Best HR Stories of 2022


The year 2022 was the year of the employee, inflation, economic uncertainty, and Human Resources leaders as workplace transformers. They led workplace transformation, but they also transformed themselves into C-suite executives aligning talent management strategy with business objectives, counselors, even activists fighting for a more equitable and just world.

Bookended by a talent war at the start of the year and a slew of layoffs at the end of it, 2022 brought a little bit of everything. Now, HR professionals can reflect and what was, so they can move forward with confidence. Here’s a round up of the biggest stories of 2022: 

REPORT: How to Improve Employee Engagement in an Economic Downturn 

Reality Check: Not Enough Labor

Human Resources leaders elevated employees and changed their relationship with them. This shift began as a necessity because the start of the year saw employers still knee deep in the Great Resignation and labor shortage. The thing that no one was talking about, however, is the labor shortage is a longterm problem. In addition to employees wanting higher wages, better work-life balance, and more recognition, there are fewer people to whom employers can turn. Immigration policies and fewer people being born meant that the labor shortage was coming with or without the Great Resignation. This story will continue even as companies slash budgets, freeze hiring, and conduct layoffs. 

WATCH: Recruiting and Talent Acquisition

Getting Women Back to Work

In the early part of 2022, HR leaders still confronted ramifications of the pandemic. One of the big consequences was that women dropped out of the workforce. Many felt they had no choice because of the fact that they were caring for young children or elderly or ill relatives. When 2022 rolled around and the pandemic became more manageable in the spring, employers began recruiting women again. In fact, the number of women in the workforce returned to pre-pandemic patterns. However, the idea of flexibility – giving workers more autonomy over their schedules and work habits – lives on.

READ: International Women’s Day Interviews

Remote Work v. Return to Office

Even though getting women back to the office meant that HR leaders fought for flexibility, many employers had other ideas. They pushed back on continuing remote work. Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon both famously suggested that remote work was less productive and should be prohibited. When all was said and done, most companies chose hybrid work as a compromise. This allowed for people to work remotely but also return to the office on a regular basis. However, the shake up about where and when people work continues to spark debate. Employers are still figuring it all out. HR Exchange Network Advisory Board member and well-known Researcher Michael Arena has shared his studies into effectively managing hybrid workplaces. Leaders will need more of this kind of information as they head into 2023 and beyond. 

READ: Michael Arena’s Column: Leveraging Social Capital

Quest for Equity

Another big story in 2022 actually began in 2020 and has just kept evolving. Spurred by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police and consequential activism, employers focused their attention on creating psychologically safe workplaces that provide equity in pay, opportunities, and interaction.

Indeed, 2022 is the year that many employers showed their genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Some added “B” for belonging to make it DEIB. At the HR Exchange Network Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion event in July, speakers covered a range of relevant topics that included leveraging employee resource groups (ERGs), ways to create a culture of belonging, how to help women facing a threat to their reproductive rights, and the inclusion of disabled people. 

READ: HR Guide to DEI: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

 The Economic Downturn

A year that began with so much promise for employees is ending on a sour note. The economy is down, and some are predicting a recession. The tech sector has already faced layoffs, and some believe other industries will follow. Employees in most of the world are concerned. The economic uncertainty is causing continued stress. Many were already facing burnout. This means that the challenge of tending to worker’s mental health and wellness is even more complicated. So, HR leaders are marching toward 2023 with more heavy burdens to shoulder, but the optimism and strength to get through it. Many HR professionals have said that these challenges are opportunities to redesign the workforce and the definition of work. 

Photo by cottonbro studio for Pexels

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