How will 2022 change the world of work? (And what can we learn from 2021?)


Tammy Browning

President, KellyOCG

A few weeks into the start of 2022, we see a very different world than we experienced pre-pandemic in 2019. These changes are even starker in the world of work, from remote  working and the Great Resignation to a growing focus on purpose and flexibility, no organization can afford to be stuck in the past when it comes to their talent strategy.

We began 2021 with the pandemic continuing to shape and impact the lives of our customers and colleagues around the world, but despite huge obstacles, I am enormously proud of the achievements of our global KellyOCG team. We expanded our portfolio, welcomed new clients – including the largest oil and gas MSP – and grew gross profits by 19%.

The impact our approach had on our customers is one of my favorite success stories of 2021. Our commitment to having the right people in the right place means our clients  experienced continuously high service standards and operational excellence, whatever their program scope or business goals. I’m thrilled that KellyOCG has supported so many ambitious and world-changing businesses and set the bar high in 2021. I’m confident this approach will continue to shape our organization for years to come.

Workforce trends that defined 2021

Around the world, a significant amount of confusion and flux related to the pandemic continued to reshape markets. Some industries – like life sciences – experienced a boom in demand for talent, while others significantly scaled back hiring. Talent shortages and wage increase touched almost every industry, and companies had to reassess hiring, candidate attraction, and benefits to ensure they were an employer of choice. Social unrest also continued to make headlines and there was growing demand from candidates to work for businesses that have a strong purpose for good, as well as a visible social and environmental conscience. It was a talent-driven market and 2022 will only see this trend grow and evolve.  

What’s in store in 2022?

The talent shortages in 2021 are likely to get even more visible and challenging this year. Demand for workers is growing, but we’re simply not seeing the number of people entering or re-entering the marketplace that we would expect. I spoke to Yahoo Finance Live recently about the December jobs report, the ongoing impact of the Great Resignation, and the fact that we’re seeing application levels drop by around 15%. The hard truth is it’s not going to get any easier for businesses to connect with candidates and I expect to see more organizations looking internally at the way they grow and upskill talent. This means a greater focus on career paths that encourage not only retention but momentum through different opportunities. One of our biggest goals moving into 2022 is to help organizations  figure out how to hold on to and develop talent for the long term.

"This ongoing demand for talent means that workers have the power to shape their own path in a way the market hasn’t experienced for years."

This ongoing demand for talent means that workers have the power to shape their own path in a way the market hasn’t experienced for years. Candidates are making their voices and needs heard, and although this is a culture shock for many organizations – particularly those big brands who have historically waited for the best and brightest to knock on their door – they must now rise to the occasion. In 2022, I expect many organizations will get serious about purpose and development to attract workers who share their values and want to connect with roles that have real opportunities for growth.

Although technology that enhances efficiency and the user experience will continue to be a focus across the talent landscape this year, the need for human expertise is going to be more important than ever before. It’s vital that organizations don’t innovate people out of their recruitment approach as candidates desire increasingly personalized and consumer-level experiences. People want to find a meaningful and emotional connection to work, and  automated systems can’t offer that.

For staffing firms, we’re going to see a shift to outsourcing across the board. In this really tough talent market, businesses will increasingly look for outside support, and as an industry, we need to be ready to step up to the challenge and provide services that meet this demand.

What’s next for KellyOCG?

We have set a high bar for growth and energy at KellyOCG, which will enable us to continue to succeed. We’re focused on continuing to evolve our MSP and RPO solutions to align with the changing dynamics of talent attraction, and as an industry innovator, we’re committed to providing insights and analytics that enable our customers to navigate complex workforce challenges. On an internal level, we – like many of our clients – are focused on sustaining and empowering our talent. Our depth of experience is a huge differentiator in the market, and supporting and championing our people means we can not only give them great experiences but can also deliver better service for our clients.

It may be a very different world of work in 2022, but it’s an exciting one, and I can’t wait to see what new opportunities and insights it brings.


Ready to connect with an expert?

Keeping up with the new world of work means adopting creative business strategies, and connecting with the talent who will make a real difference in your field. Lucky for you, it’s what we specialize in.

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