2022 in Review: A Look Back at 6 Major HR Trends

Three office workers review documents together while standing in an office

Taking a look at 2022 in review shines a light on several key trends that shaped the workforce, from rapidly shifting compliance and tax demands to a workforce that demands flexible models and drives purpose-driven transformation. Here's how those trends shaped the year and relate to what to expect in 2023.

As the year draws to a close, leaders taking a look at 2022 in review will likely find they've experienced a demanding and fast-changing 12 months. From adapting to new legislative changes, workplace adjustments and a continued rise in hybrid work models to adopting new HR technologies and meeting the needs of a workforce in flux, the year has been filled with challenges and opportunities.

Here's a closer look at six of the key trends that shaped 2022 and how they're likely to influence the year ahead.

1. Hybrid work is here to stay

The recent shift toward remote and hybrid work significantly changed workplace culture and many other facets of business. As experts have noted, the demand for flexible work models is here to stay and only likely to increase over time. Businesses have had to evaluate strategies for embracing more flexible work models.

One area that leadership has focused on is how shifting expectations and strategies for measuring visibility are vital to successful remote work. Moving from tallying hours spent in the office to measuring employees by their results has helped to build trust among both employers and their teams. Embracing technology and new workplace cultural approaches is likely to continue in 2023 and beyond.

2. Flexible work models add compliance complexity

Compliance routinely tops executives' lists of concerns. In an average year, HR teams may see thousands of new state and national regulations that affect the workplace. This year was no different, but the rapid expansion of remote and hybrid work added new compliance concerns. Issues for HR leaders range from managing payroll tax concerns for remote workers to ensuring that policies and data collection offer accurate insights into where workers are working.

Even previously simple tasks — such as completing the Form I-9 employment verification — take on new compliance dimensions when dealing with and scaling remote work. Core compliance practices and the internal processes that ensure accurate and timely data collection continue to evolve.

3. Tax legislation is moving at lightning speeds

No look at 2022 in review and the related HR trends would be complete without noting the scope and scale of tax changes. It's never been more critical to stay abreast of legislative changes and forge a strong relationship with accounting professionals. This year's shifts included factors such as employee retention credits, loan forgiveness for Paycheck Protection Program recipients and state and local changes as well.

HR leaders will need to pay attention to what's going on in Washington, D.C., right up until the new year because of several key provisions that are under consideration. Comments from the IRS and state tax agencies on how best to implement tax legislation may continue well into 2023.

4. Workers demand — and lead — culture and tech transformation

ADP Research Institute data shows that during the global health crisis, and 71% have changed how they live and work. The fast-changing needs of employees have required employers to embrace innovation, from adopting self-service solutions to new real-time data-gathering technologies.

Innovation encompasses technology and key processes, but it also affects workplace culture. Workers are innovating at cultural levels, from focusing on future-relevant skill sets to making key contributions to the trajectory of a business itself. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has also moved into a key role for both recruiting and retaining essential talent and is quickly being recognized as a vital source of competitive advantage for businesses.

5. Purpose drives greater engagement

The ADP Research Institute showed that employees who feel connected to their employers are 75% more likely to be highly engaged. In a year where trends like "quiet quitting" have dominated headlines, employers are leaning into purpose to attract and retain top talent. Purpose can affect how businesses talk about what they do, how individual roles are measured and the growth paths organizations enable for their workers.

HR leaders are also being called to examine how flexible work models, DE&I and other key workplace trends support broader contributions. In 2023, it's likely that many leaders will underscore their organizations' purpose-driven positioning as part of the employer brand.

6. Worker safety takes on new dimensions

As employers welcomed workers back into their offices throughout the year, worker safety — both physical and psychological — was key. Experts highlighted the critical importance of listening to employee concerns, monitoring engagement and highlighting technology tools to help navigate conversations around safety relating to COVID-19 and beyond.

Legislative rulings on COVID vaccine mandates at the national and state level have also created important new workflows for HR leaders. In the year ahead, COVID-related issues will continue to reverberate and shape discussions on employee safety.

Moving forward with intention

Reviewing the important work that HR teams have undertaken can provide a glimpse into what 2023 may hold. In the past year, leaders have had to adapt to new talent models, keep up with compliance and put critical issues like DE&I front and center in the workplace. Heading into the new year, HR leaders will likely have new opportunities to further engage employees, which will require a sharp eye on taxes, talent and technology.

In the world of work, organizations that prioritize people first will rise to the top. Learn how to design a people-centered workplace.