2023: An HRDs guide to what lies ahead

So here we have it.

2022 is officially drawing to a close. Another new year is just around the corner.

But what will it actually bring?

If there’s one thing 2022 taught us, it’s to accept we all continue to live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.

In a world where unpredictability rules, the one thing we can probably all predict is that this will continue going forward.

But for HRDs on the ground though, what does more unpredictability really mean?

To finish off the year, TLNT canvassed experts and commentators from areas including DEI, talent acquisition, benefits and other to hear what they believe will be key trends/predictions for the next 12 months ahead.

Will what they say come true? Who knows, but – as the popular expression goes, forearmed, is forewarned!

Here’s what they have to say:

“MY TOP TRENDS…”

by Jess Elmquist, chief human resources officer, Phenom: 

  • Speed and accuracy wins; rapid recruiting: “Talent isn’t waiting two weeks for a job interview. They want a job and they want it now. Know the fit and make the offer. Rapid recruiting is the trend that you have to master or you will lose the talent game.
  • Talent acquisition is talent management: “I see it as a seamless desire to join a company and plan your career from day one, so candidates can see their career growth as they onboard. Disrupt old beliefs. Be inspired by young professionals’ drive and join the experience by creating a measurable and inspiring path for career growth and development for your people. AI empowers people at all levels of an organization to map out their careers.”
  • Lifestyle is the new work style: “See your employees as whole, unique individuals with lives outside of work. Banish nostalgia! Make this a larger conversation than ‘back to the office!’ Survey your teams, find out what they value, and what earns you loyalty. Challenge long-held beliefs that “butts in seats” is more productive than new ways to work. Measure productivity. It’s not about what makes leaders feel better, it’s about the outcome and quality of work completed.”
  • AI everywhere: “AI isn’t making personnel decisions, AI is simply supporting and informing decisions faster and more accurately. Leaders make the decisions; AI provides the objective data to help us get there. Take the time to get informed on the impact of AI at work. Understand what it is, how it works, and how you can implement and win the talent game.
  • Combine purpose and profits: “The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The supreme good is like water — it nourishes all things without trying. How’s your company doing in pursuit of a supreme, altruistic good? Challenge your organization if it’s falling short.”
  • Mental health = corporate health: “The soft skills — empathy, curiosity, listening — are key to a company’s growth mindset. And they will only grow in importance in the new talent economy. Companies go in the direction of leadership. People don’t leave companies, they leave leaders. Leader development is critical in the new talent economy. Know how to hire leaders and then invest in their growth.”

 My Two Big Predictions…”

 Scott Francis, technology evangelist at Fujitsu Computer Products of America says:

1) Hybrid and remote work models will mature – and win – in 2023:

As the “return-to-office” debate continues into 2023, the organizations that continue to offer flexible positions will win the heated battle for the best talent, as hybrid and remote work options become competitive differentiators. More companies will embrace flexible work models, and find ways to transparently measure employee efficiency, optimizing teams for not only the best results, but to better balance team responsibilities. In addition, even typical “in-person” industries like healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing will migrate their back-office employees to remote work, freeing up valuable space for patient and guest rooms, or equipment storage.”

2) Companies will leverage AI to shed light on ‘Dark Data’:

“The lack of insight caused by the “black hole” of dark data will continue to plague companies in 2023, including the loss of “tribal” knowledge every time an employee leaves the company. This knowledge gap will lead organizations to leverage AI to classify employee knowledge, making sure everything is captured and searchable, thus enabling team members and new employees to quickly ramp up rather than starting from ground zero.”

 What the research says:

According to data from the newly published ‘The 2023 State of People Report’:

  • Hybrid work is here to stay:

Half of respondents expect to maintain a remote workforce of 50% or more over the next 12 months. Nearly one in four expect to maintain a 90-100% remote workforce.

  • Pay should be closer linked to performance:

Some 83% of HR professionals believe compensation should be linked to performance. Yet, 72% acknowledge they could improve efforts to link the two in employee evaluations, and 27% admit they need to do a lot more.

  • DEIB is a top priority

DEIB rises in priority after a dip in 2021, rising from #6 to #4 on the priority list for people teams – with addressing bias in performance reviews emerging as a top concern.

According to The Future of Corporate Academies survey:

  • Nearly six in ten (59%) of the 515 learning leaders at large corporations polled believe hybrid learning is becoming a major part of the learning landscape, not just a temporary trend.

  • The biggest jump in training offerings for new audiences will be digital automation workers, which will rise 23% in 2025.

TOP TRENDS IN TALENT ACQUISITION TO EXPECT:

Ahryun Moon, founder & head of company strategy, GoodTime.io says:

  1. Tensions between in-office and remote will continue: Despite most studies demonstrating a plurality of employees prefer flexible work, some companies are demanding employees return to the office full-time or at least a set schedule of days per week. Expect this to be a battleground in 2023, where some employees will leave their company for one with policies closer to their interests.
  2. Everyone will do more with less: The inflationary concerns in 2022 led to a slowing job market which led some companies to reduce HR headcount and produced a knock-on effect on external recruiters. Even if they’ve decreased the overall headcount, companies looking to fill roles will have fewer resources to do so.
  3. Automation is ready for prime time: When companies increase hiring, which will happen in 2023, they will need serious tech support to win the recruitment war. This is a matter of automation out of necessity instead of trying to be cool with the latest tech.
  4. Pay Transparency for job ads will become the norm: California will introduce Senate Bill 1162 on January 1, 2023, which forces employers to include pay ranges in all job advertisements. NYC likewise will require nearly every company to include salary ranges for job postings, even for jobs announced internally. Companies in other states will follow suit.
  5. DEIB goes from a priority to a must-have: Many companies are still lagging behind the times. There will be no excuse in 2023. Candidates will increasingly prioritize companies with a concrete approach to DEIB.
  6. Layoffs will soften: Whether or not we enter a recession, companies will begin to curtail layoffs and look to hire. Talent acquisition leaders must take this time to get their 2023 hiring priorities and strategies in place, especially if their company currently has a hiring freeze.
  7. Reschedule rates will become increasingly measured: As more companies move to software and procedures that enable self-scheduling, companies must keep a close eye on how often top candidates reschedule. Data-driven companies will look at rescheduling rates as a KPI of relationship building.

TOP DE&I TRENDS AND PREDICTIONS:

By Mandy Price, co-founder and CEO of Kanarys 

* Up-skilling will be key in recession-proofing a business:

With all of the signs pointing to a global economic downturn, companies have already started announcing hiring slowdowns, freezes, and layoffs. But investing in the up-skilling of current employees has to be a key focus for companies in the new year. It will help them prepare for a period of economic uncertainty, and instead of hiring, they should train workers to have skills that can meet a wide range of business requirements. Up-skilling should contribute to employee retention. According to a recent study, employees value the ability to learn new skills so much that 83% of workers place it as their top priority for next year. In that same study, 74% of employees were willing to leave their current job due to a lack of skill-building and career mobility opportunities.

* Political affiliation bias will be an area of concern:

While talking about politics at work has been taboo, younger employees are eager to discuss their political affiliations. Among workers aged 35-45, 71% agreed that all employees should be able to express their political opinions at work. However, we’ve seen that political affiliation bias has risen by 12 percentage points in the past three years. With the next presidential election coming up in 2024, conversations around political issues will only heat up, and companies will need to lean on DEI and put guidelines in place to help eliminate conflict.

* Gen Z will grow its influence in the workplace:

Gen Z is already joining the workplace in droves with many of them entering their early twenties and ready for full-time employment. Data shows that by 2025, Gen Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce. Soon they will yield immense economic power, and with their culture of influencing change, Gen Z voices will not go unnoticed in the workplace. It will be important for companies to figure out how to keep this demographic group as they’re proving they have no problem leaving their jobs if companies do not fulfill their requirements. Nearly 65% of Gen Z workers plan on leaving their jobs in less than a year, compared to 40% of all employees.

* More companies will embrace the four-day workweek:

In early June, more than 70 companies in the United Kingdom embarked upon a six-month four-day workweek pilot program, and midpoint figures were already extremely promising. According to 4 Day Week Global, the nonprofit spearheading the U.K.’s abbreviated workweek initiative, productivity has been maintained or improved at the majority of participating firms (95%) and most will continue with the program once the official trial ends (86%). We are already seeing the four-day week becoming more prevalent in the United States, and Democratic Congressman Mark Takano has even introduced a California bill that would reduce the standard work week from 40 hours to 32 hours. With the UK trial concluding at the end of 2022, the results may encourage more companies to put in place shortened work weeks.

* Pay transparency will continue gaining momentum:

Several states now require that salary information be included on job postings, with New York City becoming the most populous jurisdiction to implement this requirement by the end of 2022. When similar laws go into effect in Washington and California at the beginning of 2023, a fifth of all workers nationwide will be covered under pay-transparency laws. These new laws may lead to other states following suit, along with more employees calling for pay transparency. According to a survey conducted earlier this year, a majority of workers want insight into how their organizations calculate compensation, and more than two-thirds would switch employers for greater transparency.

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* Mental health will remain a top priority:

The threat to employee wellbeing continues to intensify with 60% of the global workforce reporting at least one mental health challenge, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, or burnout, according to McKinsey. Company and HR leaders need to find solutions that address the mental health challenges their employees are facing. In 2023, mental health and well-being will continue to be a central focus, and a Gallup survey found that two out of three U.S. employers say they plan to make employee mental health, and emotional well-being programs and solutions that support it, one of their top three health priorities over the next three years.

TOP BENEFITS TRENDS AND PREDICTIONS:

By Sheri Atwood, CEO and founder, SupportPay:

  • Comprehensive benefits packages will continue despite the economic downturn:

The war for talent will continue to drive benefit enhancements, and a recent survey from Mercer found that 70% of all large employers are planning benefit enhancements for 2023. In the New Year, this will be especially important with the economic downturn, and we’re already seeing massive layoffs, particularly in the technology sector. HR decision-makers will need to lean on competitive benefits packages that focus on prioritizing health, wellness, and employee outcomes in order to keep top talent.

  • Financial wellbeing will be an area of concern:

Research has shown that financial wellbeing is tied to retention, productivity, and an employee’s overall mental and physical wellbeing. With economic uncertainty and soaring inflation, financial wellbeing will be a top concern in 2023.

  • Companies focus on benefits for each life stage:

The pandemic was a significant hardship that highlighted the struggles employees are facing with parenting, care-giving, and more. As a result, companies began implementing supportive family-friendly benefits like expanding paid family leave, childcare, family building, and elderly care assistance. While companies are heading in the right direction, there are a number of groups still left behind like employees who are single parents or those navigating divorce or separation. In 2023, we’ll see companies continuing to implement holistic benefits that address each life stage and add more features to their benefit programs that meet employees where they are.

  • Affordability will be top of mind:

The benefits market is evolving with innovative companies entering the market with affordable benefits and unique solutions for employee pain points. With these new offerings, employers have an opportunity to reduce costs, while enhancing their benefits packages and improving the quality of life for their employees.

Assessing the state of hiring after a chaotic year

By: Josh Millet, founder and CEO of Criteria

“After several of the most difficult years hiring professionals have faced in a long time, their jobs don’t seem to be getting any easier. While the labor market is finally cooling a bit, there are still 1.7 job openings for every unemployed worker in the US and turnover remains high. One of the reasons for this adjustment is the fact that a recession looks increasingly imminent, while inflation is continuing to shrink balance sheets and put pressure on companies’ bottom lines.

The hiring market is anything but simple right now, and HR teams are facing a difficult end of 2022 and beginning of 2023. But Criteria’s 2022 Hiring Benchmark Report suggests that the news isn’t all bad and offers guidance for companies trying to develop an effective HR strategy.

For the report, we surveyed over 500 hiring professionals – in companies of all sizes across many industries – to understand how they’re responding to the difficult economic environment and the shifting demands of candidates.

Here are a few key insights from the report:

  1. Hiring professionals are surprisingly optimistic:

Despite the economic volatility, tight labor market, and high turnover rates, 78% of hiring professionals anticipate that their companies will grow in 2023, while just 2% expect a decline. Optimism about growth is even higher in the professional services, technology, and recruiting industries: 84%, 87%, and 91%, respectively. These numbers defy the constant predictions of a deep and long recession. While there’s no telling what next year will bring, hiring professionals believe their companies are in a strong position to navigate an economic contraction. Hiring professionals also say many of their central challenges, while still difficult, have become easier to manage – from optimizing employee training programs to making the hiring process more efficient.

  1. Hiring demand may be leveling off but HR budgets are rising:

Although hiring professionals are optimistic about their companies’ prospects, just 27% expect that they’ll hire more in 2023. Meanwhile, 41% believe they’ll hire less and almost a third think their hiring will remain the same. These findings are consistent with the most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which suggests a downward trend in hiring volume. However, hiring professionals predict that their budgets will increase by 7.4% next year. Our survey also found that 80% of hiring professionals are confident in their hiring process, 37% of whom are very confident – a 22% increase from 2021.

  1. Talent mobility can improve employee retention:

According to our survey, half of hiring professionals say employee turnover is a major issue at their companies. This is consistent with broader quit rates in the economy, which have been near all-time highs throughout 2022. Our report found that one way to improve employee retention is to focus on talent mobility. For while 55% of companies without talent mobility programs say turnover is a major issue for them, this proportion falls to 47% for companies with these programs. While hiring professionals think candidates are more concerned about compensation than any other issue, our survey found that they’re more interested in opportunities for career advancement. Despite all this evidence that talent mobility will help companies retain employees, just 28% say they have a program in place to facilitate it.

  1. Return-to-office (RTO) policies are causing turnover:

Although 54 percent of hiring professionals say their companies have implemented RTO plans, just 39% say their employees mostly work in the office. Another 39% report that their companies have adopted a hybrid model of remote and in-person work, while 22 percent are mostly remote – which means remote work remains a significant element of HR operations at 61% of companies. Meanwhile, over half of HR professionals continue to conduct video interviews. Fifty-six percent of hiring professionals at companies that operate mostly in person say turnover is a major issue – a proportion that declines to 50% for hybrid companies and 41% for companies that are primarily remote Companies that have mandatory RTO policies are also more likely to say they have major turnover issues than those that don’t.

  1. Hiring professionals should reconsider what candidates really want:

Hiring professionals wrongly assume that compensation is the top candidate priority, but it actually ranks third – behind work-life balance and opportunities for career advancement. This finding is particularly significant at a time when inflation has cut into the value of employees’ earnings and a recession appears to be likely. Candidates’ top demands are consistent with other findings in our report, such as the fact that remote work and talent mobility can increase employee retention. Remote work provides the independence that allows employees to decide where and how they do their jobs, while talent mobility gives them a chance to do their best work and advance their careers within the company instead of moving elsewhere. Hiring professionals are still confronting many immense obstacles and considerable uncertainty, but they have also demonstrated resilience and adaptability over the past several years. From finding a balance between remote and in-person work to creating talent mobility programs, our report highlights several concrete steps companies can take to improve turnover, value human capital more effectively, and prepare for 2023. As economic pessimism continues to dominate the headlines, the hiring market may be one of the few exceptions to the gloom.”

Peter Crush is the interim editor of TLNT. He’s an award-winning journalist based in London, and he writes exclusively about the ever-changing world of work.

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