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Employee Morale, Engagement, & Retention is Top HR Priority

February 23, 2022

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The new State of the Workplace Study from SHRM evaluates how organizations handled key workplace challenges over the last year and takes a look forward at the anticipated workplace trends of 2022.

The study surveyed HR professionals, as well as other workers in the U.S., asking questions on two key areas:

  • How did U.S. organizations perform on key workplace issues during the past year?
  • What are the key priorities and challenges in the workplace for 2022?

“Our research findings provide a deeper understanding of the issues affecting workplaces, HR departments, and employees collectively,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and chief executive officer. “The HR profession is at the forefront of real change, both societally and culturally. There is an opportunity for employers and employees to recognize the inherent power of HR and to reimagine the world of work in 2022.”

Key Findings: Looking Back

  • Both HR professionals and U.S. workers told SHRM that their organizations were most effective in navigating the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce and related safety practices, which had the highest rating out of 24 total actions
  • Only 26% of U.S. workers felt that their organization developed more effective people managers, which was the lowest rated out of 24 areas.
  • Just 25% of HR professionals rated their organization as effective in finding and recruiting talent, which had the lowest ratings from their perspective.
  • 64% of HR professionals and 47% of U.S. workers rated their organizations as effective in providing affordable and comprehensive healthcare benefits, which was the second-highest rated area for both groups.

In response to another set of survey questions, HR professionals told SHRM about the changing reputation and roles of HR in their organizations:

  • 83% of HR professionals reported that their senior leaders relied on HR to help navigate new situations or practices, and 73% of HR professionals reported that their senior leaders recognized HR functions as crucial to the business function.
  • 72% of HR professionals reported their HR staffs were working beyond their typical capacity (too hard and too long).

On key talent issues, HR professionals from remote organizations reported higher effectiveness than those from in-person organizations:

  • Just 18% from in-person organizations reported that they were effective in finding and recruiting talent with necessary skills versus 46% of remote organizations.
  • Only 32% of in-person organizations were rated as effective in retaining top talent, but 47% of remote organizations were effective.

“These differences show that the twin talent challenges of recruiting and retaining talent are much bigger issues for traditional in-office organizations,” said Mark Smith, Ph.D., SHRM’s director of HR Thought Leadership.

Key Findings: Looking Ahead to 2022 

When considering the future of their workplace for the rest of this year, HR professionals reported that organizations are prioritizing efforts to focus on improving the talent challenges from the past year. This includes addressing employee morale, as well as retaining and recruiting talent:

  • 80% reported that maintaining employee morale and engagement is a top priority.
  • 78% said that retaining talent is an organizational priority.
  • 68% agreed that finding and recruiting talent with the necessary skills is a priority.
  • 62% said navigating COVID-19’s continued impact on our workforce and safety practices is a priority.
  • 61% reported developing more effective leaders/people managers is a priority.

To address these priorities, HR professionals reported on their organizations’ plans for this year:

  • 81% intend to train people managers on their roles in supporting their organization’s talent management strategy.
  • 78% plan to increase their employee headcount.
  • 77% intend to improve the soft skills (e.g., empathy, compassion, communication) of their people managers.

The most common barriers to achieving success in the workplace were:

  1. Limited time or dedicated personnel (42%)
  2. Employee resistance to change (40%)
  3. Organizational cultural norms (39%)
  4. Limited budget (38%)
  5. Senior leadership support/buy-in (37%)

Download the full SHRM report here

In addition, hear the results of ASE Partner McLean & Company’s HR Trends 2022 survey results in a webinar recorded on January 19th. View webinar here or read a short synopsis here. The webinar features ASE member-specific results.

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