Talent Acquisition, Retention – a Huge Issue for 2022

04 Jan, 2022 Nancy Grover


Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Forty-percent of  workers worldwide are considering job changes, according to a recent  Microsoft Work Trend Report. For an industry like workers’ compensation, already facing a dearth of new talent before COVID-19, the issue is a major pain point confronting employers.

Exhaustion, blurred work-life balance lines and digital fatigue are among the many reasons employees cite for being unhappy with their current employment situations. But there is no one-size fits all solution, especially since employees strive for somewhat contradictory goals; while many want the flexibility of working from anywhere, they also crave more in-person contact.

“In this next year, it’s all about people. They are our greatest asset,” said George L. Vergolias, Medical director for R3 Continuum. “One thing we’re all going to have to do better is we’ll have to expand our toolbox, in terms of resources. And we’ll have to get out of siloed thinking in how we handle problems.”

During a recent webinar Vergolias cited several trends seen in surveys of employers and employees, what organizations can expect in this new year, and ways companies can whether the challenges ahead.

Recent Trends

A focus on employee wellbeing, the acceleration of various types of digital transformation – especially zoom webinars, and new partnerships have been among the positive developments in 2021. However, there have also been some pain points.

“COVID-19 created tensions, and it tested the limits of the worker/employer relationship,” Vergolias said. “Early on we saw certain pain points around concerns of safety; later on we saw pain points around mask mandates, and then we saw and are still seeing pain points around vaccination requirements. And we’re seeing different businesses handle that differently. But what that is doing is it really is testing those boundaries of where does an employer’s reach and where does their due diligence end and begin in terms of creating safe environments for their workforce.”

A recent Harvard Business Review study sheds some insight into how these changes are impacting workers.

  • 89 percent of workers surveyed say their work/life balance is getting worse
  • 85 percent say wellbeing has worsened in general
  • 56 percent say their job demands have increased
  • 19 percent of women felt their job was at risk

Among employers, 75 percent are looking toward positive growth and innovation in 2022, according to a Deloitte survey of CEOs. They believe the business community will thrive and adapt to changes. Mental health and wellbeing, along with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are a priority among many corporate leaders as well.

Predictions for 2022

Based on the trends, researchers say there are several trends to expect in 2022.

Hybrid work – the biggest disruption to expect in 2022. A majority of leaders surveyed by Microsoft said they were considering redesigning their office spaces for hybrid work. Among their workers, a majority want flexible remote work options, but also want more in-person work.

“What we’re seeing is kind of a split in both directions. Leaders are definitely responding and trying to create workspaces that can adapt to more remote and hybrid work environments; three-quarters of workers want flexibility to work from home and the office and yet two-thirds are also saying ‘we still want that in person engagement for collaboration,’” Vergolias said. “This is going to be a disruptive factor as we move forward and companies are going to have to figure out a plan to navigate that in a way that works for their culture, their industry and at some level their bottom line as well.”

Talent acquisition – will rapidly change. Deloitte’s Insight Report estimates 100 million global low-wage workers will need to find a different occupation by 2030, while the demand for skilled workers is growing. Many white-collar workers with higher degrees are choosing to leave their current work arrangements. Younger workers increasingly want to feel rewarded and supported by their employers.

“Questions of attracting talent, retaining talent, and developing internal talent will continue to be massively disruptive,” Vergolias predicted. “All these things are forcing business leaders and talent acquisition leaders to rethink ‘how do we attract and retain and develop people in our organizations.’ That’s going to be a challenge.”

Employer/employee disconnect. While a majority of business leaders surveyed say their companies are thriving and accelerating, only 38 percent of their workers agree. While some companies are evolving from top to bottom, most are not.

Workers are exhausted. A trend begun last year that continues to grow is higher productivity – but at a price. Eighty-five percent of employees report the same or higher productivity from the prior year; but fifty-three percent more feel overworked, and 39 percent feel more exhausted than in the previous year. “Yes, we are doing more but we’re paying a high, high toll on employee wellbeing,” Vergolias said. “When you marry that with the talent dilemma, that is a real concern, it is a recipe for disaster.”   

Digital intensity is increasing. The number of zoom and other on-line communications has risen exponentially. However, one result is digital fatigue. “It’s draining to feel we are constantly ‘on,’” Vergolias said. “This has an emotional and psychological drain and is a cognitive load over time. You have to be mindful of that going forward.”

Vergolias advises business leaders to empower workers to use muted backgrounds rather than their own homes, to create a boundary between professional and personal life. Or, allow employees to be ‘mute’ on meetings occasionally.

What to Do

Despite the pandemic, there are strategies employers can take to keep their workers happy and productive and help attract new talent. Vergolias describes them as: 

  1. Champion behavioral health at the top. That can mean leaders admitting their own vulnerabilities.
  2. Foster open and clear communication.
  3. Engage your employees. Get to know them. Reach out to them. Don’t be distant.
  4. Model strength and vulnerability. It’s ok to stumble – and get back up.
  5. Know and assess thyself. Constantly looking at yourself to better yourself and improve.
  6. Know your lane. If you need help outside your area of expertise, reach out.
  7. Be bold. Revolutionary changes are occurring at a rate not seen in over a century. We have to be bold to come up with solutions that’ll push us through into whatever the next normal is going to be.


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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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