It’s the new year with new themes to pay attention to in business. No one needs another future work predictions article, and I promise not to mention The Great Resignation or the hybrid workforce. What you’ll get are four key takeaways to begin the new year with a solid water cooler conversation starter. Well, let’s change that to homemade French press coffee talk fodder.
Here are four key themes to keep you and your corporate leaders on trend:
1. The Year Of The Employee
This is the year when the employee really shines. The business rules are changing. The workforce has shifted and a new sense of appreciation for employees has emerged — a new kind of loyalty. It’s long been expected that employees will be loyal to companies, and we’ll witness companies beginning to show loyalty to their employees. The keyword is “value.” Employees get to push for aligning their values with company values. Human capital is precious and scarce. According to an IBM study, valuing human capital is a top trend for 2022.
Companies continue to sort through redefining values to reflect employee values. To do so, internal communication will be critical in 2022. This means strong communication teams are necessary to conduct employee research and craft new messages to reflect the new company culture, and outside strategic communication resources will be in demand. Comms needs to be on point and better than ever to survey employees’ valuable data and feedback.
I believe that we will also see a deep focus on a term highlighted at a recent IBM Consulting Innovation Summit that you will hear much more about this year: barrier-free access, aka work from anywhere. Companies desiring a positive future can tap into employee optimism to help navigate the new workplace, according to Harvard Business Review, and rethink the on-demand workforce. In doing so, there will be a push to align work with employee values. You’ll see HR leaders focusing more on necessary skills rather than degrees, and you’ll witness companies inject wellness into a healthier workforce with life strategists and coaches on retainers available for all employees.
For the new global workforce, life and work balance replace the work-life balance.
2. The Year Digital Transformation Has A New Language
Here to stay, digital transformation has stopped being a trend and is part of our daily strategies and processes. What is new is the language we have to converse about it, and this is expected to be a focal point for 2022. Deloitte highlights this new language for digital transformation by emphasizing that a common language for digital transformation could be one of the answers to achieve digital advantage and adaptability. Without a common language for digital transformation, companies lack a connected strategy for digitally transforming the way they think, process, work and interact. Without this language, leaders can’t explain if their digital transformation actually brought about new business advantages.
Meanwhile, the imagination age is upon us, according to the author of Digital Singularity: A Case for Humanity. Digital moments are en vogue, and we need more time to innovate. Author Kevin Parikh advocates for hyper-accelerated innovation, which will be the next phase of the digital transformation.
3. The Year Of Language — More Than New Buzzwords
Language and storytelling are always important to crafting company messaging. In addition to hyper-accelerated innovation, there are a few keywords you’ll want to include in your content: values, presence, autonomy, reinvention, equity expansion, allyship, leadership disruption, community, gender equality, and don’t forget about blockchain. (To understand leadership disruption further, top Exec Search firm Odgers Berndtson has a report about leadership disruption and how leaders must get better at navigating rapid change.)
4. The Year You Make Sense Of Blockchain
Test your tech knowledge this year. Do your due diligence on understanding how blockchain and cryptocurrencies could affect how we invest, bank and use money. You’ve heard about them, but now is the time to brush up on the details. In previous years, you might have scoffed at this, but your company can no longer ignore blockchain. After all, now it’s a place where many digital transactions and smart contracts are recorded.
Preparing For What Comes Next
And as you take on this new year, remember to always keep a trusted advisor, a strategist and storytelling on retainer. You’ll need all three to stay on point for 2022. It’s going to be a bold year.