ATD Blog

5 Talent Trends You May Remember From 2021 That Still Matter for 2022

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The end of one year and the beginning of the next are a prime time for trendspotting, and there are several holdovers from 2021 that will get a ton of attention in 2022.

A lot has changed since the beginning of the pandemic; however, there are talent challenges that organizations will need to continue to address.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Company culture plays a significant role when it comes to providing a positive employee experience. Organizations that acknowledge their workforce is a multifaceted community with peers of different races, genders, ages, sexual orientations, and cultures often reap substantial benefits related to talent productivity, engagement, and retention.

In 2020 and 2021, many companies took action to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace by recruiting diverse talent, training in DEI, and encouraging inclusive practices. That’s a great place to start with marked internal and external benefits, but it’s not a quick fix. A temporary push will never garner the same results as a systemic effort to build, nurture, and sustain a diverse company culture.

Begin with defining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive approach to set the direction for your organization. Focus on incorporating inclusion in your organization's culture to ensure initiatives succeed and are maintained. A strong, inclusive, diverse, and equitable workforce helps attract and retain the best talent.

Employee Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an intense effect on employees’ mental wellness. An SHRM report found that 35 percent of employees suffered from depression in 2020, while 41 percent reported burnout, exhaustion, or feeling emotionally drained from work. Similarly, research conducted by Hibob found the pandemic caused mental wellness to drop by 27 percent for workers in the UK and US.

We live in uncertain times, so it’s no surprise that unpredictability and stress have made an impact on the collective mental health of our workforce populations. Prioritize workplace mental wellness programs to maintain employees’ mental health and promote employees’ work-life balance.

To ensure your workforce feels cared for, nurtured, and engaged, consider conducting activities such as team building, lunches, celebrations of milestones or events, counseling sessions, or fitness classes to help employees keep their mental wellness and make your workforce feel connected either in-person or via video calls. Educate workers about mental health issues, such as depression, stress, and anxiety, and how to deal with them; give them easy access to any resources your company provides.


Hybrid Work

What's your company's plan for work from home in 2022? As the pandemic continues, remote work becomes more firmly entrenched, and roughly 9 out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and on-site working, according to McKinsey.

There was a lot of skepticism about remote work, but the COVID-19 pandemic made working outside the office a reality that HR leaders had to learn to navigate quickly. Now it’s less a case of denying the truth—many job roles can be performed at home—and more about embracing a hybrid model of work.

If your employees have been working consistently from home since the beginning of the pandemic, denying them the opportunity to work from home permanently without any justification is unfair and likely won’t be tolerated. With alarming stats from the Great Resignation, organizations that do not reasonably accommodate remote work will experience talent shortages at all levels of the organization.

Digital Transformation Accelerated

Digital transformation is not new; however, the speed of digital transformation has increased rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and digital change will remain fast-paced in 2022.

Virtual communication and teamwork training support digital transformation through teaching employees new digital-centric skill sets, analyzing employees’ current skill gaps, and updating HR support strategies accordingly.


Take proactive steps to address the impacts of shifting work online. First, identify competencies that will support digital transformation, such as inclusion, emotional intelligence, and change management. Second, improve continuous learning to increase leadership effectiveness and improve workforce efficiency in the prioritized competencies. Third, support technologies that will drive digital collaboration and increase productivity.

Organizations that embrace digital transformation can reap benefits such as higher performance in innovation and more frequent, data-driven decision making.

HR in the Spotlight

In the last few years, HR has been receiving widespread recognition for being the driving force behind value creation in organizations. The effects of the pandemic have accelerated this. Employees now expect more from their employers, which makes HR’s role more far-reaching, meaningful, and stressful than ever.

Organizations have finally realized HR’s role in enabling business continuity in times of crisis. However, leaders must be prepared to recognize and respond to talent complications created by the crisis and develop strategies to solve those issues to ensure impacted employees can continue to contribute to the business.

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted organizations to adapt to new models of work. HR must continue to evolve to improve employee experiences and meet rapidly changing business requirements. In 2022, the future of HR is now.

About the Author

Kip Kelly has over 25 years of marketing and communications experience, with a strong focus on talent management, executive education, professional coaching, and leadership development. Most recently, Kip managed marketing efforts at the NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) where he led the ICF-certified Brain-Based Coach Training program, supporting professional coaches globally. He has designed and delivered leadership development programs for Duke Corporate Education and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world for executive education. His expertise in diversity, inclusion, and the use of data and analytics in learning and development has earned him a reputation as an industry leader, having published over 60 research studies and white papers, as featured in Chief Learning Officer Magazine, TD Magazine, Training Industry, HR Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Financial Times, and a host of other leading publications.

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