2022 Trends: Organizations Are Now Required to Care for Their Humans – and the Community

February 15, 2022 Sarah Bloznalis Sarah Bloznalis

This is the fifth and final post deep diving into the 5 trends that will transform the way we work in 2022 and beyond.

Over the last month, we have been breaking down the five workplace trends every business leader should know about. From workplace culture to DE&I, these trends have the potential to change the way we work for the better.

Taking care of employees and the community is the first step in creating a better workplace for all. Without employees driving the business forward, there is no business. Without the spending power of the community, there’s nothing to sell. And without a healthy planet to do business on… well, you get the point.

Caring for the community may not look the same for each organization, but these insights will help every company take the right first steps.

1. Humanizing the workplace

At Workhuman® we strongly believe work should be, you guessed it, human. But what does that mean, exactly? We’ve defined it as “a new model of work that leverages the power of human connection to build resilient, high-performing teams that thrive in the hybrid workplace and beyond. Instead of trying to get the best out of employees, the Human Workplace enables employees to give their best.”

Like most things that have occurred over the past two years, creating a truly human workplace will require us to unlearn the old ways of doing business, reimagine what’s possible, and rethink how work gets done.

Work-life balance” first arose in the 1970s, “as stressed baby boomers strove to achieve a balance between career, family, and other areas of their lives.” When “work-life balance” no longer seemed to encompass what employees needed, thought leaders shifted to calling it “work-life integration,” which was swiftly followed by “work-life harmony.”

Whatever we call it, the idea is the same – work is a part of life, and life is a part of work. But remember, while work is just a small part of an employee’s life, life envelops every single aspect of an employee’s work. And in the new world of work, employees want that recognized. Here are a few ideas to get you started on promoting what I like to call “work-life unity” for all your employees.

Foster a culture of caring.

Creating a culture of caring should remain a priority as many employees continue working remotely or hybrid. Kevin Mullins, VP of ESG and partnerships explains: “Long gone are the days of the traditional 9-5 job in terms of separating personal life and work. Today, people’s personal lives are interwoven with their work. Toddlers crashing video calls during the pandemic became a wake-up call to many organizational leaders. The future of work isn’t a place. It’s a new mindset and a new way of doing business: supporting your people to do their best work in the way they can truly be their best.”

Encourage celebrations.

Showcase the human moments your employees experience, both in and out of the office. Celebrating work milestones, new homes, babies, and pets brings employees together while showing the organization cares about more than just an employee’s productivity.

Cultivate belonging.

Peer-to-peer initiatives have the power to drive a sense of belonging in any organization. Whether it’s collecting feedback from anyone in the company or receiving recognition for a cross-department project, putting the power of gratitude into the hands of employees promotes belonging and gives employees a sense of autonomy over their work. When you give people autonomy over their work, you give them more autonomy in their life.

Carve out space for mental health and well-being.

In many ways, we’ve normalized pandemic life; but normalizing something is not the same as overcoming it, or even coming to terms with it. Three months into the pandemic, author and speaker, Simon Sinek, joined us for our first Workhuman Livestream when the trauma of the pandemic was still raw and new. Twenty-one months later his words still ring true: “We are going to have to deal with the emotional trauma,” said Simon. “When you find yourself short-tempered, exhausted, or despondent, remember it’s normal and reach out to those around you for support.”

Author and psychologist Adam Grant has also considered the effect of the pandemic on mental health. He spoke of languishing: “It wasn’t burnout – we still had energy. It wasn’t depression – we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.”

Two years of trauma and languishing have taxed employees’ mental health at scale. Organizations need to make space for employees to grieve, connect, and create support networks to work through this experience together.

2. Revitalizing the community

Imagine – you spend years working to humanize the workplace, to finally achieve work-life unity, only to have everything change once again. It’s not a pandemic this time; instead, it’s the climate.

As framed in Forbes, “A warming planet creates a wide range of risks for businesses, from disrupted supply chains to rising insurance costs to labor challenges. Climate change and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and fires, for example, have a direct impact on 70% of all economic sectors worldwide.”

If the above risks for businesses were not enough to strike action, growing employee expectations certainly should. A 2018 study found a majority of those surveyed expect companies to do more than simply make a profit, including addressing social and environmental issues (86%). Further, 87% expect companies to invest in causes in both local and global communities.

Employees are no longer content with “business as usual” and are ready to have a voice in social and environmental change. A Fast Company survey found more than 70% of people surveyed said they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda.

Whether your organization’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) or environmental and social governance (ESG) strategy has been in place for years or you’re just starting, here are some tips to consider:

Come together.

These are gigantic issues that take collective action to improve. Involve employees by creating a sustainability employee resource group (ERG) focused on making smaller, but just as important changes in and around the workplace. Start an internal campaign by putting up tips around the office to save energy.

Companies, too, can invest in peer-to-peer power. Consider joining an environmental advisory group such as the Sustainable Business & Enterprise Roundtable, a consortium that works with dozens of large multi-national companies on their sustainability practices and programs to gain ideas and insights from industry peers.

Provide volunteer opportunities and donations.

Deloitte found 89% of employees think organizations that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment. More than 75% believe volunteering is essential to employee well-being. Offering employees volunteer hours to pursue a cause they are passionate about demonstrates caring for employees and the community. Organizations may also consider implementing matching campaigns to fundraise issues that are important to employees and the organization.

Start where you are.

Even the tiniest of changes can make a difference. Start by calculating your organization’s carbon footprint. Is one office more sustainable than another? Find out why and implement changes to mitigate discrepancies. Encourage employees to lessen waste in the office (or if they work from home). Using a recognition platform, leaders can acknowledge and reward employees who are taking the right steps to help the environment and their impact. Celebrate the wins, because even if it feels small, it builds positive habits.

About the Author

Sarah Bloznalis

Sarah Bloznalis is a content marketing specialist at Workhuman from Dorchester, Mass. When she’s not writing about the future of work you can find her in the library, at the beach, or exploring the city.

Future of Work