Globally recognized trendspotter Marian Salzman recently returned to the BlogHer stage to share her highly anticipated predictions for 2022. As part of our supporting editorial, we asked thought leaders from the BlogHer Community to share their perspectives on what’s in store for us in the coming year.
Michael Tennant is a founder, writer, and movement builder. Before launching Curiosity Lab in 2017, Tennant was a media, advertising, and nonprofit veteran with 15-years of experience delivering award-winning storytelling strategies for companies like MTV, VICE, P&G, Coca-Cola, and Oatly. In 2018, he created a conversation card game called Actually Curious, which uses the psychology of trust-building and emotional intelligence to bring people closer and spread tools for empathy.
Marian Salzman joined us live on December 14th for an insightful conversation about the 22 for 2022. Watch the replay live above.
Two years living with COVID19 has presented the most unpredictable variable in our lifetimes. According to Marian Salzman, Global Trendspotter and Senior Vice President, Global Communications, Philip Morris International (PMI), 2022 is a year that has great significance in numerology and astrology for the ominous and auspicious beckoning of change.
In the opening remarks of her annual report the 22 Trends for 2022 she notes:
“The one certainty that remains is uncertainty. The picture of America as a shining beacon of democracy and equality; the concept of a 9-to-5 job bracketed by commutes; the beckoning lights of big-city living—these are but a few examples of “truths” no longer seen as quite so solid.”
Change is our reality and our future, and it’s not leaving soon. I was struck by trends #3 Mental Health Moves Out Into the Open and #11 Change Agents Meets Cohesion Cultivators.
With social distancing, the rise of mobile usage, and the cumulative effect of stress, we are seeing an unprecedented rise in mental health issues.
The New York Times reported in December ‘21, “The United States surgeon general warned that young people are facing “devastating” mental health effects as a result of the challenges experienced by their generation, including the coronavirus pandemic.”
Specific to the workplace, in October ‘21 HBR reported, “Mental health challenges are now the norm among employees across all organizational levels. Seventy-six percent of respondents reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year, up from 59% in 2019.”
As mental health issues rise, so too is job attrition, particularly among young people.
“Sixty-eight percent of Millennials (50% in 2019) and 81% of Gen Zers (75% in 2019) have left roles for mental health reasons, both voluntarily and involuntarily, compared with 50% of respondents overall (34% in 2019).”
According to Salzman, “As the world gets wiser to these so-called diseases of despair (Mental Health Problems), time is ripe for the widespread adoption of programs, tools, and technologies that tackle problems and foster good mental health.”
For organization leaders, it’s important to start from the inside. Deep introspection will yield the behaviors that are ingrained in our own day-to-day lives that cause emotional fatigue and affect our own mental health and that of those around us.
Emotional intelligence has gained priority, but perhaps it is emotional proficiency that leaders need.
Emotional proficiency is the skill to recognize, interpret, and respond constructively to emotions in oneself and others. This skill enhances our ability to effectively and successfully lead and express using awareness of emotions.
We have reached a point where anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse and suicide are in open dialogue at major organizations across the world. But what will a sufficient support ecosystem look like?
The 2022 trend report notes, “Major multinationals—such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Philip Morris International (PMI), and Whirlpool Corp.—are putting in place support systems for their workers, including employee resource groups (ERGs) that foster diverse and inclusive workplaces and create a closer feeling of community. Etsy offers employees unlimited mental health days.”
Etsy’s unlimited mental health days is a progressive approach that helps foster safety for the afflicted to ask for what they need. However, with an insurance system that makes paying for mental health benefits complicated for the patients and providers, as well as an international shortage of therapists, an adequate support ecosystem will require a holistic approach with public and private investment of money, time, and focused energy.
It’s not enough to have ERGs alone. This puts a heavy burden on the compassionate and often multicultural or otherwise underrepresented employees that join them, to heal systemic issues that are even bigger than the community and company they serve.
Today, mental health and social justice are integral parts of a business’s culture and as Salzman recognizes, organizations are adopting business culture to support this need.
Trend #11 Change Agents Meets Cohesion Cultivators start to address how some organizations are facing this challenge of correcting inequalities and fostering safety in their organizations.
”Once people accepted that change was bound to come and that it could even open up opportunities, the stage was set for new masters of transformation to step forward. They rose to prominence as organizations sought ways to get ahead by disrupting conventional ways of working.”
Met with extreme uncertainty, most individuals and organizations faced a reckoning where their direction needed to change. We learned that we are capable of more than we imagined. We also learned that in the face of change, most of us act differently.
Those who stepped into their power, navigating the nebulous and helping those around them reach growth, have made a name as people of interest for the inflation and divisiveness ladened days ahead.
As my documentary series Driving Change From the Inside explores, the past 18-months have vaulted Chief Diversity Officers and other inside change agents to positions of greater importance, respect, and influence.
Salzman’s highlight of the new title emerging, “Cohesion Officer”, speaks to the importance of continuing to prioritize roles that specialize in supporting the psychological needs associated with change.
“These specialists will understand the workplace faults and unmet needs and opportunities that were revealed by the pandemic. They will be skilled in fostering the right balance between creating space and flexibility and facilitating togetherness and structure. In a world where workers have become more discerning and aware of their value, the impact of cohesion agents will show up in key metrics of talent retention and employee satisfaction ratings.”
Culture and community are essential though oft-overlooked and underfunded aspects of a business’s health. From start-ups to conglomerates this rings true, the culture that handles change well and with innovative solutions reaps the rewards of disruptive periods. As I continue to work to create empathetic and inclusive workplaces, I look forward to the change that the 22 Trends for 2022 predicts. Read the entire report here.