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Perfecting hybrid work, putting people first

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In the past couple years, HR leaders were tested like never before. With the abrupt shift to remote work, mass resignations, economic volatility, and geopolitical upheaval, they were challenged on all fronts. What are the HR trends to expect in 2023?

Employee well-being, flexible work models, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been top HR priorities for companies as they’ve worked to adjust to massive disruption and change. As we head into next year, we’ll see many of these trends continue and evolve as organizations zone in on communication, skills development, and relationship management.

2023 HR trends: An employee-centric approach

HR leaders learned on the fly as they helped companies and their employees through the pandemic, a tough economy, and social unrest. Next year, they’ll continue to play key roles as organizations navigate change and plan for the future of work.

In 2023, these areas will emerge as top priorities for HR leaders:

  1. The employee experience
  2. A human approach to employee-manager relationships
  3. Talent shortage
  4. Contingent workers
  5. Perfecting hybrid work
  6. Employee visibility
  7. Employee development
  8. Driving employee engagement

1. All eyes on employee experience

Employee expectations have shifted since 2020 and HR is seeing the impact on the quality and quantity of employee attraction and retention across all industries. Every milestone, from a candidate’s first impression, through hiring and onboarding, their career path and development, to their decision to leave the company are critical experiences.

A Gartner survey of HR leaders found that 47% cite employee experience as a top priority for 2023.

Employees are looking for companies to focus on four areas:

  • Putting people first: The employee experience needs to be individualized to their personal and professional circumstances.
  • Flexibility: One-size does not fit all, and employees need flexible hours and benefits that fit their lifestyles.
  • Shared purpose: Employees are increasingly seeking out organizations that align with their ethics, values and politics.
  • Overall well-being: Employees look for companies that take a holistic approach to mental, physical and emotional health.

How does employee experience impact business performance?

A positive employee experience helps drive the success of a company, from both a financial and social point of view.

2.  Employee-manager relationships, humanized

Management has become increasingly complicated in hybrid work environments, and expectations of managers have skyrocketed. Now that companies have  systems in place to support hybrid work, HR managers in 2023 will be shifting their focus toward developing relationships with new employees and strengthening relationships with veterans on their team.

Emotionally distant management is a thing of the past. Employees want and need managers who are authentic and empathetic.

And like their teams, managers need support through additional training and resources to increase their soft skills.

One-on-ones traditionally were tactical and results driven. And yes, results matter, but employees self-report that 31% of conversations with their managers are basic or bad, with little or no focus on wellbeing or development.

With job dissatisfaction soaring (49% of workers report feeling burned out, according to a Joblist Q3 2022 study) managers will want to focus on developing four cornerstones of their relationship with their team:

  • Trust: Always be honest with employees, communicate clearly, uphold commitments, respect boundaries, and express vulnerability.
  • Shared commitment and accountability: Establish mutual commitments between manager and employee, and hold each other accountable to the success of the relationship.
  • Frequent check-ins: Whenever possible, meet in-person, virtually or over the phone. Text and email is prone to misinterpretation.
  • Public praise: Managers are positioned to amplify employee’s contributions and accomplishments to the larger organization.

Management has become more than taking the pulse of the team and maintaining productivity. A human-centric approach to fostering relationships can help boost morale and mitigate attrition, directly impacting the company’s bottom line.

Break the cycle of professional burnout: Meet the Chief Wellbeing Officer

Woman covering her face, with stress emoticons surrounding her, implying professional burnout and the need for a Chief Wellbeing Officer. “We lock up our homes, we lock up our cars, we lock up our stuff – but when it comes to boundaries for our own personal well-being, we just give it away. You know: just come in, take it, and rob me.” The chief wellbeing officer is a new, much-needed role in the enterprise to tackle the growing challenge of professional burnout.

3. Grappling with the talent shortage

With older generations leaving the workforce, COVID, and new college grads lacking the skills businesses demand, recruiting and hiring in 2023 is going to be challenging.

Because employees are taking matters into their own hands, it’s not surprising that job candidates are being more deliberate and discerning throughout the interview process. Employees want to protect their time, benefits, and professional growth.

After 47 million US workers quit their jobs during what’s known as the Great Resignation, recruiting has become increasingly difficult. And the way companies usually recruit employees is insufficient. Flexible hours, higher pay, strong benefits are the baseline, and those alone aren’t enough to attract top talent.

According to Gartner’s HR survey, 36% of HR leaders say their recruiting strategies fall short when it comes to finding the skills they need.

Traditional recruitment strategies that rely on recruiting firms and LinkedIn messages aren’t delivering quality candidates. In 2023, HR will pull from marketing’s playbook.

  • Reputation is everything: Develop and promote a strong brand that highlights company ethics, employees growth, a vibrant culture, and stable finances.
  • Tap your network: Referrals from current employees to future candidates will be a company’s most valuable asset for hiring in 2023.

Quiet quitting, acting your wage, and the TikTok of it all

A woman stands beneath a brilliant blue sky with her hands clapped near where her head should be, but the woman has disappeared, a play on the quiet quitting trend. People quietly fade away from extra work or effort for which they are not compensated. Burnout has entered the chat: Quiet quitting doesn’t mean quitting your job, but rather unsubscribing from the above-and-beyond mentality.

4. Filling the gap: The rise of contingent workers

The Great Resignation has resulted in jobs remaining open longer while companies search for candidates with the right set of skills for each role. In the battle for talent, contingent workers — also known as freelancers and contract workers — are filling the gaps with specific skills that companies need, an HR trend that will continue in 2023.

In 2021, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) reported that there were 52 million contingent workers in the U.S. representing 35% of all workers and accounting for $1.3 trillion of revenue.

Whether it’s accounting, design, or technology, companies need to find the right combination of incentives to bring onboard the right people for each role.

Many formerly full-time employees have transitioned to contingent work because it allows them to select the projects and companies they want to work for when and how they want to work.

Workers and companies alike are seeing the benefits of contingent work. Flexibility and control are the top priority for employees and employers. The benefit to companies is the chance to bring on contract workers on a project basis, allowing them to test the talent pool while saving money on insurance and benefits.

Talent management: Creating a people advantage with HXM

Successful talent management focuses on the employee experience. HXM helps businesses develop their people and win. Successful talent management focuses on the employee experience. With HXM, businesses can leap ahead by supporting their employees to excel.

5. HR trend: Perfecting hybrid work in 2023

Since 2020 employers and employees have navigated the benefits and challenges of remote and hybrid work together. Next year, getting these new flexible work models right will be a top HR trend.

A Beezy survey of 800 employees at large organizations found that 73% worked in either a hybrid or fully remote setting in 2022. Thirty-two percent said they want to remain fully remote.

Before COVID, there had been a long-standing perception that in-office employees are more productive than remote workers. In the last two years, data shows that people who worked remotely at least some of the time reported being about 9% more efficient working from home than they were working from the office.

To date, no one has perfected the hybrid work experience, but it’s here to stay as the future of work.

Employees aren’t willing to give up the flexibility, work-life balance, and money they save working remotely. Companies that don’t offer flexible work models have a harder time recruiting and retaining employees.

At the same time, hybrid work comes with a raft of HR challenges, including establishing and maintaining trust, collaboration, and employee visibility across the organization.

However, unlike in 2020, companies have the structure, systems, and equipment in place to support hybrid work.

Remote employee wellness in a WFH world: Top tips

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6. Can you see me: Employee visibility in a hybrid world

Hybrid work presents the specific challenge of measuring and tracking employee performance. Companies promoting flexibility means that employees get to choose how they work within the parameters the company has put in place.

With the shift to hybrid work, the concept of employee visibility takes on new meaning and companies need to find new ways to ensure employees are recognized and included, whether they work remotely or in an office.

Leaders, managers and contractors have different needs, and blanket solutions are a mistake.

At the heart of visibility is trust, and the need for visibility changes depending on the level and role of the employee.

Visibility is especially important for supporting DEI. Leaders need to ensure all workers, including women and people of color are recognized, represented, and heard.

A McKinsey report shows that companies with the top quartile for ethnic and gender diversity are the ones with financial returns above industry medians. The main reason is that diversity is also a performance and investment metric.

If a company presents everyone with the same opportunities, it promotes healthy competitiveness and professional development. In 2023, the HR trend towards increased visibility will help pave the way for new development paths.

Reaching equal: Inclusion and diversity now, or innovation loss later

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7. The upskilling trend for HR in 2023

Nearly all employees are looking for a growth path within their career and 44% of employees feel like their current companies don’t offer compelling career paths, according to Gartner’s recent study. Understandably, employees are looking elsewhere for new growth opportunities.

But hope is not lost, and companies can help current employees prepare for opportunities that are coming. Companies need everything from technical, data-driven skills as well as soft skills like emotional intelligence and leadership. Organizations can focus on up-skilling by encouraging employees to attend virtual courses, conferences, and seminars.

In 2023, employee development needs to be tailored to the person and the role. A few questions to consider are:

  • How does the employee learn?
  • What skills do they already have?
  • How can information and resources best be shared?

How to recruit + retain top talent: Put people and their experiences first

Recruit and Retain Top Talent From how we engage and draw candidates to our open roles to providing a positive candidate and interview experience, we must consistently work toward building stronger connections and relationships with candidates.

8. Keeping employee engaged despite the distance

With work becoming more individualized and teams spending less and less time in the office, data is showing that employees don’t value work friendships anymore. This is an unsettling HR trend, given the 2018 Gallup survey, which found that employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged at their job.

That data showed how weak work friendships correspond to employee engagement, and directly impact burnout and attrition.

Happy hours, lunches, and casual interactions provided opportunities to build work bonds, but have evaporated since COVID. The onus falls on managers to keep employees engaged through regular check-ins and virtual team meetings.

Employee development also is a factor in driving employee engagement, with studies showing that workers who see good opportunities for growth are more engaged.

The HR outlook for 2023

As the employee experience will takes center stage in 2023, managers will focus on tightening their bonds with their employees to support growth and development.

The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years and will continue to evolve. Companies will lean heavily on HR and the talent and experience of their teams as they tackle the challenges ahead.

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