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Business advice: 2022 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger – harness its courage to not just survive, but thrive

18 November 2021

Story by
John Tarrant,, Managing Partner DNA

John Tarrant is Managing Partner of DNA.

We have undoubtedly discovered it is near impossible to predict the future, but one thing we can be certain of is that the search for talent will continue to cause significant headaches in the year ahead. 

And, as it is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, we thought it would be helpful to try and harness the power of this ambitious and purposeful animal.

For it is the year to be brave and ambitious as well as daring and enthusiastic with your approach to the challenges ahead – all attributes of the eponymous sign.

These attributes are needed. HRDs are telling us that 2021 has been about getting through it. The community is, understandably, exhausted. And we’ve seen more HRDs leave roles without a job to go to this year than ever before – along with a rising prevalence of ‘imposter syndrome’.

One said to me recently: “It’s been so hard. People have always relied on me to be the person to have all the answers, to manage situations and solve things. But like everyone else in the last 18 months, I’ve been making it up as I go along. Just about managing to get through each week rather than managing anything else to be honest. We’ve not made any progress on our supposed 2021 Plan, it’s been a year of spinning the wheels.”

The bad news for HRDs is that the world isn’t going to be a different place on January 1st 2022. New Year same challenges. The rate of change in the market is only going to accelerate and HRDs need to be aware and ahead of the change.

It’s not all bad news, however, as always there is both threat and opportunity inherent in change, it’s about mitigating the former and filling your boots on the latter. So, what are the key areas we’re counselling them on?

  • Building resilience: just like the tiger, HRs must look at their own inner strength and build resilience. This doesn’t just happen. Now more than ever HRDs need support – from their peers, from trusted partners and suppliers and from within their organisation – both the C-Suite above and line managers alike.
  • Being aware of your environment: Covid has changed how employees view the world of work and that needs to be recognised. Employees demand a voice in shaping the employment experience (our staff engagement survey responses are up 25% across the board). They want to be heard and their views actioned. They want better communication, more transparency and an understanding of context around all decisions made. We seem to be saying ‘engagement follows the clarity’ an awful lot recently.
  • Staying agile: Nowhere has this been more prevalent than in flexible working. We’ve just finished some research with the staff of a professional services firm. One of the newly qualified cohort said: “I reckoned I’d be in a maximum of two days a week. I’m trusted and being home for the last 18 months with no commute has been great. We’ve been back in the office for three months now and I’m finding I want to be in for 4 days as a minimum, sometimes its five, but the important thing is I still have the choice.” The key thing is that it’s not about going back to the office, it’s about going forwards to a new and better way of working.
  • Living with purpose: The Year of the Tiger also stands for purpose and furthering the greater good. And as above with the hybrid working, herein lies another challenge for HRDs. How do you genuinely connect people in a hybrid world? How do you give them a sense of belonging? A sense of the wider team when work relationships have been thinned out. The answer is that, along with critical moments like onboarding and induction, you have to work twice as hard to achieve it and make it fit for purpose for your business. The old ways don’t cut it anymore.
  • Developing your killer instinct: Unwanted attrition has leapt in every organisation in 2021 and it’s not going to subside in 2022. Acute skill shortages in areas like tech have been exacerbated by global companies pillaging those happy talent hunting grounds that used to be the preserve of European recruiters. The talent shortages are everywhere. The good news is that with a strong employer brand HRDs can, not only compete in the talent market. They can win.

Ultimately, Covid has also forced employers to stop, think and reevaluate who and what they are, what do they stand for and how to they want to be known in the audiences that matter to them?

Yes, they have an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in place but is it still relevant, current, authentic, distinct and compelling? It’s the platform for everything that’s good in terms of employer branding and the employment experience – and as a business tool will make you money and save you money every day. We have had more EVP discussions with HRDs in the last six months than in the last five years, it’s that important.

As with the tiger in the jungle, every decision matters and every touch point is an opportunity to not just survive, but thrive.

John Tarrant is Managing Partner of DNA.



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