Highlights (or, why you should read this post):
- We researched the latest and ongoing HR trends–from retention vs. acquisition, to talent strategy and providing employee support, to hybrid work.
- We asked HR and People leaders—including Bravely, Namely, and ThinkHuman—to respond to the top trends we identified with a prediction.
- Paired with their insights and key takeaways, here’s our take on those trends to consider, with actionable tips, as you plan for the future of work in 2023.
Believe it or not, there’s a lot to be hopeful about as we head into 2023. While there’s no denying the realities of a looming recession, widespread layoffs, and rising employee disengagement, this moment offers an opportunity for every company and People leader willing to double down on employee support and advocacy.
It might sound daunting to commit to prioritizing people when there are so many other pressures to navigate, but—as a dear coworker often reminds me—we can do hard things. Over the past few years, People and human resources professionals have shown that they’re resilient. That they’re committed to showing up and collaborating with leaders and employees to address some of the biggest challenges: to reimagine work, our work environments, and work-life balance, to name a few.
You’re heading into another year that will bring challenges and triumphs, but you’re bringing a new level of lived experience with you. And you’ve got an ever-growing community in your corner, the Blueboard team included.
Which brings us to this post, written to surface researched trends and expert talent management advice you can carry with you into a new year. Read on for actionable tips and predictions from HR leaders and people management leaders that will help you boost employee engagement and retention in 2023 and beyond.
5 predictions from HR and People leaders on what to expect in the new year.
In reviewing existing trends and research, we saw a central theme emerge: The importance of setting the people who power organizations up for success, with a focus on support and care. We asked HR and People management leaders to respond to the top trends we identified with a prediction. Paired with their insights and key takeaways, here’s our take on those trends to consider as you plan for 2023.
1. 2023 will see renewed investment in manager L&D.
More than ever, employees want support for their professional growth. Not only do managers need the training to provide this support, they also want their professional development needs taken care of, too.
Investing in development and upskilling opportunities for your entire employee base can pay off big time—in fact, our friends at Culture Amp found that L&D is essential to engagement, retention, and productivity. But this year, organizations will need to pay particular attention to how we’re supporting the managers who support our employees.
More on why this trend matters and a related prediction from Sarah Deane, Founder and CEO of MEvolution.
The human energy crisis continues, especially in light of the ongoing energetic tolls the past few years have taken on us, paving the way for the Great Re-Energizing. In 2023, organizations will face a critical junction where they will either continue down a path of energy depletion or foster the necessary environment to revitalize their employees.
In particular, managers face burnout risk more than any other job level. Spending their day giving energy to support stressed team members, supporting leaders' requests, and getting their own work tasks completed, can leave them with little energy for much else. This can be due to lack of positive relational energy: energy people share with each other, in active alignment with their values, that encourages and renews them. The Harvard Business Review found that, “positive relational energy…is the most underutilized yet powerful predictor of leadership and organizational success.”
Energy (or lack thereof) is contagious. Empowering managers with the performance management tools, training, and skills to understand their energy-blockers, unlearn old behaviors, and re-learn new, energizing ones gives them, and their team, the capacity needed to succeed. Managing their personal energy is key to successfully lead—managing up, with peers, and with direct reports.
A focus on creating, nurturing, and building managers that are positive energizers will be the difference between those that survive, and those that truly thrive, in 2023.
2. Organizations will prioritize employee retention over talent acquisition.
The next year will see many organizations more focused on supporting current employees, rather than funneling resources into bringing in new talent. Lattice’s people strategy report found that 84% of HR teams are investing more in employee retention than they have previously, and 61% of HR directors are prioritizing it over talent acquisition.
And for good reason: Many people are watching their social media feeds in real-time fill with news of layoffs, while others are watching their colleagues and friends get laid off—all in the context of an economic recession. This stuff can shake employee confidence and trigger a wave of disengagement if organizations aren’t thoughtful in how they communicate and show up for people. Now, more than ever, you’ve got to remind your workers how much they matter—efforts that extend long after the excitement of onboarding and throughout the entire employee lifecycle.
More on why this trend matters and a related prediction from Will Guerra, Head of Culture Innovation & Strategy, tEQuitable.
The cataclysmic events of the last three years—from COVID, the Great Resignation, and “quiet quitting”, to looming economic downturn, and layoffs—has shifted the paradigm of how we define the workplace. These events also encouraged people to re-prioritize and re-evaluate what they are willing (and unwilling) to tolerate in the workplace.
We saw this front and center with Twitter; when given the ultimatum of staying in a seemingly toxic culture or exiting, large numbers of employees decided to leave. We're also seeing this with workers choosing to unionize across the country and the ramp up of Gen Z'ers entering the workforce; they are explicit about the diverse and inclusive workplaces they want to work for.
When given the right tools and opportunity, employees can take an active role in vocalizing their needs. Based on tens of thousands of interactions we've had with our users, we've identified the most common recurring areas of organizational support employees are looking for:
- They want to feel supported by resources that center their well-being,
- They want to have a voice and have their feedback met with solutions,
- They want to feel safe being their authentic selves,
- And, using their voice, they want equity to be the framework of policy and promotion and they want their organization to invest in their growth.
It's now up to organizations to lean in, listen, and act on what they're hearing to better retain their employees. In 2023, people will guide the success and longevity of any organization and it will all begin with how they are treated, supported, and valued as a whole.
3. Leaders will get creative in providing support for employees.
Most organizations are tightening the pursestrings heading into 2023, making it tougher than ever to implement the kinds of People programs you might’ve envisioned to instead focus on need-to-haves like healthcare. But providing support to your employees doesn’t have to involve major investment, especially when it comes to emotional and social support—crucial pieces of employee wellbeing.
Doing more with less will require creativity, but you can show up for your team without drastically upping spending. Consider things like: making sure employees feel heard with feedback surveys and meaningful dialogue, encouraging folks to establish clear work-life boundaries, collaborating on more flexible work schedules, taking time off to recharge, and establishing mentoring or coaching programs.
More on why this trend matters and a prediction from Katasha Harley, Chief People Officer, Bravely.
The past few years have revealed that employees expect flexibility and personalization in when, where, and how they work—and now, how they learn. At Bravely, we’ve seen the benefit of providing individualized coaching to employees and leaders alike, with 92% reporting that they have learned a new skill as a result of coaching.
L&D leaders have long sought ways to mitigate learning loss—such as follow-up sessions with the program facilitator, creating small cohorts for continued learning, or sending reminders to participants months later. In order to overcome the forgetting curve, companies must provide programs tailored to the individual by teaching what is needed in the moment and reinforcing the lesson through further resources.
The employee requirement for individualized support will continue to transform the People/HR function in 2023. Companies will invest in their people by partnering with providers who can deliver a comprehensive, custom learning experience for their employees. L&D will continue to be a must-have for increasing employee retention and engagement, but with much higher success in this new format.
4. HR professionals will navigate the era of radical transparency with intention.
Employees are demanding increased transparency as they prioritize values alignment, navigate economic uncertainty, and seek assurances that they’re working for an organization they can be proud of. HR professionals often want to be transparent with their people, but what you can share is greatly limited by laws, regulations, and the executives you work for. Striking the right balance will be a key challenge in 2023.
Have open discussions with your leadership team about the conversations you are and are not willing to have beyond the business metrics, and share this with your people. Know the reasons behind why you’re doing what you’re doing, and be prepared to message that in a way that’s motivating and builds trust.
More on why this trend matters and a prediction from Meredith Haberfeld, CEO at ThinkHuman.
The call for inclusion is a call of the time. For the first time in decades, people are having real discussions about racism and other “isms” (ableism, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, islamophobia, ageism, classism, etc). We’re realizing it’s insufficient to not be overtly oppressive to marginalized groups; that we need to be actively inclusive to shift a world that was not built to work for or include everyone.
Shifting the tides takes work at the systemic, organizational, and individual level.
As individual leaders, we each have a sphere of influence. We have the opportunity to set the tone and model behavior to create an environment where each person feels respected, seen, able to contribute, and valued for that contribution.
To be the best we can be as individuals and leaders, we need to consistently challenge ourselves with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and to continue building the capacity to have difficult conversations.
The Five “BE’s” can act as a compass on your inclusive leadership journey:
- Be Brave
- Be Creative––Shifting “like me” Scenarios
- Be Receptive to Feedback
- Be an Active Co-Conspirator
- Be Respectful Of Boundaries
As you encounter new situations, you can return to these five “BE’s” and they’ll act as a useful filter for how to navigate what are sometimes complex situations. When used as a filter, they give rise to new actions and support your ongoing growth as an inclusive leader.
5. Companies will get honest about hybrid work and flexibility not being where it needs to be.
Hybrid work may be here to stay—but it’s far from its ideal version. A June 2022 Gallup poll found that the respondents top three challenges facing hybrid workers are reduced access to resources and equipment, weakened connection to their organization's culture, and less collaboration with their team.
Just as the shift to fully remote work in 2020 felt chaotic at the time, the transition to a hybrid model is a work in progress, too. Now that companies have tested it out in 2021 and 2022, the coming year will see employers continue to get clear on why they want employees back in the office and how that’s benefiting their workforce and bottom line.
There are still some tough conversations that need to be had. While the debate about where we work might be intellectual for some, it has very real, lasting impacts for others. Research shows that the outcome of this conversation disproportionately impacts people from marginalized communities who, for various reasons (such as fear of discrimination or difficulties due to disabilities), do not want to work on-site. It’s critical that leaders go into these conversations with open ears and eyes—seeking input from all communities within their workplace.
More on why this trend matters and a prediction from workplace experts at Namely.
It’s been three years since COVID-19 first hit, and employees across the country still want to work remotely. Whether it’s because they don’t have to commute or can work flexible hours, 59 percent of employees are more likely to choose a remote-first employer.
Looking ahead into 2023, companies that don’t offer remote work in some capacity will be at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for top talent. Whether it’s implementing a hybrid workplace model or fully embracing WFA, remote work policies will continue to have a major impact when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.