Hiring essential workers in 2022: what you need to know

The COVID-19 pandemic and the following economic recovery has brought a number of challenges for companies looking to hire essential workers. Industries such as retail, logistics, customer service and manufacturing have seen significant changes in the last 18 months, and this is set to continue into 2022. In response to this, HR leaders need to reconsider their workforce management, performance and experience strategies to ensure employee satisfaction.

Although this is a challenge many companies will face, your business will come out on top with good preparation. Here are some of the trends that we think will have the most influence upon hiring essential workers in 2022, and what your company can do to be ready for them.


Higher turnover and a more selective workforce

We’ve talked about The Great Resignation before, but if you still don’t know what it is, you need to brush up your knowledge before starting your search for a new employee. According to HR software company Personio, around 38% of workers in the UK and Ireland are planning to quit their jobs within the next year. The impact of the pandemic means that workers are now looking for jobs that better suit their personal and professional ambitions, which means they are becoming more selective in their job search. For more insight into what job seekers are looking for, check out our blog on 5 things your company should include in your job adverts here.

The Great Resignation has had an impact on many industries, but those with key workers have been hit especially hard. According to BBC News, a combination of the effect of both the pandemic and Brexit has driven 1 in 5 hospitality workers to leave the sector. The situation is equally worrying in healthcare; a survey from the British Medical Association has found that 32% of respondents are planning to take an early retirement, and a further 21% are planning on leaving the NHS altogether. Workers in these industries have cited burnout, feeling overworked, poor work-life balance and the desire for a higher salary as reasons for leaving their jobs.

The best way to prevent an employee’s departure is to plan ahead before you’ve even hired them. A healthy work culture is key to ensuring employee happiness, and you can help facilitate this in several ways. For example, offering flexible leave arrangements can allow employees to take time off at short notice in the event of illness or personal emergencies. Regular communication will help build trust and rapport between employees and management. Making sure that employees are fairly compensated for their work, both in terms of salary and benefits, will also encourage them to stay with your company. Employees want to feel wanted and valued, so putting the human element first in your recruitment efforts is essential.

Remote work is here to stay

Don’t pack away your home office set-up any time soon. Research from the Office for National Statistics earlier this year has found that around 37% of the UK workforce started working from home last year in response to national lockdowns, and that of this number, 85% want a ‘hybrid’ schedule of both home and office working. Therefore, it’s understandable why industries that rely on in-person work such as construction and retail are struggling to recruit. 

Remote work will remain a key desire of the UK workforce in 2022. Therefore, to attract essential workers to your company, you should try to incorporate this as much as possible. For example, if the job allows for it, consider if onboarding and training can be done remotely. As many businesses shift towards remote work options on a permanent basis, you will need to evaluate what your staff need to be able to work and collaborate digitally. Additionally, you may need to consider how employee evaluations and performance measuring might be applied in a remote context, and if any adjustments need to be made. 

Making health and wellbeing a priority

The pandemic has caused many employers to take pause and consider its impact on their employees’ health and wellbeing. Those that have forced their employees to work in high-risk conditions with minimal support have received criticism, whereas those that have prioritised employee wellbeing over productivity have been praised. This response shouldn’t come as a surprise given what recent research has found. For example, a survey carried out by MetLife has found that 61% of workers believe in the importance of a good work-life balance, and 63% consider self-care, health and wellbeing an essential priority. Therefore, demonstrating a commitment to employee wellbeing will be crucial when recruiting essential workers.

As many essential workers are in public-facing roles, the risk of catching coronavirus is significantly greater than in other professions. Outside of the pandemic, essential employees may also have to face aggressive customers, long hours of physical labour, unsociable behaviour, and various other factors that may pose a threat to their physical or mental wellbeing. Job seekers may be dissuaded from this work due to these reasons, so as an employer you should ensure that the correct procedures are in place to best protect your staff. Not only is this for legal reasons, but you will be more likely to both attract and keep staff if they feel valued and respected.


Increased use of technology


Using technology in your hiring process can have a number of advantages. You can build your company brand by cultivating an online presence on social media, and by using tools such as chatbots in the early stages of the recruitment process. Anil Dharni, CEO of automated communication platform Sense, says that ‘with chatbots, recruiters can better qualify candidates prior to any human interaction […] this is the wave of the future and speaks to the consumerization of how people seek jobs […] they want their information to be current and accurate, they want their preferences remembered and to be connected to positions they see as a good fit.’

Using tech can help streamline the application process for both candidates and recruiters. One example of this was seen back in 2019, when McDonald’s Canada launched a one-day virtual hiring event called ‘Snapplications’ which allowed job seekers to apply for jobs at McDonald’s using a Snapchat filter. In essential industries, where staff shortages can quickly become problematic and cause service delays, this might be one solution to quickly filling open positions. 

Final thoughts

We hope this article has given you an insight into what some of the trends in hiring essential workers might be in the next year. Although we are currently in a jobseeker’s market, by following this advice you are sure to attract top candidates to your company, and retain your talented workforce for years to come. 


Need help with hiring essential workers? Our search services can help your company fill any vacancy, with our exclusive ATS technology and dedicated resourcing team on hand to find you top talent for less. Call us on 020 3982 7600 to speak with a member of our team today, or visit our website here to find out more about how TalentSpa can help you achieve your hiring goals.

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