Holding D&I and wellbeing to account in 2022: the year buzzwords become actionable initiatives for SMEs

Holding D&I and wellbeing to account in 2022: the year buzzwords become actionable initiatives for SMEs

Top four predictions for HR in 2022 that will see words such as ‘equity’, ‘remote’ and ‘hybrid’ become tangible outcomes for SMEs.

Not another predictions round-up, I hear you cry. But what if I was to say that ‘ despite entering the third year of the pandemic ‘ every business holds two key elements for success in 2022?

That’s right: people and data. The peanut butter and jam of the business world ‘ a combination that was meant to be, but is too often overlooked.

This coming year will be about consolidating, defining and cultivating the new ways of working developed in lockdown. But to do so relies on offering better support to employees on an individual basis, not just a collective one.  

To make this a reality, in this article I’ll outline my top four DE&I and workplace wellbeing predictions for 2022 to help SMEs make the most meaningful changes to their employees and drive success by retaining and attracting talent. 

Mental health support for all

The pandemic has stress-tested people and processes ‘ from burn-out to working hours. It’s clear that one-size does not fit all, and organisations must strive to design inclusive and equitable initiatives.

What’s right for one business might not work for another, and employees are the same. 2022 will be about building new ways to support everyone; not just the select few.

To do this, organisations must first look to understand how people are impacted by mental health differently before implementing tools to support employees. 

That might be an alternative to mental first health aiders in the form of an app or video series providing mental health tips. Or by creating space for open conversations led by colleagues to share their personal experiences. Either way, make this year an opportunity to curate an open mental health culture and mental health support that works for all.

Presenteeism does not equate to value & policies must reflect it

On paper, hybrid working has the potential to open the door for businesses to a wider talent pool. But, as many organisations still grapple with the realities of hybrid work, it’s crucial for organisations to stay alert to any barriers to career progression. 

The shift to our ways of working carries the risk that it will divide employees between those who spend time in the office and those who don’t. Businesses must proactively take steps to prevent a two-tier workforce ‘ with the implementation of flexible policies that can be tailored to each individual employee.

Whether that’s flexible hours for parents and carers or introducing a different type of flexible working policy for employees that can’t do their jobs from home, the pandemic has taught us that presenteeism does not equate to capability or value. And this must be reflected by company policies to create an inclusive, hybrid working experience for all employees in 2022. 

Reframing the ‘Great Resignation’

Just like the one you may have experienced on New Years Day, the threat of the Great Resignation is a hangover from 2021 for many businesses. When in fact, it’s actually an opportunity to ensure that DE&I and wellbeing are a top priority this year.

The Great Resignation highlights a wider issue that will be unique to each company. And its existence is an opportunity to identify where a company’s culture has room for improvement. From creating safer environments to providing opportunities for people to share their individual experiences ‘ action is critical when it comes to recognising inequality and ensuring employees are supported as individuals. 

Making a conscious effort to nurture culture and listen to employees will not only help offset the resignation trend, but companies will find themselves with a wider pool of talent available to grow the business.

Data must underpin change in 2022

In 2022, informed business decisions are the result of effective data analysis. And an organisation’s approach to its people is no different. People analytics will be key to DE&I strategies in 2022, with the insight enabling businesses to model and gauge employee experience from the get-go. 

This year, adopting data strategies to drive decisions is critical, especially as we continue to face dynamic and evolving working conditions. For SMEs, the likes of employee insight, engagement survey results and people data to track wellbeing will empower critical decisions ‘ keeping engagement high and employees satisfied.

A great example is the voluntarily publication of ethnicity pay gap data. At Fujitsu, we use our ethnicity pay gap data ‘ which we published voluntarily in 2021 ‘ to inform the actions we need to take to ensure all ethnicities can thrive. It demonstrates how organisations are willing to hold themselves accountable to the inequalities that exist in their business.  

With this data, businesses can then inform decisions and actions that must be taken to ensure all ethnicities can thrive. Data on diversity will underpin meaningful change for not only employees in 2022, but society.

The year that buzzwords become tangible outcomes

The pandemic has changed our working lives forever, and the ultimate fallout from the pandemic remains to be seen. But this period of difficulty is an opportunity to change how businesses approach diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.

This is the year that words such as ‘equity’, ‘remote’ and ‘hybrid’ become more than just buzz words for organisations of all sizes. Using data and insight from employees to power decisions, SMEs can create a culture that nurtures employees ‘ with the bonus of retaining and attracting diverse talent for the business to thrive.

Kelly Metcalf
Kelly Metcalf

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