HR Trends to Watch in 2022

HR Trends to Watch in 2022

Human Resources leaders are always being asked to look into a crystal ball and predict the future. You probably don’t have any super powers. But your Spidey sense might be telling you that a few trends that are surfacing are likely to stick around through the new year, 2022.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed your work and life. Slowly, things are improving and you’re getting your organization (not to mention yourself) used to the new normal. While you’re settling in (and still having an occasional panic attack, no judgment), you might want to pay special attention to what’s coming next.

Transformation of Human Resources

There’s no doubt that the biggest story of 2021, the Great Resignation, will spill over into 2022. When the pandemic began in 2020, HR leaders suddenly had a seat at the table. You were charged with being the light as people navigated safety protocol and transitioned to remote teams in the darkness. Your stature only continued to grow.

Then, people started quitting jobs in droves. In 2021, you figured out why this was happening. People were tired of low wages, lack of child care and healthcare, and an overall malaise about the kind of work they were doing. Some renamed the era the Great Reshuffling because people were seeking a better fit in their work and more work-life balance. In 2022, you will be determining the best ways to recruit and retain top talent. These strategies won’t be as basic they once were. It will definitely be a case of out with the old and in with the new.

Four-Day Workweek

In the wake of the pandemic, employees learned how to be ultra-productive at home. They used the extra time that remote work afforded (without a commute) to enjoy their families, pursue their hobbies, and get in a little me time. People don’t want to give that up. Employees have the leverage now, and they are asking for more flexibility in their schedules. While that’s already happening, some are talking about taking flexibility even further.

All this prompted discussions about the four-day workweek, a concept that has come up before. The debate will continue on into 2022, and some companies may adapt to this schedule to woo recruits and retain employees during what continues to be an historic labor shortage.

Mental Health and Wellness

The pandemic revealed that mental health and wellness is important to everyone. No one is immune to stress, especially during uncertain times. Businesses are recognizing this fact and providing employees with tools for relieving stress, addressing mental illnesses, and preventing burnout. Some companies are offering more flexibility, but they also provide programs. Maybe the employer offers a yoga class or meditation time. Some provide mental health days as part of paid time off (PTO). Employers are going to get more creative and pay more attention to the mental health of their employees moving forward. This will only become a bigger part of HR leadership’s responsibilities.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

At the height of the pandemic, the world watched the Black Lives Matter protests unfold before their eyes. Many demanded that businesses take a stand and show their support for the movement. By putting the spotlight on injustices related to policing, people began recognizing the lack of representation in leadership and management and even at junior levels.

While diversity had been on the minds of HR leaders for some time already, DEI strategies have risen in terms of priority. In 2022, you can expect DEI to remain at the forefront of recruiting and retention strategies.

The Possibility of More Variants

The Omicron variant swept the nation during the holiday season, and it upended plans for a return to the office for many employers. While some traditionalists are holding out for in-office-only workers and some occupations require going to a physical location to get the job done, the reality is that most companies will have to keep some level of remote work as an option because of the various COVID variants that might surface. Until the pandemic turns into an endemic, some companies will be remote only. Others will remain hybrid workplaces.

Coming up with sufficient strategies on how to collaborate, forge bonds, conduct performance measures, and attain desired results is a must. Of course, there are dreaded conversations to be had about masking up and getting vaccinated. Take a holistic approach, make sure the strategy matches your values, and consider the risks associated with whatever decisions you make.

Generational Differences

For the first time in history, four generations (Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z) are in the workforce at the same time. The differences among the generations – from pop culture references to tech savvy – pop up at the water cooler on a daily basis. The reality is that Millennials and Gen Z hold most of the power. The Boomers are retiring and Gen Xers are the smallest group and often get ignored or forgotten.

In any case, many HR experts focused on the generational differences that influence the success of organizations. The pandemic really brought out some of the profound disagreements, like whether to permit working from home in any city you choose or pushing or a return to the office. Gen Z reportedly delegates to their older superiors, while Millennials take a more middle-of-the-road and even practical approach as they gain esteem and rise to power. These generational gaps will continue into 2022, and you might notice more differences. Certainly, HR leaders are going to be working hard to unite all these groups. After all, DEI efforts should include age variations, too.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Originally posted on HR Exchange Network

How to Make (and Keep!) a New Year’s Resolution

How to Make (and Keep!) a New Year’s Resolution

Ever wonder why the resolutions you make in January don’t stick around after March? You aren’t alone! Studies show that only 8% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. Why? And how do people achieve their goals set at New Year’s? We’ve broken it down for you so you can identify your goal-breaker as well as give you some tips on how to make those resolutions stick.

There are three main reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail. The first goal-breaker is taking on too much (too big of a goal) and expecting it to happen too fast. Researchers have found that it takes 66 days to break a habit. That’s much higher than the previously published 21 days. It conversely means that it also takes 66 days to form a new habit. So, battle your goal-breaker by setting smaller, achievable goals to focus your energies on rather than spreading yourself too thin on lofty goals.

The second reason you fail to keep your resolution is you don’t have anyone supporting you. This could be because you simply didn’t tell anyone that you have new life goals. It could also be due to fear of accountability. You need some life-cheerleaders that root you on to victory. These cheerleaders also call you out when you are riding off the tracks. Their support isn’t tied to your achievement of your goals but instead their support is firmly tied to you and they want to see you succeed.

The last goal-breaker setting a goal that is too vague.  You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you are going.   A goal like “I want to try harder at work” or “I want to save more money this year” is too general a notion that does not give you something specific to work towards or a well-defined path to follow.  And if you can’t provide specific benchmarks, you can’t measure your progress.

Now, let’s steer this ship back on course with some tips on KEEPING your New Year’s resolutions.

Plan Ahead

To ensure success, plan ahead so you can have the resources available when you need them.  Then, you won’t have excuses for why you can’t follow through.  Here are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Read up on it – Get books on the subject. Whether it’s taking up running or becoming a vegetarian, there are books to help you prepare for it.
  • Plan for success – Get everything you need so things will go smoothly. If you are taking up running, make sure you have the clothes, shoes, and playlists so that you are ready to get started.
Reward Yourself Along the Way

Small rewards are great encouragement to keep you going during the hardest first days.  After that, you can try to reward yourself once a week with a lunch with a friend, a nap, or whatever makes you tick.  Later, you can change the rewards to monthly and even pick an anniversary reward!

Write Your Goals Down on Paper

Writing establishes intention but action needs to be taken to achieve your resolution.  Have a written account of your goals is a constant reminder to take action.  Mark Murphy says Writing things down doesn’t just help you remember, it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff. And your goals absolutely should qualify as truly important stuff.” 

Start When You’re Ready

When you launch your resolution on January 1st, you are making a change based on a calendar date.  What are the chances that you’re going to be ready for a life change at exactly the same time the calendar rolls over to a new year?  There’s no need to launch your resolution on January 1st or even in January.  Start working on your goal when you’re ready.  That’s not to say that you need to wait until you feel fully confident before starting (that may never happen).  Delaying your goal a few weeks or a few months is better than abandoning it altogether.

Identify Your Purpose

Knowing your “WHAT” (goal) is important but knowing your “WHY” can be just as important when it comes to following through on your intentions. Why do you want to lose weight in 2022? When you put the why to the what, you are truly focused on what matters. “I want to lose weight so that I can play with my children without getting tired and show them that hard work is worth it.”  Now, THAT’S a great goal.

Identifying goal-breakers and goal-makers are equally important pieces to achieving what you set out to accomplish, especially with regards to New Year’s resolutions. Commit to making this year the year that your resolution is going to stick!

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Mouth, Healthy You!

Healthy Teeth, Healthy Mouth, Healthy You!

Did you know that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Or that your dental health offers clues about your overall health?  Poor dental health contributes to major systemic health problems. Conversely, good dental hygiene can help improve your overall health.  As a bonus, maintaining good oral health can even REDUCE your healthcare costs!

Researchers have shown us that there is a close-knit relationship between oral health and overall wellness. With over 700 types of bacteria in your mouth, it’s no surprise that when even one of those types of bacteria enter your bloodstream that a problem can arise in your body. Oral bacteria can contribute to:

  1. Endocarditis—The infection of the inner lining of the heart can be caused by bacteria that started in your mouth.
  2. Cardiovascular Disease—Heart disease, as well as clogged arteries and even stroke, can be traced back to oral bacteria.
  3. Low birth weight—Poor oral health has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight of newborns.

Over $45 billion is lost in productivity in the United States each year because of untreated oral health problems.  These oral diseases can result in the need for costly emergency room visits, hospital stays, and medications, not to mention loss of work time. The pain and discomfort from infected teeth and gums can lead to poor productivity in the workplace, and even loss of income. Children with poor oral health are more prone to illness and may require a parent to stay home from work to care for them and take them to costly dental appointments.  In fact, over 34 million school hours are lost each year because of emergency dental care.

So, how do you prevent this nightmare of pain, disease, and increased healthcare costs? It’s simple! By following through with your routine yearly dental check-ups and daily preventative care, you will give your body a big boost in its general health. Check out these tips for a healthy mouth:

  • Maintain a regular brushing/flossing routine—Brush and floss teeth twice daily to remove food and plaque from your teeth, and in between your teeth where bacteria thrive.
  • Use the right toothbrush—When your bristles are mashed and bent, you aren’t using the best instrument for cleaning your teeth. Make sure to buy a new toothbrush every three months. If you have braces, get a toothbrush that can easily clean around the brackets on your teeth.
  • Visit your dentist—Visit your dentist for a check-up every 6 months. He/she will be able to look into that window to your body and keep your mouth clear of bacteria. Your dentist will also be able to alert you to problems they see as a possible warning sign to other health issues, like diabetes, that have a major impact on your overall health and healthcare costs.
  • Eat a healthy diet—Staying away from sugary foods and drinks will prevent cavities and tooth decay from the acids produced when bacteria in your mouth comes in contact with sugar. Starches have a similar effect. Eating healthy will reduce your out of pocket costs of fillings, having decayed teeth pulled, and will keep you from the increased health costs of diabetes, obesity-related diseases, and other chronic conditions.
  • Drink more water—Water is the best beverage for your overall health—including oral health. Drinking water after every meal can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.

A healthy oral hygiene routine will do wonders for your teeth, mouth, and smile from a dental perspective.  Oral health is also a key indicator of overall health and well-being.  That should keep the rest of your body smiling as well!

Are Your Healthcare Benefits Contributing to the Labor Shortage?

Are Your Healthcare Benefits Contributing to the Labor Shortage?

Employee benefits are a major bargaining chip for companies looking to attract talent. The problem is healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and it’s difficult for employers to offer the same level of coverage. Higher costs are either resulting in less coverage or smaller wages for employees.

Find out what’s happening with healthcare and recruitment, and get tips on what companies can do to stay competitive:

The Rising Costs of Healthcare

It’s no secret that healthcare costs have been increasing for years. According to the research, it will continue to increase. One study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that $3.8 trillion—or $11,582 per person— was spent on healthcare in 2019. By 2028, individual Americans will be spending around $18,000 on healthcare.

While the issue is complex, experts agree that the major factors in this spike include an aging population, a rise in chronic disease, and higher prices for medical services and drugs. Costs are rising so rapidly that insurers are increasing deductibles, not covering certain services, or applying caps. As a result, healthcare packages are playing a larger role when chosen candidates are deciding whether to accept a new job.

How Important Are Competitive Healthcare Packages?

As healthcare costs continue to rise, a new debate has emerged. Should employers or employees take more responsibility for covering healthcare?

One of two things are happening with workplace healthcare. Either employees are leaving their current position for a job with better healthcare coverage or their annual salary increases are being eaten up by higher healthcare premiums being passed on to employees.

A recent survey found that 42% of employees are thinking about leaving their current position because of inadequate benefits.

“The rising price of health care costs families thousands of dollars a year in foregone wages, out-of-pocket costs, and increased taxes,” said Josh Bivens, research director at the Economic Policy Institute, in an interview with MarketWatch.

He said the effect may not be apparent, but it’s one of the main reasons wages have remained stagnant. If you spot a number of paradoxes here, then you aren’t alone. Lower salaries won’t attract top talent, and passing on the costs of healthcare to current employees won’t retain them. This quandary for employers is compounded by the current labor shortage, which is often referred to as the Great Resignation.

What Can Companies Do?

It’s clear that healthcare is important to job candidates. To attract new talent, companies should revolutionize the way they treat wellness in the workplace.

Promoting health and wellness initiatives not only improves employee morale and decreases absenteeism, but a healthier workforce is less likely to use their insurance. This may eventually equate to lower premiums.

Another easy way to curb costs is by communicating with employees about what plans are available. Health insurance is often a complex topic, and some employees may accidentally choose the wrong plan because they don’t understand the difference.

Proactively highlighting available services can assist employees before a medical issue spins out of control. Mental health services are an example of this. Letting employees know about Employee Assistance Programs or low-cost telehealth options could offer help before a more serious intervention is needed.

There are many options available for companies to make their benefit packages more competitive to attract top talent. Some companies are considering Health Savings Accounts or HSAs that help employees pay medical bills while enrolled in cheaper, high deductible plans.

Direct Primary Care is another technique being used by companies to control costs. DPC allows employees to pay fixed monthly, quarterly, or annual fees to cover primary care, consultations, care coordination, and comprehensive care management. Not only does DPC result in cost-savings, but it fosters a better relationship between patient and doctor.

Leveraging Your Benefits

Even though healthcare costs continue to rise, it’s possible for companies to control costs by promoting wellness initiatives and helping employees select the best benefit package for their needs.

Being proactive with healthcare and making smart financial decisions can keep healthcare prices reasonable, and ensure that companies will be able to attract talent.

By Mckenzie Cassidy

Orginally posted on HR Exchange Network

IRS Announces 2022 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

IRS Announces 2022 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits

On November 4, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 2021-61 announcing cost-of-living adjustments affecting dollar limits for pension plans and other retirement-related items for tax year 2022. Many pension plan limits will change next year because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. Other items, however, will not increase for 2022. Here is a summary of the limits for 2022.

For 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plans:

  • The elective deferral (contribution) limit increases from $19,500 for 2021 to $20,500 for 2022.
  • The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over who participate in these plans will stay the same at $6,500 for 2022.

For individual retirement arrangements (IRAs):

  • The limit on annual contributions will not change for 2022. It remains $6,000.
  • The additional catch-up contribution limit for individuals aged 50 and over is not subject to an annual cost-of-living adjustment so it remains $1,000 for 2022.

For simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs and individual/solo 401(k) plans:

  • Elective deferrals increase to $61,000 for 2022, based on an annual compensation limit of $305,000 (up from the 2021 amounts of $58,000 and $290,000).
  • The minimum compensation that may be required for participation in a SEP remains unchanged at $650.

For savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) IRAs:

  • The contribution limit on SIMPLE IRA retirement accounts increases from $13,500 for 2021 to $14,000 for 2022.
  • The SIMPLE catch-up limit remains unchanged at $3,000 for 2022.

For defined benefit plans:

  • The basic limitation on the annual benefits under a defined benefit plan increases from $230,000 for 2021 to $245,000 for 2022.

Other items:

  • The threshold for determining “highly compensated employees” increases from $130,000 for 2021 to $135, 000 for 2022.
  • The threshold for officers who are “key employees” in a top-heavy plan increases from $185,000 for 2021 to $200,000 for 2022.
  • In a separate announcement, the Social Security Administration stated that the 2022 taxable wage base will increase to$147,000, an increase of $4,200 from the 2021 taxable wage base of $142,800. Thus, the maximum Social Security tax liability will increase for both employees and employers.

The IRS announcement is needed information for employers that sponsor 401(k) plans and other types of retirement and savings plans. For those interested in health and welfare plans, the IRS will release a separate announcement on the 2022 benefit limits for health flexible spending accounts (HFSAs) and transit benefit programs which we’ll cover separately on this blog.

By Kathleen A. Berger, CEBS

Originally posted on Mineral