Work changed in 2022. What will stay?

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FILE – Stratton Georgoulis, student researcher and strike captain, stands with hundreds of University of California graduate workers and supporters as they carry on a strike to decry the university’s treatment toward students and employees in Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 5, 2022. A month into the nation’s largest strike involving higher education, the work stoppage by the university’s academic workers at 10 campuses is causing stress for many undergraduate students. (Brontë Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

(NewsNation) — There have been a lot of names for what’s happened in the job market this year: the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, quiet firing, career cushioning, labor hoarding; the list goes on and on. 

In many ways, 2022 has felt like the culmination of employment trends shifted by a pandemic — and the residual whiplash has some employers rethinking the rules of the workplace, Kathryn Minshew, editor of the career development platform The Muse, told NewsNation earlier this year.

That includes “the benefits they offer, the way they treat their people, in an effort to not only … attract younger workers but also create an environment that they’ll want to stay in,” she said. 

Here is a look at what has changed this year — and what work might look like going into 2023.

More mental health care

In the early years of the pandemic, a majority of employees said they could not talk about mental health concerns in the workplace — with 67% saying they were always or often burnt out. 

Yet as chronic stress became almost a ubiquitous symptom of workers, employers began to respond. 

Hospitals staffed ERs with counselors who could respond immediately during a crisis. Wisconsin changed state law so it was easier for police officers to be treated for PTSD. A New Mexico school district turned to a four-day workweek to give teachers more time off. 

“We’re seeing organizations, for the first time ever, creating a hybrid, more flexible environment for people, companies creating peer supports and employee resource groups on burnout and wellness,” Jennifer Moss, author of “The Burnout Epidemic,” told NewsNation earlier this year.

The key to creating a good wellness program, Moss said, is taking a holistic approach that relies on culture change, not “silver bullet solutions.” 

“I’ve started to see a common language that people can talk about, like making sure we have a culture of encouragement, not being afraid to say when you’re tapped out,” said Dr. Lisa Uherick, the head of well-being for emergency services at a Virginia hospital. “The beginning of this work has to start with us telling people they individually matter.”

Widening the opportunity pipeline

As job openings hit a record 11.5 million in March, many hiring managers began to look for new ways to recruit workers into skilled fields. 

Maryland removed the four-year college degree requirements from thousands of state jobs. Some nursing programs have guaranteed jobs to keep workers in rural or poorer communities, resulting in a 10% increase in enrollment.

Gig economy apps offering trade-school-like education grew in popularity. One such company, Nana Academy, trains and connects independent contractors with appliance repair jobs.

Perhaps the biggest shifts have been seen in the education field, which faced catastrophic shortages coming into the 2022-2023 school year. Among the most promising solutions include residency or certification programs, which offer free or reduced-price degrees that students earn while working.

For example, a free Tennessee residency program increased the teacher retention rate to 87% after three years. 

Experts say these alternative pipelines create more opportunities where shortages are the greatest, often poorer or rural neighborhoods and communities of color.

The legacy of COVID-19

As many as 4 million people left the workforce due to the sustained symptoms of long COVID: fatigue, brain fog, pain, shortness of breath, nausea and heart and lung damage. Many others reduced hours or changed fields entirely.

This, colliding with widespread worker shortages and union actions, led to increased negotiating power for employees — and may have long-term implications for what they have come to expect. 

More than half of workers expect remote or hybrid work to be allowed — up from 8% pre-pandemic, according to a Gallup poll from earlier this year. Expectations also include better health care coverage, asynchronous work hours and more flexibility to take breaks within the day. 

Other research has shown when employees experience work stress, they also report cognitive and physical weariness — are less likely than before the pandemic to agree to take on more work, according to a report by the recruitment website Ladders. This is perhaps an indication of workers’ caution against overwork and burnout, Forbes reports.

These changes are also all shown to help those suffering from chronic illness stay in their jobs.

“How can the HR people help?” Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum said earlier this year. “If you’re looking for employee loyalty in a day where it’s hard to find … if you are there for them, they’re going to be inclined, more likely, to stick around for you.”

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