Member Article

What are the business trends for 2022?

In a landscape defined by uncertainty, complexity and interconnectedness – stretching from the climate crisis; rising authoritarian regimes and division among democratic powers; unsustainable inequality; growing dividedness and divisiveness in society; a “business as usual” approach is no longer a viable option to make progress on the challenges we face today.

We are starting to a see a global awakening across every sector in the economy, with a growing number of employees speaking out, establishing a stance and holding their organisations to account. According to research from Unily, almost two-thirds of UK workers said they were more likely to work for a firm that has strong environmental values. While a separate study found that nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of a business’s corporate sustainability. Employees want to feel proud of where they work and, as we progress through the new year, we expect their search for a deeper meaning, purpose and connection in their workplaces to continue.

Employees will continue to become greater advocates for change

We will continue to see global movements - Extinction Rebellion, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and the #OkayMovement - ripple into the mainstream, and with it, the workplace. This year we expect to see more empowered voices reject the status quo and bring truth to power. With every action is also an opposite reaction; this year we also expect to see move of the “anti-woke” movement enter our workplace. All of this will require our organisational leaders to navigate nuanced interventions around social and political conversations spanning diverse viewpoints. How companies prioritise and handle this will also vary from business to business. Some organisations will see an increasingly vocal employee base as a distraction to the “real work” and look to limit or restrict political conversations on internal communication channels, like Basecamp, Slack or Coinbase in months gone by. Other organisations will see this dialogue more entwined with their “real work” – and seek to further engaged their workforce and embed social justice within the heart of their business model (be it out of love or out of fear!).

Although both paths will come with disruption, opportunities and challenges, it appears the businesses that look to embrace change are best placed to attract and retain talent and make progress in creating a company culture that can unlock their teams’ potential. Given that, as previously mentioned, almost two-thirds of UK workers want to work for an environmentally thoughtful business, it seems that social policies and beliefs will continue to become a key influence in a jobseeker’s decision over a future employer.

Organisations will renew and deepen their accountability around EDI

EDI consultants and training organisations have been in high demand over the last few years with businesses – big and small – formalising their commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). The pandemic may have derailed companies’ plans to prioritise EDI, but as recovery starts to build and the dust settles on their past commitments (and frustration grows with a one rule for the people and another for our leaders), we will see business place fresh emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and stakeholders place greater importance on clear action, transparent reporting and accountable practices.

In the past many organisations have prioritised short-term tactical diversity and inclusion measures – such as sending out public statements or setting hiring targets for entry-level positions. This year we expect to see organisations start to grapple with the longer-term adaptive changes that are required to create an inclusive environment capable of unlocking the talents of a diverse workforce. We expect that some will find the pace of change too fast - and others will find the pace of change too slow. It appears that the businesses that look to build a deeper capacity for getting comfortable doing the deeper work and navigating these tensions will be best placed to build diverse teams and inclusive working cultures. Business leaders will not have all the answers

All of this, and more, will require our business leaders to stretch and get comfortable with the truth that creating meaningful change will require them to disappoint some of their own people. These trends don’t meet our desire for straightforward answers and move beyond the realm of “best practice” to a place that holds paradoxes, embraces the unknown, and navigates experimental approaches. These trends will also require our employees to give our leaders enough space to reach across, admit they don’t have all the answers, and take risks in service of meaningful change. This year we expect leaders to have to grapple with how to keep check on the pace of change. The danger of pushing too much too fast, for some, is the risk of destabilising the organisation beyond its limits. The danger of pushing too little too slow is the renewal of the status quo and very little meaningful change. We expect this year to be a year of complexity and also progress.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Benjamin Lane .

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