After three years of instability and upheaval, it’s understandable why leaders and HR professionals would feel a need to tiptoe cautiously into 2023. But even with uncertainty still hovering in the air, some trends in business can help organizations approach the coming months in a proactive, positive way that improves business and people results.
Here are six trends to help you shape a successful year for your business and your people.
1. A FOCUS ON CAREER DEVELOPMENT
More and more organizations recognize the value of career development and internal mobility for their employees. “I have heard that in every conversation I have had with clients this last month,” says Tim Davisson, Director, Business Development and Executive Consultant. “I think it has something to do with the Great Reshuffle. It’s connected to the employee value proposition we talk about.”
Career development is tied to “internal mobility as a way to support some workforce challenges,” says Taura Prosek, Director, Business Development and Executive Coach. “When organizations give their people a wide range of ways to develop their skills and move around within the company, team members are more likely to stay. That means companies are less likely to suffer from staffing shortages or struggle to find the right people for open positions.”
2. HYBRID AND REMOTE WORK EVOLUTION CONTINUES
As companies continue to face the realities of an increasingly remote and hybrid workforce, the evolution around this new workplace model will remain a top priority for leadership. “Leaders have to do more than just face hybrid work as a new fact of the workplace,” says Daniel Stewart, President. “It’s about how to create retention, engagement, and culture around it,” he says. Leaders and team members must “be able to understand tasks and have conversations around” the best way to accomplish those tasks.
It's become clear that many team members expect to have hybrid and remote work options available going forward, and companies need to make conscious decisions about what those models look like. As leaders discuss formal remote and hybrid policies, including everyone in those conversations will help arrive at the best solutions for the company and the employees.
3. BALANCING COST CUTTING WITH PEOPLE BUILDING
2023 started with multiple stories of layoffs in the tech industry; those layoffs have now spread to other industries as well, with companies in finance, manufacturing, and retail all announcing layoffs in January.
“I think the question about all these mass layoffs is, ‘Is this really strategic thinking and planning, or is it a short-term fix?’” says Erin Ellis, Executive Consultant, and Coach. When organizations are under pressure to reduce costs, the short-term fix might look like cutting staff. While it may be true that some staffing cuts are necessary, companies need to make sure those cuts are consistent with long-term strategies and plans. Most importantly, cost-cutting should not get in the way of developing leaders who can meet the challenges of new workplace realities. Companies will need to learn to balance both.
4. EMPHASIS ON CONVERSATIONS AND EMPATHY
As leaders look at the results of the Great Resignation and the Great Reshuffle; they will need to ask themselves how to engage employees across the employee lifecycle better, which means a greater focus on conversational skills. “Leaders and managers need to be able to have conversations on significant topics as team members progress through their careers,” says Stewart. “They need to be able to have conversations in inclusive ways and be able to understand their own biases.”
The last few years have been disruptive for everyone, and at the same time, the hybrid workspace makes conversations even more difficult. “It comes down to developing that muscle of empathy for your employees as part of your culture,” says Davisson.
5. RAPID EVOLUTION OF DEI
While conversations around inclusiveness and belonging will continue to be prevalent, Davisson sees a shift in focus from specific topics toward conversations around understanding others. “Things like Black History Month and Pride Month will still be part of the DEI umbrella, but I think we won’t approach it in the way of bias anymore,” he says. “It’ll be more of conversations around understanding others and how to develop the muscle of understanding.”
“I think the DEI space will continue to evolve rapidly because it is so new,” he continues. “We’re all just trying to figure out the current state of DEI post-pandemic.” Much of the conversation will be around belonging as a central outcome within teams and organizations. Creating safe and empowering teams will be a hallmark of workplaces that retain their people.
6. A GREAT REBALANCING
A recent Wall Street Journal piece suggests that organizations will experience a rebalance after the recent years of resignations, quiet quitting, and reshuffling. “The interesting question for organizations is, ‘Where do you think the power balance lies now in your organization?’” says David Thurston, Director, Business Development and Executive Consultant. “And even more importantly, ‘Is there anything you want to do about this?’”
He suggests that organizations need to decide whether to be reactive to external environments or approach the business and market with a set of objectives about what to achieve with people and culture within the company. “That can be both the positive things you offer and some of the expectations you have for people,” he says.
While no one can say for certain what extraordinary, atypical, or unusual events await in 2023, there’s no doubt that leaders have a great opportunity to improve the employee experience over the coming year. Make 2023 the year you build a good foundation and strong connections between leadership and employees and set the stage for a great remainder of the 2020s.
- What is one trend you see coming in 2023? Do you have a proactive plan to address it?
- What is one way you can engage in better conversations with your team?
- What is one way you can improve career development in your organization?