HR Insights 8 min

HR Trends in 2022: What 3 BambooHR Surveys Tell Us

January 25, 2022

As we enter into year three of a global, paradigm-shifting pandemic, it’s high time we stop reacting and start making the proactive changes our employees and organizations need. To help everyone better see the way forward, BambooHR conducted three surveys in 2021 that take a deep look into how the pandemic continues to redefine work, culture, and the employee experience.

The surveys covered: 

  • The effects the pandemic is having on career progression
  • The often-misunderstood realities of a hybrid work model
  • The impact of remote work on company culture

Keep reading to see the major findings of each survey and how they can help you support your people and your business.

The Effect of the Pandemic on Career Progression

The COVID-19 pandemic sent many traditional office workers into the unfamiliar territory of working from home full-time. This disruption to routine, combined with isolation, financial uncertainty, and health concerns, created a perfect storm of stressors when it came to career growth and plans for the future.

Major Findings

  • Stalled careers: An overwhelming 78% of respondents said the pandemic has negatively affected their careers. This is mostly attributed to burnout or a lack of work-life balance. 
  • Some progress: When it comes to career progression for remote workers, 76% of Black remote workers feel they’ve made career progress this past year—the highest of any demographic. 
  • Inequities remain: 48% of White workers responded that they’ve had to put in more effort to prove their worth during the pandemic. However, more Black and Hispanic/Latinx employees reported feeling the same, at 60% and 59%, respectively.

Takeaways for 2022

Employers need to focus on giving more flexibility to their employees. This will empower workers to blend personal life with work in a way that best suits them individually, reducing burnout and turnover. Shortened workweeks or designated “no meeting” days are just some of the tactics employers are using to deliver this flexibility.

When it comes to equity in the workplace, employers should be aware of how the pandemic has  made an already significant issue worse through its disparate impact on underprivileged and minoritized populations. As we move into the new year and continue to engage in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it will be important for employers to be deliberate about collecting and acting on employee feedback to create workplaces in which every employee has equitable access to support and opportunity. 

Read the full survey report on COVID-19 & Careers: The Effect of the Pandemic on Career Progression.

Hybrid Work: Expectations vs. Reality

The hybrid work model blossomed in 2021, with many workers splitting their time between the office and home. In many cases, the expectations of returning workers or those entering into a hybrid work model didn’t match the reality of this rapidly changing workplace arrangement.

Major Findings

    • Changes in benefits: 61% of employees report that in-office perks, like free lunches, are down since the start of the pandemic. 
  • Different generational preferences: 41% of Baby Boomers are interested in fully remote work, while only 27% of Gen Z and 28% of Millennials feel the same way. 

Takeaways for 2022

Building an engaging employee experience means coming up with targeted benefits directly related to your employees’ career development. Consider department-led programs or benefits that address work experience and speak directly to the needs of employees in order to foster greater team connection and career success in a given role.

As for generational and work arrangement differences, employers need to be intentional in creating a culture of connection and inclusion. Without this, they run the risk of creating silos that fracture collaboration and innovation among teams or individuals who are fully remote, hybrid, or fully in office. 

And if all this sounds overwhelming, just remember that employee growth and mentorship programs only benefit a company in the long run.

Read the full survey report on Hybrid Work: Expectations vs. Reality

How Remote Work Affects the Culture Conversation

The rise of the remote workforce fundamentally shifts how leadership, employees, and HR cultivate company culture. Organizations can’t rely on old strategies to inspire productivity and employee satisfaction, and executives need to get on the same page to create a consistent culture and a supportive employee experience.

Major Findings

  • Culture starts at the top: 52% of office workers say their CEO is the ultimate decision maker on company culture, with 20% saying it’s HR and 14% another executive. 
  • Not everyone agrees on what culture is: The vast majority of employees (75%) agreed that culture is the values and principles a company operates by, but top responses also included: 
    • The organization’s overall vibe or feeling (66%)
    • How coworkers interact with each other (62%)

Takeaways for 2022

CEOs not only need to remember they are the cultural pacesetters for their companies, but also how important it is to stay aligned on culture with other leaders in the company. When leadership, HR, and managers don’t collaborate on culture together, it creates a disjointed experience that can be exacerbated by a remote work or hybrid environment.

And even though culture means different things to different people, organizations can take action to change a bad culture or maintain a good one. Here are three strategies that always have a positive cultural impact:

  • Transparency from leadership
  • Strong company-wide communication
  • Prioritizing employees’ physical and mental well-being 
Read the full survey report on How Remote Work Affects the Culture Conversation.
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Marie-Reine Pugh

Marie-Reine Pugh is focused on making HR simpler for HR professionals and workplaces a better place for everyone. She pulls from her previous experiences as an educator and six years of writing and researching to explore how to create inclusive company cultures that help businesses succeed.