Top 5 HR Trends and Priorities for 2022

Emerging HR trends, expected challenges and next steps for CHROs and HR leaders

Gartner surveyed more than 500 human resources leaders across 60 countries and all major industries to identify HR trends and assess HR priorities and expected challenges for 2022.

Building critical skills and competencies tops the list of priorities for the fourth straight year, but many HR leaders will also prioritize change management, leadership, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Download the full report to benchmark your priorities against peers across human resources. You’ll discover:

  • The top 5 initiatives that chief human resource officers and HR professionals are prioritizing in 2022, and how the priorities differ between subfunction leaders 
  • Key HR trends, themes and challenges driving those priorities 
  • Recommended actions for each imperative 

Webinar: The Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2022

This complimentary webinar shares the biggest challenges and top priorities for HR leaders in 2022, and reveals the latest insights, best practices and recommended actions for HR leaders as the next year unfolds.

What will HR leaders focus on in 2022?

  1. Building critical skills and competencies 
  2. Organizational design and change management
  3. Current and future leadership bench
  4. Future of work
  5. DEI

These priorities for the human resources function are key to enabling success for the business as a whole. Most HR leaders say that improving operational excellence will be critical in 2022, and far more than in prior years report that executing business transformation will be a major focus.


For every HR professional, that transformation will focus heavily on creating a truly hybrid environment — deploying a workforce model in which employees split their time between on-site and remote work and have more flexibility in where and when they do their jobs.


What are the key HR trends for 2022?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the way we work — and prompted a slew of HR trends to which the entire human resources function must respond in a coordinated way. 

The top HR priorities for 2022 reflect an urgent response to these HR trends, which are forcing organizations to change their workforce and workplace strategies. This, in turn, means HR leaders are having to evolve the way they identify, attract and retain critical skills and redesign work to enhance the employee value proposition (EVP) and drive business performance.

This moment presents a unique opportunity for HR leaders to shape the future of work in ways not previously considered a possible win-win for both employees and employers. A few HR trends, in particular, create challenges and opportunities for all HR professionals in 2022.

HR Trend No. 1: Hybrid work is driving business transformation

A vast majority of HR leaders (95%) expect that at least some of their employees will work remotely after the pandemic. This shift to hybrid work will be a massive driver of transformation and one HR leaders must be prepared to support.

HR Trend No. 2: More and new skills are needed

The total number of skills required for a single job is increasing at 6.3% annually, and new skills are replacing old ones. Twenty-nine percent of the skills that were present in an average job posting in 2018 will be obsolete by 2022.

HR Trend No. 3: Workforce health is being eroded

Employee performance stayed high during the pandemic, but disruptions have already made long-term and hard-to-reverse impacts on workforce health — that is, the health of employees, the state of trust between individuals, teams and leadership, and the work environment (e.g., feelings of inclusion). Ineffective approaches to hybrid work will only exacerbate these impacts.

HR Trend No. 4: Employees want to feel understood and valued

HR leaders need to build a more human employer-employee relationship and employment deal to meet employees’ demands to be heard and valued. All HR leaders across HR subfunctions have a role to play in ensuring the EVP holistically centers employees as people.

HR Trend No. 5: Mounting pressure on diversity, equity and inclusion

Along with expectations of greater empathy and a more human work environment, there is increasing pressure to improve equity and inclusion within organizations. In particular, there is mounting pressure from all of HR’s stakeholders — internally and externally — to make real progress on diversifying leadership.

What are the key actions for CHROs in 2022?

While the Gartner survey of HR leaders highlights the initiatives to which the HR team will need to devote themselves, CHROs and other subfunction leaders must focus their own time and attention to be personally effective and lead their HR teams to success. 


Given the top HR priorities for 2022, the focus for CHROs will be to:

  • Prepare to take on greater accountability for driving innovation and executing business transformation in a hybrid work model.

  • Support the development of a hybrid work model by using human-centric design to offer flexible experiences, enable intentional collaboration and drive empathy-based management.

  • Use a more dynamic approach to manage shifting skills needs.

  • Foster long-term workforce resilience by reassessing workforce support offerings to drive workforce health, not just performance.

  • Accelerate progress on DEI goals by establishing consequential accountability for DEI in your organizations’ leaders.

  • Elevate your personal and board impact by targeting CHRO-driven differentiators of board success.

  • Organize the HR function to achieve its goals of agility, customer centricity and operational efficiency.

FAQs related to the top 5 HR trends and priorities for 2022

This annual report is derived from the Gartner HR Priorities Survey, which polls CHROs and HR leaders on common challenges and asks them to rank their top priorities for the year ahead. This report is designed to offer HR leadership teams a better understanding of emerging HR trends and insight into what their peers are focusing on in the year ahead to help drive strategy for the HR function.

This year, Gartner received responses from HR leaders across 60 countries and all major industries. Thirty-nine percent of participants were CHROs or heads of HR.

  • Hybrid work is driving business transformation.

  • Rising turnover is increasing competition for talent.

  • Pressure is mounting to make progress on DEI.