In January 2020, we didn’t realize what was coming.
In January 2021, we were cautiously optimistic about a return to “normal”.
In January 2022, we are exhausted, but continue to pursue a “new normal”.
It would be naïve to write a post about a new year and “new” issues, as we enter 2022 facing many of the same pandemic-related challenges as in the previous two years. The most recent wave of Covid-19 cases have impacted almost every workplace, and questions around vaccine policies, labour shortages, and rapidly changing restrictions, including shutdowns, continue to plague us (pun intended).
While we will continue providing advice and support on the above issues, we wanted to start the year off by identifying three encouraging trends that we expect to see continue in the workplace in 2022.
1. Remote Work & Flexible Work Arrangements
In 2022, we expect most employers will need to make a decision about whether to allow remote work arrangements to be a permanent option for their employees, and what that will look like.
Employees are increasingly expecting remote work or hybrid arrangements to be available, even after it is no longer necessary or recommended from a public health standpoint. Additionally, employees are looking for increased flexibility.
Employers should be giving careful thought to what they want their workplace to look like, and implement clear written policies to reflect that. (For some considerations, see our previous articles):
2. An Employee’s Market
Employee attraction and retention will continue to be challenges in 2022.
Companies that used to leverage remote work and flexible work options as a retention and recruitment strategy may need to look at additional measures, as those options are increasingly becoming the norm (even in traditionally lagging sectors, like law).
There are a plethora of articles that attempt to capture what employees are now looking for from their employer (meaningful work, connection, authenticity, actual work-life balance, and so on), but employers should not lose sight of the fact that work still needs to pay a fair and competitive wage.
Employers should engage in discussions with their own key employees to find out what they are looking for in their workplace, and be proactive about understanding and meeting reasonable employee expectations.
3. Employee-Favourable Legislation
2021 saw some notable changes to legislation, including Ontario banning non-competition provisions in most employment agreements, British Columbia introducing paid sick days in its employment standards legislation, and Ontario introducing the requirement for employers to put “right to disconnect” policies in place.
For the most part, these changes were “firsts” in Canada, but we expect similar legislation to be implemented in other provinces through the coming years.
Employers should not only be checking to ensure their policies and employment contracts remain in compliance, but also consider proactively updating their practices to align with recent changes, even if not yet in effect in their province.
Be in touch to let us help with your remote work arrangements or plans!