Key drivers changing the world around us in 2022

From implementing sustainable practices to increasing diversity and returning to physical connection, Sledge's Sarah Yeats investigates

According to clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, we humans are naturally wired to fear change, however the world has always been in a state of flux, and this of course increased at a rapid rate as the pandemic took hold.

The human population is now faced with a whole new suite of changes as we transition back to a world of face-to-face interactions and experiences, across both our personal and professional lives.

While many of us might fear it, as the saying goes: great things never came from comfort zones, and there are a number of positive changes driving the world around us today.

Evolving practices to protect the planet

We’re seeing an increased focus not only on the urgency surrounding climate change, businesses and individuals are taking action. While there is still much to be done in this area, companies are not only formalising their sustainability policies, but developing roadmaps which outline the more granular steps they need to take to keep themselves accountable.

We’re seeing this with the majority of our clients — they now come to us for consultative advice and support when it comes to minimising the impact of their events, films and experiences.

From an individual perspective, studies have found that sustainability is, at some level, a concern for 92% of Brits. This highlights consumers are changing their daily lives and purchasing habits to play their part in environmental conservation.

A heightened focus on diversity, equity and inclusion

A Glassdoor survey from back in 2020 found that when it comes to evaluating companies and job offers, a diverse workforce is an important consideration for 76% of job seekers. Now, we’re seeing more and more companies take action. They are, for example, auditing job ads to ensure they are free from language which might resonate with candidates from particular backgrounds or genders over others, and a number of diversity job boards have emerged, such as DiverseJobsMatter and LGBT Jobs, where brands such as Burberry, GymShark and Sky have advertised roles.

Organisations which help to ensure greater diversity in specific sectors are also launching. In ours, these include Diverse Speaker Bureau, which works with businesses to help them diversify their event speaker programmes.

New expectations in the world of work

From the rise of the hybrid working model to the Great Resignation, it’s safe to say that employees’ expectations around employers have changed. Leaders need to nurture their people in order to retain them, and they are also evolving their workplace policies to attract new talent.

This is especially the case for Gen Z, who we know seek more than ping pong tables and Friday Drinks, they look for transparency, flexible workplaces, and opportunities to get stuck in and learn instead of doing the tasks no one else wants to.

Envoy’s At Work: The 2022 Workplace Trends Report speaks to this — its research found that 58% of organisations (where respondents included representatives from brands such as BuzzFeed, Squarespace and Xero) invested more in their workplaces in 2021 compared to the previous year, and 76% of leaders at these organisations stated they measure success in their roles by employee satisfaction.

A return to physical connection, in some way

Whether it’s attending an event or catching up for dinner, there’s nothing quite like connecting with others in face-to-face environments, and brands recognise this (plus they see the ROI in this activity). At the same time, they also want to cater to those who remain more comfortable engaging with others remotely.

CVENT’s 2022 Q1 Planner Sourcing Report: Europe Edition highlights this growing trend — it found that events with in-person elements will make up the event programmes of 70% of planners this year.

Change is inevitable, and while the pandemic instilled much fear within us as it upended many of our lives at a rapid pace, on reflection, there are some positives that have emerged from it, which are now driving how we all live and work today.

Featured image: Marcus Spiske / Unsplash

Sarah Yeats

Throughout her 17+ year career Sarah has worked with leading brands across the automotive, financial, telecommunications and technology sectors to deliver industry-leading events in various corners of the globe. These include exclusive VIP dinners through to large, high profile conferences for thousands of attendees. At Sledge Sarah is responsible for developing key accounts and providing strategic and creative planning on client projects, and has successfully both led and grown the agency throughout the pandemic. Passionate about nurturing the next generation, she works closely with her team, encouraging them to develop their individual talent, think outside the box, and champion innovation and creativity on every project. A firm believer in a collaborative approach, outside of her work managing Sledge Sarah champions the event industry and connects with event professionals to share ideas and creative practice whenever possible. She regularly speaks at and attends industry events, engages in awards judging, and shares her best practice advice with the media and in podcasts.

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