Key HR Themes for 2022: Communication, Benefits, and Flexibility

The Great Resignation marked 2021, and employee attrition is expected to continue this year. To retain current staff and attract strong job candidates, association HR teams must embrace flexibility and the right benefits and communicate the value their organization offers.

With 2021 now in the rearview mirror, many associations are looking ahead to what to expect in the workplace this year. The Omicron variant is still upon us, as are the conditions that led to last year’s “Great Resignation.” Patricia Trudeau, vice president and chief administrative officer at the Association of Corporate Counsel, said concerns over retaining and hiring staff will continue to be prominent this year for HR departments, which means it will be very important for associations to communicate their value proposition to current and potential staff.

“I’ve talked to a lot of other HR professionals that can’t fill the more niche positions because they just can’t keep candidates in the pipeline, or the candidate accepts and then backs out at the last minute because they’ve gotten a better offer somewhere else,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said the hardest positions to fill and keep employees in are those unique to associations. “You’re not going to see certain roles in other industries,” she said. “We’re trying to fill the same roles that other associations are trying to fill and there aren’t enough people to fill the positions. So, you’re constantly trying to identify what can the organization offer or do differently that is going to make us the employer of choice?”

Associations are looking at salary, benefits, and flexibility to stay competitive. “Many are tweaking benefits, offering signing bonuses,” Trudeau said. “They are making sure to offer enticing benefits and being as flexible as possible.”


With talent retention and hiring being a big priority for organizations, Trudeau said it’s important to communicate better internally and externally.

“Doing a better job of communicating is a big challenge,” she said. “The communication of what we’re doing may not be as transparent as we think it is or as we’d like it to be.”

To improve communication, Trudeau had a couple of pieces of advice. First, communicate often and don’t worry about overcommunicating. Second, communicate about your organization’s strengths. “Make a good effort this year to ensure that staff are aware of all of the benefits that are available and the different options that you have from a flexible standpoint,” she said.

For prospective employees, ensure your external communication is clear.

“Make sure you’re updating your website so candidates are seeing employee information in a way that will be appealing to them,” Trudeaus said. “For lots of us, that means taking the time to update that careers page, which maybe we haven’t done in quite some time.”

Remote and Hybrid Work

With COVID-19 and general desires for flexibility, remote and hybrid work environments will do well, with most organizations opting for hybrid.

“Are there associations that are staying 100 percent remote due to the cost savings? Yes, definitely,” she said. “But I would say most of them are doing some form of hybrid, because leadership is saying that we need to get together from a cultural standpoint.”

Even with the Omicron variant being more present, Trudeau expects association staffers to start spending some time in office. “If organizations haven’t already gone back, I think we’ll start to see more that will definitely do that,” she said. “Ultimately, I think that people are trying to get back to some sense of what their organization will see as the new normal going forward.”

Vaccine Policies

One issue that will be important for associations to keep an eye on is vaccination policies. The federal government implemented a vaccine mandate for organizations with more than 100 employees. Some states have pushed back against this, suing over the mandate.

“As an organization, how is it going to impact us with employees in different states and each state treating the mandate differently?” Trudeau said. “A lot of states are taking it to court, so it will be something important for us to keep an eye on. As employers we will need to understand how to implement our organization’s policy and how applicable it will be in that particular state.”

While these highlight the primary concerns for HR departments in 2022, whatever comes this year, it will be important for associations to stay positive about their strengths.

“It all goes back to the employee value proposition,” Trudeau said. “What are they able to offer to their staff, potential candidates, or anybody looking to make a move?”

(phototechno/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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