With the new year fast approaching, it is time for leaders to develop a strategic business plan for 2022. This presents a welcome opportunity for businesses to firmly place 2020 and 2021 behind them and move forward with a defined purpose and plan.
Although history can be used as a learning tool, it is important to reflect forward by recognizing the past and what worked; and strategically planning for the future to achieve greater business success.
Below are four questions business leaders should address as they plan for 2022.
1. Does the company have a people strategy?
For savvy business leaders, the answer to this question should be a resounding yes, along with ideas about how to improve upon the people strategy. The single biggest challenge facing employers, now and, into 2022 is their people, as organizations struggle to attract and retain workers during an era fueled by the “Great Resignation.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a total of 15.5 million workers quit their jobs during the four-month period between April and July in 2021.
With employees quitting at alarming rates, leaders should identify the reasons why and address them in their business plans for a competitive advantage in 2022. For example, many workers have voiced their concerns about working arrangements, mental health support, burnout, flexible schedules and advancement opportunities. When a defined plan clearly communicates employer expectations and job requirements, potential hires and existing employees are more confident based on the transparency and feel reassured that their desires align well with the organization.
This also helps to expedite the hiring process because both sides are on the same page. As business leaders examine and/or define their people strategy, they should identify ways to improve the corporate culture, which will have a significant impact on employee morale, productivity, trust and loyalty. For example, more team-building activities or lunch and learn sessions can be planned to promote cohesiveness and camaraderie. Access to an employee assistance program and/or the implementation of an employee wellness program demonstrates the company’s support of employees’ mental health and wellness needs, which can be a wise use of company funds in the new year.
In an employee-driven workplace that emphasizes workers’ needs, employers that prioritize a people strategy based on transparency, attention to employee needs and a robust culture can become employers of choice to attract and retain top talent.
2. How is the business socially responsible?
Forward-looking organizations should readily be able to answer this question with a list of ways they demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CSR), including volunteerism, corporate donation programs and conservation efforts. This is a critical area business leaders should strongly consider implementing or enhancing in their 2022 plans due to the impact it can have on multiple levels, including new hires, existing employees, clients, the community, brand awareness and corporate reputation.
As younger demographics in the workplace and within client bases quickly move closer to becoming the majority, business leaders should be keenly aware of their strong beliefs about companies with CSR programs. This group wants to be associated with companies that are making a difference in the community, so it behooves leaders to incorporate or expand CSR initiatives.
With 2020 and 2021 giving rise to important societal issues, there are opportunities for companies to complement their CSR programs by addressing diversity, equity and inclusion with corporate statements and action plans; compiling detailed disaster preparedness and response plans; and supporting employee wellness through greater attention to physical workspaces.
As CSR programs gain more traction and become increasingly critical in the eyes of internal and external stakeholders, companies that make a firm commitment to CSR will experience happier employees, stronger bonds to the community, increased brand awareness and a direct impact on the bottom line.
3. Is there an ongoing plan for upskilling and retraining employees?
Companies that already have a getting better agenda should not miss a beat as they respond with a laundry list of training ideas and opportunities because this not only affects succession planning, but it also has an impact on employee attraction and retention efforts. When leaders reflect forward, they remember how important it was to quickly retrain and upskill workers during the pandemic, and they understand how critical this area will be in 2022 with an evolving workforce.
As remote and hybrid work models become further entrenched in the business landscape, it is necessary for companies to factor in new levels of training for managerial and succession planning initiatives, helping to facilitate smoother transitions and move the business forward.
In addition, with an increasing number of workers experiencing burnout and re-evaluating their employment options, they might be inclined to learn something new at their current company or seek opportunities elsewhere. When employers can offer the training necessary to accommodate their needs, companies are more likely to increase employee retention and reduce turnover, which can be costly for businesses.
Some ways businesses can boost their programs include adding more in-person and online training programs for new and existing employees; offering a skill set library of courses for self-directed learning; creating a mentoring program; and encouraging conference attendance for networking and learning from industry-related peers. In addition, with a comprehensive performance review program in place, supervisors and employees can chart improvement plans; identify supplemental training needs; and define goals for career advancement.
Companies that evaluate existing upskilling and retraining opportunities and amend the program to fit the current and future needs of the company will have more engaged workers who demonstrate discretionary efforts to help the business succeed.
4. What are the technology needs?
Businesses that do not have a strong reaction to this question will be hard-pressed to survive in a world that is becoming more and more digitally dependent and connected. The Zoom boom served as a big wake-up call about the importance of technology to ongoing operations. The 2022 business plan should include any technology upgrades or new installations necessary to remain current and competitive.
Companies should take into consideration all current and future needs for additional laptops, iPads, company-issued mobile devices and other technology equipment necessary to conduct business, as more employees work in a remote or hybrid environment. Providing the right tools allows for more personal interactions and strategic discussions, while enhancing the overall employee experience.
Training for any new technology also should be factored into the plan. Getting employees up to speed quickly with new software programs and tools, processes or procedures requires time and funding. When employees are well-trained, new initiatives operate in a more streamlined and efficient manner.
When due diligence is taken to address company-wide technology needs and training, organizations will be well-positioned to conduct daily business, face any challenges and leverage new opportunities for continued success.
If leaders incorporate these questions into their business planning process for 2022, and develop a dedicated plan based on their responses, they will be placing people and their needs at the forefront, which is especially critical during this flexible work era.
Fred Lovingier is a district manager for Insperity, a provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, visit insperity.com.