What are the biggest trends in the job market in 2022?

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The job market has been through a huge amount of upheaval over the last two years thanks largely to the pandemic, and the situation isn’t likely to calm down in 2022.

Since the job market is so volatile, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the substantial changes and trends. That’s not just true if you’re a recruiter or employer, either; if you’re a jobseeker, then staying on top of things is your best chance and landing the best position.

We’ve rounded up nine of the top trends that you should expect to see in 2022 and explained why they’re going to be such a big deal. Read through this, and you’ll have all the information you need to get the most out of your working life in 2022.

And if you need more information about the jobs market, here’s our round-up of the ten best ways to recruit talent for your business, and head here to see our verdict on the best US job sites.

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Remote working makes itself at home

The global pandemic saw tens of millions of people subjected to enforced lockdowns, which meant that many people had to adapt to working at home – and lots of people found that they liked it. A survey conducted by FlexJobs found that 58% of people wanted to work at home permanently after the pandemic, and that 39% wanted a hybrid environment. Studies have also found that remote workers are more productive than in-office staff, and that remote working opportunities mean that companies can hire from a more diverse pool of talent.

People’s preference for home and remote working isn’t going to go away, especially as COVID-19 variants emerge and prolong lockdowns in various countries. Indeed, it’s less of a trend and more of a permanent change.

Candidates will expect home and hybrid working options as standard when they apply for positions, while companies will have to offer flexible and home working options if they want to attract and keep the best talent. Some people will prefer the office, some people will want to work at home, and others will need a mix of both – and the best companies will cater to this need.

More diverse kinds of work

Remote work won’t just be on the rise in 2022 – different kinds of work will continue to be a key trend in the job market.

We’re seeing more positions for contract work, project work, and one-off commissions, and more people are finding that self-employment is a better option for them than conventional employment. The gig economy is a big deal now, too, and that’s not set to change either.

These diverse kinds of working will continue to grow in 2022, and that means companies will have to adapt to a far more varied kind of jobs market. More people want more flexibility these days, and traditional salaried and hourly positions just aren’t cutting it anymore.

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Candidates who know their worth

The job market in 2021 saw more open positions than there were candidates, which means that job applicants were in a position of power. In 2022, expect to see more job listings as companies try to expand and build back from the pandemic – but still assume that candidates hold all of the cards

More job applicants now realize their worth in the job market, and that trend will continue in 2022 –look at the Great Resignation if you need evidence that people are less willing than ever to put up with poor working conditions.

When combined with increases in living costs, we expect to see candidates demand higher pay levels than they may have done in the past. And, to attract the best staff, companies will have to offer more cash.

Employees expecting better benefits

In 2022, don’t just expect to see companies offering better pay, either. Assume that they’ll provide a broader range of benefits, too, and realize that your company will have to keep up to compete.

Staff in 2022 and beyond will expect more extensive medical coverage, including improved mental health support, and employees will also demand an improved approach to parental leave and remote-working flexibility.

Potential employees are looking out for themselves more than ever in 2022, which means a better benefits package alongside improved pay will become the norm. Companies that want to hire the best staff will respond to this trend.


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Diversity and inclusion with measurable improvements

The last few years have seen huge growth in awareness around social justice issues, and any company that wants to succeed with customers and staff in 2022 will place a more significant emphasis than ever on its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

There’s no doubt that this is the right thing to do, from a moral and factual standpoint. It makes sense from a business perspective, too: a younger and more aware workforce now emphasizes these initiatives when searching for jobs. An equitable and inclusive workplace will attract and retain a happier and more diverse workforce, and that’s a win in every aspect of the business.

It’s not enough for companies to just pay lip service to diversity and inclusion initiatives – that sort of attitude belongs in the past. In 2022 and beyond, businesses need to deliver on big promises, because candidates will be looking for actions rather than words.

Automation and AI

The ever-increasing influence of technology, big moves to remote working, and added pressure on smaller workforces mean that more companies will look towards automation in 2022. And, to meet that need, firms will turn towards organizations that provide automated services.

There’s already plenty of evidence of this in human resources. Loads of third-party software packages are available that can automate many of the processes involved in staff recruitment and management. In 2022, expect more processes beyond HR to become automated, so jobs become quicker and easier.

Artificial intelligence will go hand-in-hand with increased automation because AI and machine learning can be used to improve accuracy and results in those automated tasks.


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A great environmental focus

People won’t just be thinking more about social justice issues 2022 and beyond – they’ll be even more concerned with environmental issues, too, thanks to the rising specter of climate change.

Companies will have to respond to this if they want to keep customers, attract staff, and remain successful. Most people will prefer to support businesses that take their environmental responsibilities seriously.

This doesn’t just mean that companies need to pay lip service to environmental issues. Firms will have to deliver concrete action and measurable, accountable progress in this regard in 2022 and beyond, because staff and customers will expect nothing less.

Brand building

Companies that want to attract and retain staff in 2022 need to offer good pay, extensive benefits, clear diversity initiatives, and positive environmental impacts, but that’s not all.

Candidates now look for companies that match their morals and values, so it’s essential for businesses to emphasize their mission and culture in job adverts.

A key trend in 2022 will be a bigger concentration on company culture in job adverts and beyond. After all, it’s a candidate’s market, and more staff members want a place to work that’s satisfying and reflective of their values.

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The four-day work week

The increasing popularity of remote work and better awareness of wellness issues means that there's a growing trend towards shorter work weeks and more flexibility when it comes to work hours and locations.

Indeed, the four-day work week is becoming increasingly popular. And, while plenty of people love the idea of having a three-day weekend as part of their routine, trials and studies do show that moving to a four-day week can often prove beneficial for both staff and companies.

Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day work week back in 2019 and found that it led to a 40% boost in productivity and 23% less electricity consumption. Studies in New Zealand and Iceland found that staff were both happier and more productive with a four-day week. A study in the UK found that 63% of companies were more successful at attracting and keeping staff with a four-day work week.

The trend is already making its way to the real world – Kickstarter, Unilever and Shake Shack are already testing the idea. It's being trialed in Belgium, Scotland, and Spain.

There's no doubt that a four-day working week will not work for every person and it's just not possible in some industries and businesses. But it's certainly a beneficial option for lots of industries, and there's no doubt that it'll become a bigger deal throughout 2022.

Wellness will become a concrete metric 

We’ve already spoken about employees expecting better benefits and improved mental health support in the workplace in 2022, and that huge trend will dovetail with the need for companies to measure the impact of these varied additions to their staffing packages.

In 2022 and beyond, then, expect to see businesses deploying innovative new metrics to measure their employees’ mental health, physical health and job satisfaction. Companies will need these numbers to measure how these new benefits and wellness additions are working in the workplace. They’ll need to show shareholders and board members whether these changes have a positive impact.

Managers and analysts will rely on statistics to determine how many people are using the benefits on offer, and staffing surveys and feedback sessions will discover if employees are reporting increased levels of happiness and satisfaction. Companies will more closely monitor productivity levels, financial success, the number of sick days taken and fluctuation rates to build a more complete picture of how these new politics are working.

If enough of those figures move in the right direction, it’ll prove to companies that it’s worth investing in better benefits and looking after staff wellness.

Returning to the Office 

While it’s true that remote working and hybrid working environments will be far more popular in 2022, we also expect to see some pushback against this new way of working.

Expect to find that lots of more traditional managers are uncomfortable with so many of their staff spending so much time at home, chiefly because they don’t trust their staff to get the job done. That sort of situation will lead to management trying to impose office mandates, which will lead to resentment and unhappiness.

We anticipate that companies will use hybrid and remote working as an excuse for poor financial results, and that they’ll try to take action by forcing people back to their desks. Similarly, high-level managers will be afraid of losing their company culture, and they’ll try to get people back into the office as a result.

None of these are particularly good reasons to abandon remote and hybrid working: studies show that people are happier and more productive when given flexibility, and there are more likely reasons for poor financial performance. Lots of older managers and staff will view these new ways of working with suspicion, though, so they’ll definitely be a noticeable pushback against this movement. It’s not a good trend, but it’s going to be a trend nonetheless.  

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.