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Corporate Talent & Inclusion

Welcome to 2022 and People Strategy 3.0

Natalie Runyon  Director / ESG content & Advisory Services / Thomson Reuters Institute

Natalie Runyon  Director / ESG content & Advisory Services / Thomson Reuters Institute

With all the changes happening in today's working environment, from multi-generations workforces to hybrid workplaces, organizations need to evaluate their people strategies going forward

The future of work is changing quickly, and guess what? That future is here now. In 2021, we saw the future of work play out as one of a hybrid structure that is holistic and serves as the foundation of organizational strategy and culture.

Now, it has started to accelerate to People Strategy 3.0 in which your organization’s business strategy is your talent strategy. In 2022, understanding this concept and how it will impact your organization’s future will crystallize. Indeed, expect to hear more about these future big ideas and predictions:

      • Your first-line managers’ ability to garner the trust of those they lead is paramount. Further, their ability to manage people with unique identities and performance capabilities, and then customize interactions to each person’s uniqueness are essential as such action fuels the feeling that each individual belongs in the organization. These will become the roots of your culture and business strategy because they influence enormously the day-to-day experiences and culture of your employees, particularly in hybrid work environments.
      • Trust will become the foundation of your employee experience and performance — and therefore crucial to your business strategy. This will necessitate integrating your diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) and well-being activities holistically into your people strategy.
      • Your culture is delivered in the daily interplay among your people’s team and their manager. In essence, community and conversation will transport your culture back and forth.

More specifically, we can dive into these phenomena further.

1. Diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging 3.0 evolves

The next transformation of DEI will also include belonging in people strategy 3.0. With four generations in the workforce, including Gen Z employees as the most diverse work force in US history, each person’s uniqueness with his/her/their full scope of identities will shape belonging and how it is executed. Moreover, employee resource groups (ERGs) will be the center for upskilling individuals and leadership as well as promoting career development of diverse talent.

“DEI will move away from educational training (which has lacked impact) and focus on connecting people through their everyday lived experiences,” says Liz Gulliver, co-founder of Kunik which works with organizations to prepare for the next wave of DEI.

In addition, organizations’ approach to one-size-fits-all identity will break down even further, according to Caroline Fairchild, Editor-at-large for LinkedIn News. The killing of George Floyd in 2020 and the follow-on social movement for racial justice forced corporate executives to more fully acknowledge that racial bias remains, both inside and outside of their organizations. In 2022, they are expected to do something about it.

For example, representation at executive leadership levels of Black, Latina and Asian women is abysmal, and has been for a long time; and initiatives, such as ERGs’ individual focuses on women, Black employees, Latino colleagues, and Asian Pacific American staff, clearly are not working to address these leadership gaps. As a result, more leaders are taking an intersectional approach to many different dimensions of an employee’s identity, and lateral recruitment of women of color will remain a core part of corporate talent strategies. However, without welcoming cultures and environments that allow these diverse employees to thrive, efforts to recruit women of color will be wasted without equal — if not more — investments in inclusion and belonging.

DEIB 3.0 will also monumentally impact hiring. The start of the end of “diverse recruitment,” is beginning, and it will simply become recruitment in 2022. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2022 Big Ideas newsletter suggest that in 2022, “the bar will be raised, and companies’ actions will be judged based on how they approach racial and gender equity in combination, not as siloed efforts.”

2. Managers will determine the outcome of hybrid work

In 2022, you will see more companies realizing that they need to significantly invest more resources in manager development, especially with many staff members working in a hybrid situation. Managers play an outsized and influential role in employees’ trust; and therefore, retention, sense of belonging, engagement in their work, and career development are influenced as well. However, leading a hybrid or remote team is a foreign concept to most managers. “Employers who fast track managerial training to meet the demands of a hybrid world will excel,” Kunik’s Gulliver predicts.

It is the day-to-day behaviors of managers that allow employees to experience the organization’s culture first-hand, play the biggest factor in retention, and contribute the most to a positive employee experience. As a result, we will see manager development and effectiveness — especially around promoting inclusion, belonging, and culture — emerge as a core focus in 2022.

3. Culture = Community + conversation

Jordan Furlong, legal sector analyst and principal with Law21, is deeply invested in a better future for the legal profession and the society it serves, wrote recently that culture is a “daily manifestation” of an organization’s “explicit performance expectations and its implicit behavioral norms — what is rewarded, what is tolerated, what is overlooked, and what is punished.” Culture is delivered through employees’ day-to-day interactions, he writes, mostly with their peers and manager, through one-on-one conversations about work projects and is experienced through community in group settings about team activities.

To make the most out of culture in a hybrid working environment, putting “work aside and mak[ing] time to connect and build relationships with — and among — your people” is a necessity, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article. According to the authors’ research, social connection has a significant positive impact on productivity, especially during the recent (and still ongoing) global Covid-19 pandemic.

As Gulliver notes: “There is an increasing need for ‘intentional’ conversations to build the bonds that come about from casual moments, especially as teams hire remote/hybrid employees.”

Simply stated, in 2022 and beyond, people strategy will be equated with business strategy, and center more on trust, well-being, and DEIB as core tenets of how your organization executes its strategy and develops and promotes its culture.

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