What Relatable Organizations are Getting Right: Five Trends for 2022 

Apr 21 2021

C-suite executives agree: people and business agendas have never been more intertwined. According to Mercer’s latest Global Talent Trends report, which draws on insights from C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees around the world, there is increased pressure for organizations to contribute to society in a way that reflects the values of their customers, employees and investors – to be more relatable. Employers that listen intently to their stakeholders, use data to guide action, and speak out on issues that matter make it easier for employees to decide if their organization is where they want to spend their time.

Here are study highlights that point to five trends to keep top of mind in 2022:

Reset for relevance. Staying relevant means adapting to changing values of customers, employees and investors. Organizations that walk the talk on their core values – through company purpose, work standards, and investment strategies – will better relate with their stakeholders and be better positioned to deliver business outcomes. The survey found that, after job security, organizational brand and reputation is now the #2 reason that people joined their current employer (a jump from #9 before the pandemic) – and that 96% of employees expect their employer to pursue a sustainability agenda that balances financial results with social issues, diversity/equity, and environmental impact.

Work in partnership. The study found that people no longer want to work for a company, they want to work with a company. Nearly all executives (96%) say we are in an employee-centric labor market and 70% of HR professionals are predicting higher than normal turnover this year – most notably among younger workers and those in the digital space. Nearly all HR leaders (90%) think there is more work to be done to build a trusting culture at their company, particularly as many consider shifting to a hybrid working model. More than half (62%) of employees would join a company only if they can work remotely or in a hybrid engagement, and 74% believe their organization will be more successful with remote working and/or hybrid. By contrast, the majority of Executives (72%) are concerned about the impact of remote working on the organizational culture, as 75% say they have an apprenticeship culture today where people learn side by side, not remote – requiring a redesign of learning.

Deliver on total well-being. The pandemic exposed and worsened the health and wealth gaps for different populations. Shifting the focus from reducing health-related costs to optimizing investment so that people remain healthy and engaged is key to people sustainability. A staggering 81% of employees feel at risk of burnout this year (up from 63% in 2020). Employee well-being is perceived by executives as the people initiative that will deliver the second-greatest ROI in the next two years (after reskilling). Good mental health has always been part of overall well-being, but businesses are doing more to help employees achieve it. Over one-third (36%) of companies are introducing a strategy to address mental or emotional well-being this year.

Build for employability. The pandemic supercharged companies’ race to reskill. Skills-based models are enabling organizations to deploy talent more flexibly and tap into broader and more diverse talent pools – already a priority for one in three organizations. HR’s top reskilling concern is that reskilled/upskilled talent will leave the company. One way to address the issue is to offer more opportunities for employees to use their newly acquired skills. Close to 90% of companies already have or plan to adopt an AI-powered internal talent marketplace platform to facilitate movement. In 2019, 25% of employees said they intend to stop working completely at retirement age; this year, the number is down to 16%. In response, 39% of companies enable employees to adapt retirement benefits to their personal circumstances and 38% are proactively offering older workers different employment options, including phased retirement. 

Harness collective energy. The superfast adoption of new technologies, business models and modern ways of working during the pandemic has taken a toll. Only 63% of employees report feeling energized at work this year, down significantly from 74% in 2019 and the lowest level in this study’s seven-year history. Nearly all companies (97%) are planning enterprise-wide transformation this year, but employee fatigue is cited as the number one barrier to delivering on that transformation in the eyes of all three stakeholders. Employees also cite organizational complexity as a critical barrier. But at the same time, many employees are optimistic about what the future holds: when asked to describe the future of work, 51% expect it to be more balanced, with more time for family, hobbies, health and learning.

About the 2022 Global Talent Trends Study

The seventh edition of Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study brings together the voices of nearly 11,000 C-suite executives, HR leaders and employees representing 16 geographies and 13 industries. Read the report | Watch our webinar.

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