HR Trends 2022: 5 Human Resources Trends to Watch Out For

Employees resting hands on a table, listening to a teammate sharing an idea.

HR Trends 2022: 5 Human Resources Trends to Watch Out For

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, work and life have significantly changed in the last few years, bringing forth new HR trends. While many anticipated that 2021 would mark the ‘return to the workplace’, we’re now two years into the pandemic and we’ve learned to expect the unexpected; many workplaces have opted to have their staff work remotely indefinitely, or at least give them the option to do so!

With more employees working from home than ever before, the employee experience has drastically transformed. Employers continue to roll out plans to address the needs of their employees in 2022. 

Here are 5 biggest HR trends that will shape the workplace in 2022:

1. The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation refers to the 33 million Americans who quit their jobs amid the pandemic due to late shift changes, tough working conditions, or low wages. The growing popularity of anti-work has made it difficult for employers to recruit talent, but has shifted the focus to refreshing and improving how companies operated before.

With that said, attracting and retaining employees will be one of the biggest HR trends of 2022. Employers are adopting digital transformation in HR, improving working conditions, increasing communication, and compensating their employees for what they deserve. 

2. Employee Well-being Benefits

Mental health and wellness have become a top priority for most employees. A new HR trend in 2022 is that businesses are becoming more aware of the importance of relieving stress and assessing employee well-being, including mental, physical, and financial health.

Some companies are offering mental health seminars, yoga sessions, or meditation breaks to ensure their employees are well. Employers will continue to pay more attention to their workers and their human needs, which will in turn, improve performance and satisfaction in the workplace.

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3. Hybrid and Remote Work

One of the biggest HR trends arising from the pandemic is more flexibility around where, how, and when people work. Since employees have made the transition to remote work, they have reported their physical and mental well-being has actually improved. Employees have enjoyed working from home so much that they would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office.

Moving forward, employers need to consider their employees’ interest in remote or hybrid work as they strive to offer better workplace experiences and understand how this can improve safety and productivity within their companies as well.

4. Four Day Workweek

The four-day workweek debate is back! Employees have learned to be extra productive while working from home by using their extra time to improve their work, spend time with family, and pursue their hobbies. Workers are asking for more flexibility, and many feel a four day workweek is adequate. Some companies may adopt this schedule to recruit talent during what continues to be a historic labor shortage, and this HR trend will continue throughout 2022. 

5. Diversity and Inclusion

Throughout the pandemic, many organizations have made heavier commitments to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. This HR transformation trend empowers employees to proudly be a part of their company. In 2022, and many more years to come, diversity and inclusion will be crucial factors for employees. Digital platforms also give employees the technology they need to tell their stories. 

Looking for a fractional HR team to help you recruit employees and build your dream company? Book a call today!

Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage


21% - Castle HR


What You Need To Know About Bill 27

What You Need To Know About Bill 27

The Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) is changing. What does that mean for business owners?

Notably, the ESA is evolving – in light of how the pandemic affected workers – to include more worker-friendly measures. We’ll go through the highlights in this article, but if you’re curious to see the full content of the proposed Bill 27, you can find it here.

Although Bill 27 has not passed into law just yet, it’s good to be prepared. Better to have a plan in your back pocket and not need it, than to find yourself scrambling after the fact.

(We’ll update this space when new details emerge. Stay tuned!)

What is the Working for Workers Act?

The Working For Workers Act is the government’s newest legislation to amend the ESA, the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”), and other laws to make them more worker-friendly. Along with the changes to the ESA, the bill introduces new penalties when fees are illegally collected from foreign workers trying to come to Canada, and provides internationally-trained professionals easier access to obtain their certification to practice in Canada. 

Yet it is the amendments to the ESA that are garnering the most attention. As Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced in his press release, “Our government is working for workers. To do so, we must act swiftly and decisively to put workers in the driver’s seat and begin rebalancing the scales.”

Can any delivery driver now use our bathroom?

The first time Bill 27 made headlines was actually for a proposed change to OHSA. During the pandemic, food delivery drivers – many of whom operated through third-party apps such as UberEats and Skip The Dishes – became the lifeblood of the restaurant industry. Despite working long shifts for several hours, those drivers were often not allowed to use the washrooms in the restaurants where they picked up food for an app customer.

The new law states that “the owner of a workplace shall ensure that access to a washroom is provided, on request, to a worker who is present at the workplace to deliver anything to the workplace, or to collect anything from the workplace for delivery elsewhere.” The only exceptions are if there is a health and safety issue, if the washroom is in or can only be accessed through a home, or if it would be unreasonable or impractical to do so.

If your workers order lunch (or snacks!) to the office, this could be relevant for you.

Are non-competition clauses now illegal?

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Bill 27 states that “no employer shall enter into an employment contract or other agreement with an employee that is, or that includes a non-compete agreement.” So essentially – yes. It goes on to add that any non-competition agreements with employees already in place are void.

While that may come as a surprise to employers, it mostly solidifies what the courts have said for years: that in recent decades, employers have held significant power in the employment relationship and that they should not prohibit former employees from being free to make a living. 

For a non-competition clause in an employment contract to be enforceable before Bill 27, it must be very limited in the geographic area and duration in which it prevents a former employee from competing. After Bill 27 (if it passes into law) a non-competition agreement will be unenforceable except in rare circumstances involving the sale of an entire business.

Without non-compete clauses, what’s to stop former employees from poaching our business?

While non-competition clauses may be out, there are still ways that employers can protect their interests after employees decide to move on. 

An employer may not be able to stop a former employee from working with the competition, but they can stop them from poaching staff, clients, or stealing confidential information. Non-solicitation clauses in an employment contract can still prevent former employees from poaching any staff, key contacts, or existing clients.

These clauses should also be written carefully though, as something too broad may not hold up in litigation. For example, ‘any clients of the business’ may be impossible to enforce, but the more specific ‘any clients known to the employee within the previous 12 months’ provides that former employee a much clearer picture of what conduct will be offside. 

Employers can also use of confidentiality clauses. These too must be carefully written to ensure that an employer retains all rights to confidential information from within their workplace, and they can also mandate that the employer owns anything that the employee created during their term of employment. When that employee leaves, they are not allowed to take any confidential information with them, including trade secrets, customer lists, etc. 

If these contract topics are important to you, speak with an employment lawyer for specific advice.

 “This law is designed to protect employees from overwork and burnout. At first glance this might seem one-sided for employees, but preventing burnout benefits businesses in a big way too.”

What is the ‘Right To Disconnect?’

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The other key feature of Bill 27 was also the biggest headline-grabber of all the proposed changes. The Bill introduces a ‘right to disconnect’ – similar to what currently exists in several European countries – where employers will be unable to communicate with employees outside of working hours. More specifically, this is defined as “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.”

So what does that mean? The law will require employers with 25 or more employees to draft a workplace policy outlining employees’ right to disconnect shortly after Bill 27 becomes law. This will mean that employers cannot expect employees to work all hours, or to be responsive when they are not on the clock.

For employees who have spent the better part of the last 2 years unexpectedly working from home, the news represents a welcome reprieve. Some employers have had high expectations of their teams, and employees have expressed a pressure to put in extra hours through the pandemic. This law is designed to protect employees from overwork and burnout. At first glance this might seem one-sided for employees, but preventing burnout benefits businesses in a big way too.

How will we implement “disconnecting” into our business?

On this point, we don’t have full details on what this right to disconnect will entail. Typically, the Ministry of Labour will put out a sample policy for HR experts to use as a guideline when designing customized policies for a workplace. We’ll be first in line when that happens!

This one is of particular interest to us at Castle HR, where we have built our business on offering our employees flexible working hours. We understood – even before the pandemic – that employees have lives, and may choose to do their work on their own schedule instead of 9-5.

Even with our flexible working hours, we remind our team regularly that they have no obligation to respond outside of their working hours unless it is an absolute emergency. We take our downtime seriously, and firmly believe that no one should have to interrupt it for something could have easily waited until the next business day.

We may have to alter some habits or policies to adjust, but the intent of this part of Bill 27 is certainly aligned with the spirit of our existing culture. If one person is doing their work in the evening and another prefers mornings, that gap might be well served by strategic “do not disturb” settings so that no one feels bad about what time of day they send an email.

Like with any major change in employment law, our job is to help you stay compliant. Our role as outsourced HR professionals is to help you both follow the law and stay ahead of the latest trends. Set up a time below to speak with one of our experts. 

Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage


21% - Castle HR


Why Flexible Work Works

Why Flexible Work Works

A lot of the workforce has started to feel some form of malaise as the pandemic stretches on. Most of us have either felt this ourselves or know someone for whom daily work feels more like they’re going through the motions. In his popular New York Times article, organizational psychologist Adam Grant calls this “languishing.”

That word struck a chord with us at Castle HR. While the worst of the pandemic may be – thankfully – over, we see how severe the employee burnout has become. Especially so in small organizations that have spent the last two years just fighting to stay afloat. Employees across the country are exhausted from ongoing environmental stresses and health worries, continuously changing workplace protocols, and learning -often on the fly – how to do their work in entirely new ways. 

And with winter (and therefore fewer daylight hours) coming up, seasonal affective disorder (or “SAD”) is bound to compound these feelings for a lot of us. This kind of employee fatigue – that is, feelings rooted in persistent external factors – is not going to be solved with a quick fix like a holiday bonus or a week of office closure before the new year.

While the ‘Great Resignation’ is more visible in the US, reports everywhere from the pandemic have shown that it is very real in Canada too. A large number of employees did not plan to return to their old positions once work re-opened, many of whom citing burn out as the main reason. 

Business owners we’ve spoken to are feeling many of the same things, and have the added stressors of trying to replace talented team members that are leaving. We know how painful turnover is for your business, both from a cost perspective and the time investment required to find the right talent as replacement.

For the sake of both owners and employees, we wanted to share one of the strategies our team uses to help preserve our mental health, or “beat the blahs”: Flex Days.

“I am more productive when I work hours that make sense to my family, and I am not distracted by wondering what I am missing. It’s not about working less; it’s about making the time that I am working count more.” 

Robyn Leduc, hr lead at Castle hr

Flex Days Around The World

Flex days aren’t new; other companies have used various versions before us. Famously, Google had a widespread ‘80-20’ policy, which meant that 20% of the time (or one day a week) Google employees could work on whatever passion projects they liked. The company, especially in its earlier years, found that the policy boosted employee engagement and creativity, and even utilized some of the ideas generated by employees in their free time. 

In Japan, Microsoft recently implemented a four day work-week, similar to some European models. It allowed employees to collect their full paycheque while only working 80% of the time. The company found that not only were they saving money in electricity, saving on printing costs, and that meetings overall were running shorter and more efficiently.

Many larger North American companies rejected the idea of a four-day work week, fearing that it would lead to a disengaged and less productive workforce. But if Google and Microsoft were doing it, we figured there had to be something to it.

How Castle Does Flexible Work Days

In order to support our clients’ work weeks, we didn’t think we could go right into a 4-day week. Maybe we’ll get there, but that’s another conversation! What we landed on is 4 regular business days, and one “flex” day.

On our flex days, no one books client meetings. We’re still reachable in case of emergencies, but the flex day is the time to get a head start on all the planning and organizing we did on Monday. It also gives us time to reliably schedule professional development, knowing it won’t get bumped when something inevitably comes up.

We decided early on that it would be Tuesdays. Mondays are full of energy and teams love coming together to plan the week. Fridays are a busy day for us, making sure everything is wrapped up and delivered to clients.

We know that our team members have lives outside of work, and Tuesday is sometimes also a day to get stuff done that doesn’t work as part of a weekend: like appointments, or just being there after school to pick up your kids or attend their gymnastics class. Our CEO, Tom, likes to golf on Tuesdays.

Flex days also mean working on our own hours. Some of our team members pack more into the mornings so they can spend the afternoon with family. Or they prefer to sleep in and work late, knowing they won’t have any early calls.

Our HR Lead, Robyn, said it best: “Working a flexible schedule means I don’t have to choose between having a career I love and being there for my kids in the moments that are important. I am more productive when I work hours that make sense to my family, and I am not distracted by wondering what I am missing. It’s not about working less; it’s about making the time that I am working count more.”

Why flex days have worked for us

We’ve kept Tuesdays as flexible work days because we love how well it’s worked. We know that may not be a fit for every business, but the take-aways can be applied to most workplaces: design your work around life, not the other way around.

If you see some signs of employee burnout, we would love to chat further and see how we can help prevent it early on. Flex days – as one possible solution – offer the peace of mind that for one work day each week, they can be off-camera and work at their own pace.

And having some freedom to schedule work around family might be the gesture from leadership that re-energizes and re-engages someone who might consider leaving.

Flex days may or may not work for you, but our HR consultants are known for coming up with creative solutions to solve problems like this. Schedule time with us using the calendar below, and let’s explore together.

Book a call with us to learn how we’re helping companies
attract superstar talent, increase productivity,
and score a ridiculous retention rate.

70 Percentage

increase in new
hire quality

59 Percentage


21% - Castle HR


When did you REALLY last check in with your team?

When did you REALLY last check in with your team?

This time last year, all eyes and ears in HR were focused on employee mental health. We were in the midst of a difficult pandemic with no clear end in sight. Employees in all industries were thrust into work-from-home (“WFH”) scenarios with little advance warning, and into setups that simply were not conducive to a functioning home office environment. Worse still, school closures and virtual schooling meant most working parents were left doing double duty, suddenly forced to teach grade school curriculum as well as maintaining their standard job duties.

Employers were broadly understanding and sympathetic. While government subsidies helped businesses to keep paying rent on the physical premises that were now suddenly vacant, employers made great strides in accommodating employees. Allowances were made for flexible hours to allow for midday parenting and household necessities without any penalties for interrupted workflow. Managers would smile politely if a toddler or pet wandered into a videoconference, understanding full well that their employee was likely pulling double or triple duty. Most importantly, employers recognized that their employees’ mental health was perilous due to the multiple stressors they now faced, and employers had no hesitation checking in and offering to help.

Fast forward one year later.

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While an end may now be in sight, the pandemic is still not over. Working parents have dealt with another year of on and off school closures, with working while teaching now becoming the new normal. Employees everywhere are suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue,’ physically exhausted from having to appear bright and chipper on video conferences day after day to maintain the appearance of good health. They have been burdened by the stress of worrying about variants, procuring vaccines, caring for relatives, and attempting to slowly navigate what a post pandemic world might look like.

So when was the last time that you really checked in with your employees, and asked about how they are coping with the pandemic after 15 grueling months?

While external stressors such as the now-known ‘pandemic fatigue’ may be outside of managerial control, employers and managers are still responsible for how it impacts their employees’ health.

It’s in your best interests to do so. Companies that have a more engaged workforce are likely to be 78% more profitable, 40% more productive, and even have a higher valuation than their competitors who are not making those same efforts. It is unquestionably more challenging to keep a workforce engaged when you are all physically separated and undergoing significant stress, but that is all the more reason to try. 

Despite the pandemic, maintaining employees’ overall health and wellbeing is still an employer’s responsibility. While external stressors such as the now-known ‘pandemic fatigue’ may be outside of managerial control, employers and managers are still responsible for how it impacts their employees’ health. 

Under the law, employers have a ‘duty to inquire’ if they suspect that a mental health issue may be impacting performance. Taking automatic disciplinary action without stopping to question the situation first and if it may be related to disability (including mental health and addiction, all fall under protected human rights grounds) may have serious consequences. If an employer terminates a poorly performing employee who was later found to be suffering from a mental health issue, that employer could be on the hook for significant human rights damages depending on the circumstances. 

But the conversation about mental health doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. There are solutions available that can promote a positive and healthy work environment, and can address small issues before they become chronic problems in your workplace.

woman holding a magnifying glass

First: Open your eyes

Recognize the signs of burnout in your employees, and learn to catch the warning signs before burnout becomes chronic and habitual. Encourage your employees setting boundaries, especially in precarious WFH setups that offer little physical separation between a makeshift home office and a larger home life. Remember, not every employee will have the physical space to work in a separate room from where they cook/eat/relax/sleep. 

Make sure that your expectations of working hours are clear, and encourage employees to walk away and recharge during those non-working hours. If you do start to notice unhealthy habits or patterns in your employees’ work hours or work spaces, make sure that you speak with them to figure out a solution. Addressing the problem early can help avoid serious negative impacts on mental health and productivity. 

crop faceless woman showing small gift box on palms

Second: Give a little bit

Remember that just because we are over a year into the pandemic, your employees’ home lives and personal needs may have changed over the last 15 months. Babies have been born and children have grown up who now have different care needs than they did last March, as have relatives who may be ill, or other personal circumstances that have arisen. While you can largely expect your employees to stay working during working hours, remember that employees are simultaneously juggling complex home needs throughout their work day. A bit of compassion and creative flexibility will likely encourage them to remain productive, and avoid employees burning out from unrealistic expectations. 

Have honest conversations with your employees, not just a cursory ‘are you okay,’ but ask them what you can do to improve their mental health. Take a look at your employee benefits package, and consider revising to make sure that it incorporates their suggestions. Increased days off or flex time, sponsored gym memberships, and benefits for counselling can all be helpful. Even a low-cost solution such as sponsored memberships to mental health apps such as Calm or Headspace can be helpful. 

black man explaining problem to female psychologist

Third: Promote good mental health

Make no mistake, this goes a step beyond simply opening up the dialogue. While you may not be a mental health professional, there are plenty of low-cost or no-cost resources available where you can direct all employees, so that they have the right tools when in need. Check in with employees regularly, and be genuine when you do. Ask them if they need more support to manage or balance their workload; the question alone may offer them a sense of relief knowing that they are supported. 

Take a hard look at your company culture. Are your values being respected, or do they need to be revamped to meet new accommodations? Do you promote and value the connections formed between coworkers? Is it a culture where expectations are made clear, and resources are promoted if anyone begins to feel burnout? If strained mental health is a common problem then a cultural shift may be in order. Remember that good mental health should be seen as a priority alongside any other in the business, and not just a waste of time or pleasant afterthought. Participation is key.   

At Castle HR we are passionate about workplace mental health because we’ve been there ourselves. We have worked in environments in the past that promoted high performance over wellness and balance, and we remember what it’s like when adequate supports are not in place. Our team of fractional HR professionals understand how much good workplace mental health can mean to a small organization, and we’re experienced in building and implementing solutions that help your team thrive. Contact us today to learn more about our services. 

Looking for ways to promote your team’s wellness? We can help.

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