and HR professionals. Businesses and their HR department will have to continue to stay up to date on changing federal and local government regulations and update COVID-19 protocols, policies, and procedures to ensure compliance.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the national quit rate is 2.9%—up 30% from 2020! Georgia, Kentucky, and Idaho are the states with the highest quit rate, but every employer has felt the impact no matter their location.
Why are employees leaving? There are a number of reasons:
But it’s not just retaining employees that is becoming a problem, but also hiring them. Industries in healthcare, hospitality, and food service are struggling to find workers willing to come into a work location and put themselves at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Beyond COVID-19, workers are demanding more from their employers—remote work, better growth opportunities, better benefits, and work-life balance just to name a few. Though not every employee chose to look for a new job in 2021, it will certainly continue to be an interesting and challenging job market for employers in 2022.
Unless businesses are competitive in offering the things workers want in 2022, they’ll have a more difficult time finding and keeping employees. So HR will have to build the business case for better benefits.
On top of everything else, 2021 was NOT a slow year for new employment laws and regulations. In many cases, HR had more to contend with for workplace compliance—especially as a result of COVID-19.
In states like Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut labor laws became more abundant and strict. Specifically, in addition to all the new federal regulations, Colorado enacted new laws such as the Equal Work for Equal Pay Act and the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. Some employers are still working to understand these laws and how they impact their business.
Many of these new rules came out in 2021. But businesses can expect 2022 to be the year that the new laws and regulations are upheld. Businesses that can properly implement the policies and procedures they need to be compliant with will have an easier time in 2022—otherwise, they risk costly violations.
Possibly the most positive outcome of the ongoing social unrest and challenges of 2021 is the light it shed on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to combat the unequal treatment of people of different races, ethnicities, income levels, genders, sexualities, and other differences. Whether intentional or not, ongoing bias and discrimination have limited diversity in our workforce and resulted in underrepresented populations.
DEI will be a challenge for HR to fulfill in 2022 but also a great year for growth and progress in this space.
Employers should make a commitment to DEI and foster the right workplace culture. However, based on the challenges of hiring and retaining employees in general, it will be especially difficult to attract and retain diverse workers. So making a commitment to it now will get your programs off on the right track.
Some of the HR challenges for 2022—such as securing talent—will be something every business has to contend with. But it’d be nice to have more time to focus on hiring and retention. Luckily, other obstacles, like compliance and vaccine mandates, can be easily overcome with the right resources.
Obsidian HR offers administrative and strategic HR support to small and medium-sized businesses. With Obsidian HR, you can get more time to focus on DEI efforts and recruiting and retention, and the support you need to easily navigate workplace compliance and information on COVID-19 regulations and vaccine requirements. Contact us today to learn more.