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With the fourth quarter of 2021 right around the corner, and the new year fast approaching, it is time for leaders to develop a strategic business plan for 2022. As is typically the case, a new year offers a fresh start, much-needed reset, renewed focus and new opportunities.
Although many lessons were learned, adaptability and resilience became new buzzwords, technology boomed and innovation was critical to survival, business leaders are eager to put 2020 and 2021 in their rear-view mirrors. With these reactionary years in the past, it is time to move forward with a proactive, strategic plan for 2022 that addresses key areas, helping to avoid any knee-jerk decisions in the future.
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While organizations can certainly learn from history, it is important to reflect forward by acknowledging the past and what worked; and moving ahead with a defined plan and purpose to achieve greater business success.
Below are four key areas for business leaders to consider as they plan for 2022.
Address a People Strategy
The single biggest challenge facing employers now and in the future is their people. Organizations are struggling to attract and retain workers as evidenced by the “Great Resignation”, which is expected to continue into 2022. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a total of 11.5 million workers quit their jobs during the three-month period between April and June in 2021. With employees quitting at alarming rates, many companies face operational difficulties, especially in small and medium-sized businesses at which a small percentage of resignations can have a dramatic impact due to company size.
Leaders should identify the reasons why employees are leaving and address these issues in their business plans for a competitive advantage in 2022. For example, the pandemic made workers hesitant to switch jobs during mandatory lockdowns and uncertain economic times. Many workers have voiced their opinions about working arrangements, mental health support, burnout, flexible schedules and advancement opportunities as well. When a defined plan spells out employer expectations, potential hires and existing employees are more confident based on the transparency and feel reassured that their desires align well with the organization. When there is no doubt about the job requirements, it can also help expedite the hiring process because both sides are on the same page.
In addition, a keen focus on the corporate culture to help identify areas for improvement will make a big difference in employee morale, productivity, trust and loyalty. In some cases, more team-building activities or lunch and learn sessions can be planned to promote cohesiveness and camaraderie. In an effort to support employees’ safety and mental health, access to an employee assistance program (EAP) and/or the implementation of an employee wellness program can be a wise use of company funds in the new year.
When employers are transparent, address employee needs and nurture a great culture, they can become employers of choice, especially during extraordinary times when workers are extremely selective about their working arrangements.
Implement a Corporate Social Responsibility Program
The implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs is gaining traction at more and more companies throughout the country. This is a critical area that business leaders should strongly consider 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.
The younger demographics in the workplace and within client bases have strong beliefs about companies with CSR programs. They want to be associated with companies that are making a difference in the community, so it behooves leaders to incorporate or expand their CSR initiatives.
Volunteerism, corporate donation programs and conservation efforts are standard ways to demonstrate CSR. However, 2020 and 2021 gave rise to important societal issues, so there are great opportunities for companies to address diversity, equity and inclusion with corporate statements and action plans; compile detailed disaster preparedness and response plans; and support employee wellness through greater attention to physical workspaces.
Whether it is offering paid time for volunteering at corporate-sponsored events and/or other nonprofit activities or keying in on employee wellness and societal issues, the steps companies take toward implementing or expanding CSR programs not only makes employees feel good, but it also gives back to the community, increases brand awareness and has a direct impact on the bottom line.
Offer Upskilling Opportunities
Business leaders should take inventory of the upskilling opportunities offered to employees, not only from a succession planning perspective, but also from an employee attraction and retention angle. 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 an increasing number of workers experience burnout and reevaluate 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 very expensive for businesses.
Businesses should budget for more in-person and online training programs to afford these opportunities to new and existing employees; implement a skill set library of courses for self-directed learning; create a mentoring program; and encourage conference attendance for networking and learning from industry-related peers. In addition, it is paramount to have a comprehensive performance review program in place. This is an excellent tool for supervisors and employees to use for charting improvement plans; identifying supplemental training needs; and defining goals for career advancement.
Companies that offer upskilling and retraining opportunities for employees will have more engaged workers who demonstrate discretionary efforts to help the business succeed.
The business world quickly realized how important technology is to ongoing operations after witnessing the Zoom boom. The 2022 business plan should include any technology upgrades or new installations necessary to remain current and competitive.
With more remote and hybrid employees in the workplace, 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. Providing the right tools allows for more personal interactions and strategic discussions, while enhancing the overall employee experience.
In addition, with new technology comes training, which 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.
As people and their needs increasingly come to the forefront, business leaders should reflect forward by remembering the monumental steps that moved companies ahead and identifying ways to build upon those practices and programs in 2022. When business leaders start with a people strategy, implement a CSR program, and offer the necessary upskilling and technology for employees to perform at high levels, the company will be well positioned to attract and retain top performers, leading to ongoing success.
Don Alix is a district manager for Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit www.insperity.com.