While 2022 may have a return to some semblance of normality, it’s still remained a challenging time for HR and employees. The combined impact of the cost-of-living crisis, impending recession, and ongoing talent shortages, has both shifted priorities and created new demands.
Unlike challenging economic times that have gone before, however, 2023 will see an increased focus on the employee experience as organisations seek to fill skills gaps, retain talent, and drive performance. There may be a recession, but there will be no rolling back on people culture and performance enablement (at least not for the organisations that recognise these to be the foundation for success).
So what can we expect to see from HR next year? Here’s five people-focused trends that will feature high on the agenda:
1) Personal and career development
2023 will be the year when HR doubles down on both personal and career development. There will be more emphasis on developing employees in line with their unique needs and wants and we’ll also see more employers enabling people to learn in a way that works for them. That could mean bitesize learning on the job, classroom training, or a blended approach.
Communication – and particularly conversations between managers and employees – will play a big role in how well companies achieve this. Crucially, development will feature as a key aspect of these one-to-ones as managers look to support employee learning by working with individuals to identify the right training and track ongoing progress. Embedding the requisite culture, supported by the right technologies, will therefore be key to unlocking the goal of employee-specific development at scale.
2) Flexible working (as defined by the employee)
Before the pandemic, flexible working meant flexi-hours or working from home once or twice a week. Needless to say, we’re now fully immersed in the world of hybrid work yet the definition of flexible working will continue to broaden in scope – and that’s a good thing.
With employers still struggling to fill vacancies, we’ll see organisations offering prospective talent – and existing employees – even more autonomy on where, when, and even how they work. In many cases, this will be made possible by new technologies that are affording more flexibility and options to work outside of the traditional office or job-site setting.
More than anything, organisations that are able to act on this will give themselves a key advantage when it comes to hiring and retaining the best talent – and because of this, autonomous working will be central to the core strategies that HR deploys in 2023.
3) Coaching as an employee expectation
The benefits of continuous coaching are well-documented yet for many organisations, it still presents an untapped opportunity to drive intrinsic motivation and high performance. The pandemic has certainly played a preventative role but as HR emerges from that chaotic period, there will be more time to act on employees’ growing expectations for continuous coaching and development.
As part of this, there will be more internal communication around the benefits of regular coaching. We’ll also see HR working to upskill managers and procure the right tools for success. Soft skills training, in particular, will remain a key focus as the transition from manager to coach gathers speed.
4) An individualised approach to inclusivity
A welcome by-product of this rise in continuous coaching will be greater inclusivity at work. This will go beyond inclusivity as a corporate strategy to something even more transformative: inclusivity as it pertains to the individual employee. To support this, organisations must facilitate effective conversations that enable employees to communicate what matters to them most as well as what support they need from their manager and team in order to reach their full potential.
The value to be gained from enabling conversations that cover a breadth of content beyond just performance is widely understood by the majority but 2023 will be the year when this goes mainstream. That points to better inclusivity for all and it’s a hugely positive step forward.
5) The manager as the pillar of employee experience
Pervading of all these trends will be a renewed focus on the manager. During the past three years, HR has been forced to work reactively and employees naturally became the prime focal point. While that’s understandable, the fact remains that managers also need to feel cared for and developed – and especially if they are to keep supporting their employees whilst avoiding burnout themselves. In recognition of this, we’ll see HR teams directing more attention towards manager L&D, wellbeing, and work-life balance to help this crucial demographic to thrive in their role as an individual, and as the pillar of employee experience.
As part of this we’ll see more training, more emphasis on the value of meaningful conversations and purpose-driven work, and most importantly, growing recognition that human experiences – for all people, at all levels of the organisation – sit at the heart of performance success.