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A look back at the most popular HR trends in 2022

December 14, 2022, 12:43 PM UTC
Blocks reading 2022
From wellness weeks to extended caregiver benefits, HR leaders prioritized employees’ needs in 2022.
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Good morning!

In many ways, 2022 feels like several years combined into one for HR and DEI executives. We began the year debating whether employees should return to the office (an argument that’s lasted all year), took a turn to stressing over the Great Resignation, then a detour to quiet quitting, before ending the year grappling with how to manage employees amid economic instability and mass layoffs. In short, it’s been another whirlwind year for those in people operations, navigating the ever-uncertain and choppy waters of the modern workplace.

Here’s a look at the top five HR trends of 2022. 

Companywide recharge days 

You likely received more “out of office” replies this year as more employers offered workers companywide days (or weeks) off to rest and fully step away from work without worry of falling behind.

Spotify, Adobe, and Hubspot all held their versions of collective days off in 2022. Spotify’s wellness week, which took place in November, provided its 6,000 workers a paid week off to recharge. Such weeks of reprieve illustrate an increased awareness of burnout and mental well-being among employers. 

Intentional office gatherings

Gathering with purpose emerged as a popular HR trend this year as more companies embraced remote-first workplaces that still allow for meaningful one-off gatherings in person, such as training, brainstorming sessions, coaching, career development programming, and all-hands meetings. 

Tying DEI to compensation 

A greater share of companies are linking not only CEO compensation to hitting DEI targets but also that of all managers.

One of my favorite examples is the private equity giant Carlyle Group, which found an effective way to incentivize diversity and inclusion work throughout the entire firm. The company held its second annual DEI Incentive Awards this year, recognizing employees at all levels who’ve made significant contributions to the company’s DEI efforts. 

Employees were encouraged to create and engage in DEI projects and nominate their colleagues for the awards. This work ultimately informs compensation for all employees, including the CEO. 

Over at Sephora, the beauty retailer’s executive team and managers now have D&I targets tied to their bonus or merit increase. And the work appears to be paying off at the leadership level. The company increased the percentage of Black and Hispanic employees in leadership positions by 8% and 16%, respectively, in the past year.

Human centricity takes center stage

2022 was the year of the transparent and human-centric leader, with some CEOs famously crying over conducting layoffs.

Holly May, executive vice president and global CHRO at Walgreens Boots Alliance, told Fortune in August: “I realized that opening up and expressing real vulnerability builds trust and immediately strengthens new relationships…What this created was an inclusive atmosphere where everyone felt comfortable being their authentic selves in the workplace.”

Caregivers unite

Where to begin when it comes to caregiving? More companies expanded benefits to better support the sandwich generation—those caring for both children and elderly parents. 

Hubspot opted to offer more wrap-around support for parents, who make up 27% of its workforce. It implemented gender-neutral policies to help break the stigma that women should shoulder caregiving and launched a returnship program to help caregivers transition back into the workforce.

Amber Burton

ICYMI: Check out the inaugural Fortune @ Work: Return-to-Office Playbook.

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

Emmanuelle Rivet, vice chair and global technology leader at PwC, believes the metaverse also holds promises of increased productivity for employers. Here's what she told me this week: 

“There is a great opportunity to use VR technology for process improvement opportunities…tools that will make them more productive, i.e. multiple screens and contextual visual analytics, things that will be a lot more relevant for employees that can accelerate the pace at which they work.”

Around the Table

A round up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff asked managers to identify the bottom 10% of their employees to reduce personnel costs amid economic headwinds. Insider

- The federal government is the latest employer to try and woo laid-off tech employees. CNBC

- Amazon is delaying the start date for new graduate hires by six months in an effort to keep its headcount low heading into 2023. The Information

- Employers must now reimburse an unlawfully terminated employee for accrued credit card debt and out-of-pocket medical expenses, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Reuters


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Meeting adjourned. In another sign of drastic changes to Twitter’s company culture, Elon Musk disbanded the company’s Trust and Safety Council of about 100 human and civil rights organizations. —Matt O’Brein, Barbara Ortutaty

Nursing shortage. Hospitals have developed in-house staffing agencies to combat the nurse shortage plaguing the industry. —Andy Miller

I love WFH. The latest victim of the remote work debate: relationships. When a couple’s jobs have different return-to-office policies, it can lead to resentment and jealousy. —Trey Williams

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