6 Global Trends for 2022: What They Mean for Business Owners & Leaders

High performance best managed companies have a few things in common: they lead their sectors in growth and profitability and they have shifted their mindset toward 2022. They are taking steps now to address the emerging business trends facing all businesses, big and small.

The world is facing complex global challenges and issues. The past few years have seen unprecedented turbulence due to COVID, changes in governments, market swings, radical shifts in demographics and technology. These uncharted waters have come at enormous personal costs and have strained relationships with our employees, our customers, and our key suppliers. Owner-managed businesses are facing the same complex global challenges as multinationals: supply chain, staffing, turbulence, disruption.

The turbulence of the last two years has amplified the fact that a sustainable future and economy are all about trust. Trust is the new measure of success

Review these global trends to kickstart your year, stay one step ahead and make 2022 your most profitable year.

Trend #1 - Adaptability and Agility

Regardless of what industry you are in, we all have one thing in common – we are going to be faced with more turbulence in 2022. The status quo is always being upended. The need to continually move fast, bounce back, navigate and seize opportunities will continue.

Changing business models, refocusing, retooling, and recalibrating are the tools that high performers are using to stay ahead. Resilient business owners and leaders will have a competitive advantage by delivering value to their customers. However, you won't be able to accomplish this without an engaged team of employees who add value to each client touchpoint. (Find out how.)

According to Gallop, when employees don't trust organizational leadership, the chance of being engaged is only 1 in 12. When trust is established, engagement skyrockets to better than 1 in 2.

As you've heard me say in presentations, "Trust starts on the inside, with employees. You build trust with customers from the inside out. Trust drives engagement and innovation." And as I've written about in my book, The Power of Trust: How Top Companies Build, Manage and Protect It , your colleagues and coworkers can become 'your hidden asset'.

Bottom line for business owners and leaders:

Align and equip your team with the skills and the tools. Ask yourself: do you have a high-performance team?

Trend#2 Customer Experience

2022 screams for a heightened awareness of convenience and personalization. Customer buying behaviours and expectations have changed.

Is it in stock? What do the reviews say? When will it get here? What payment options are there? Is there a trial period? Can I speak with someone before ordering?

Big brands like Netflix, Tesla and Nike have trained us well. The modern consumer expects personalization and easy seamless online experiences. This is being felt in the B2B environment as well.

B2B customers want their buying experience to be easy and convenient too. The widespread adoption of technology during the past 5 years led to a full-scale revolution during COVID. Companies are sitting on a gold mine of data that can inform sales strategy and customer expectations.

Trust is the foundation to build and deliver extraordinary customer experiences. Companies that balance online interaction with personal interactions will win in 2022.

Bottom line for business owners:

Innovating around customer experiences will drive Trust Equity™, loyalty and business results. Mine the gold. Survey your customers. Find out what your Trust Equity score is. What is their experience like with your company?

Trend #3 Authenticity

Customers want to buy from companies that are authentic, those that care about our communities, their employees and their customers. Employees, customers and partners pay attention. The tolerance for disingenuous activity will continue to decrease.

Consider these facts:

  • A study by Pega Systems states that 69% of people think organizations have a moral obligation to do what is right for the customer, beyond what's really required.
  • 72% of Gen-Z customers (born 1996 onward) are more likely to purchase from a company that contributes to social causes.
  • 81% of Canadians are willing to pay more to buy from companies they trust.

Bottom line for business owners:

Customers will continue to ask, "Is this company authentic? Are they acting in my best interests? In the public's best interests? Will they do the right thing? Can I trust them?"

Trend #4 Labour Market and Employee Experiences

Retaining and recruiting employees will continue to be a dominant issue in 2022.

Employee expectations have changed. Couple that with the impact of isolation, mental health, and the loss of personal connection. Employees are redefining what work means to them and taking stock of how they want to work, where they work, and if they want to work.

Named the 'Great Attrition', employees who are disengaged are leaving their jobs at record rates. In September 2021, McKinsey reported that  40% of people surveyed are likely to leave their job in the next 3-6 months. In Canada, there is a war for talent across all sectors and the unemployment rate is at an all-time low.

If your team doesn't think you act in their best interest, it leads to low trust, low engagement, and they certainly will not help you attract new talent or delight customers. As we know, most people don't leave companies; they leave bad managers.

When people feel they have a manager they can trust, they feel appreciated, respected and valued for their contributions. They have a sense of belonging, are engaged, loyal and productive.

McKinsey's 2021 study of 4,942 people from Canada, USA, Australia, United Kingdom and Singapore reports: "employees were far more likely to prioritize relational factors, whereas employers were more likely to focus on transactional ones like compensation."

If companies make a concerted effort to understand why employees are leaving and take meaningful action to retain them, this could make an impact in 2022.

Bottom line for business owners:

Building trust is a strong retention strategy. Invest to train your managers about how to build trust in their teams. This is a significant step towards building productivity and engagement and it's critical to retaining your employees. (Find out more here.) If your managers, supervisors and team leads do not build trust with their co-workers and direct reports, they could be a liability in 2022. One bad apple could affect the entire team.

Trend #5 Purposeful Business

Increasingly, employees and customers want to work for and buy from companies that serve a meaningful purpose. They want to buy from and work for companies with a social purpose that make a positive impact in their community and leave a light environmental impact. Purpose defines why the company exists. According to the McKinsey study cited above, front-line employees are less likely to find purpose in their roles and are, therefore, more susceptible to high attrition (September 2021).

Bottom line for business owners:

Companies that will be enjoying post-pandemic success will be focused on the customer experience, the employee experience, and the importance of purpose. Employees want to work for companies they are proud of. Purposes stated are promises made.

Trend #6 Global Marketplace

The pandemic introduced new physical boundaries and eliminated geographical boundaries. On one hand, it made our physical world very small and community-focused. On the other hand, it expanded our worldview and eliminated geographical markets. There has never been an easier time to attract and engage with clients. From podcasts to LinkedIn posts, Instagram stories, TikTok videos – content and reach is global. And there haven't been supply challenges like the ones we have now since the end of World War 2.  

Global supply chain disruption will continue to affect us in 2022 – from rising food prices to the inability to buy parts, inventory, and the lack of merchandise on the shelves. Business owners and leaders need to communicate well so customers know you are committed and motivated to do the best you can for them. When delays and challenges occur customers and partners are more forgiving and understanding when you have built Trust Equity™.

Like a blue diamond, trust is precious. It must be fortified. And it's fragile. It must be strengthened and protected.  

When employees decide to stay or go, they are looking for signs of trust. When customers buy, they are looking for signs of trust. When partners engage they are looking for signs of trust.  

When we build relationships of trust with employees, customers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders, we can do more than we ever imagined.