It's Nearly 2023, What Should we be Worrying About?
With a tired 2022 staggering over the line, what does the next 12 months hold in store for companies looking to attract and retain the best talent in an ever-changing employment landscape?..
As we near the end of a difficult year that has seen doubt, insecurity and fear impacting on the working lives of both employees and business leaders, what then should we expect to see in 2023?
Optimism has been in short supply over the last few years, riven by the pandemic, domestic and world events, ineptitude at the highest levels and a continuous re-evaluation of workplace expectations.
Confidence in the once familiar declaration that “it can’t be any worse than this year”, has dwindled. Turns out it very much can be worse than the previous year and, arguably it has turned out to be the case for most of the last few.
So, as another bad year turns into another new year, in an environment facing all sorts of pressure both internal and external, what approach do organisations take to acquiring new talent and keeping (and engaging) that which it already has?
Surveys from the likes of engagement specialist, Lattice say that 2023 will be more about talent retention than acquisition. As the recession bites, job security rather than job satisfaction has become an important determination. But still, according to employee benefits provider, Unum UK nearly one fifth of the workers it surveyed (19%) said they plan to look for new jobs next year with higher salaries or better employee benefits. So, employee retention remains challenging.
Caitlin Kamm, Head of People Growth at workplace solutions company, Envoy says it will be paramount for her organisation in 2023: “Here’s where I anticipate putting in the work - empathetic leadership. Given that we are entering a time of serious uncertainty and drastic change in the tech industry, an effective leadership style will incorporate elements of listening, supporting, and empathizing.
“Much of the tech workforce has not seen a down economy like the one we are entering, so showing as much empathy as possible for those who are unfamiliar with and challenged by these times will not only be needed for retention but will also probably be the expectation.
“Transparency. With pay transparency reform, more companies may trend toward more transparency and communicating more data and rationale behind key decisions. At the very least, companies will need to decide where they stand on the transparency spectrum when they share important information that impacts their employee base.
“Double down on culture. Band together around company culture and community to keep employees feeling engaged and having a sense of belonging in what might feel like a tumultuous time. We don't want employees to feel alone in this and are very focused on leveraging our ERGs to bring inclusion to our workplace community, as well as highlighting culturally significant events to fuel employee's sense of togetherness and belonging at Envoy.
“A top challenge in 2023 will be helping people cope with uncertainty, which will make decision-making and planning a lot more challenging. But the silver lining for us in 2022 was that we identified those non-negotiable elements that we value in our employee's experience and can continue to replicate that into 2023.”
Natasha Maddock, co-founder of Events Made Simple, agrees that holding on to existing hires is going to be key: “Whilst some companies are still looking to bring in new staff, the mad rush to recruit from earlier in the year seems to have subsided with hiring decisions appearing to be more considered and retention taking a greater focus. Looking ahead to 2023, we believe that company culture and, in particular the option for flexible working will continue to play a key role in helping businesses to attract and retain talent.”
Challenging times for employers
Not only is the cost of living making employees think twice about moving on to pastures new, but many are taking up additional paid positions to generate extra income.
“With the current and forecasted economic climate, more employers may be open to part-time work and job-sharing positions,” says Erin Dertouzos, vice president of people strategy at StrongDM.
“Instead of reaching for contractors, employers with an eye toward diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging, have an opportunity to invest in someone with potential that they otherwise might have overlooked. Also, for workers who had to take time off for personal reasons, health reasons or to take care of family members, this is an opportunity for them to enter back into the work field and explore new prospects.”
Consistency with a degree of flexibility in line with the over-arching proposition is key to an employer brand if it is to meet the developing demands from workers and keep them engaged and onside. In turbulent times, such as now, a well-developed employer brand acts as a useful compass for management and employees to successfully navigate difficulties such as pay and conditions, which are starting to dominate the conversation.
“I think we will see more unionizing from workers,” adds Dertouzos. “If employees felt respected and heard, they wouldn’t feel the need to go that route. These are things that management has a lot of control over if they're treating their teams with respect, dignity, and transparency. This trend will continue and hopefully open the eyes of leadership to look at their management style, goal setting and trust issues. I hope in 2023, leaders will remember that when you treat people well, you will have a workforce who have all the reasons to lean in, work hard and be proud of their impact on the business.”
Laura Mills, Head of Early Career Insights at Forage, believes that while there may still be an ongoing conversation over working from home against returning to office, employers that are prepared to bend on the matter, will have an advantage in the race for talent.
“Open hybrid or remote roles will undoubtedly see the most applicants for the foreseeable future,” she says. “Talent teams who create a streamlined interview process, engage with candidates post-offer, and incorporate hybrid or remote work are likely to improve or maintain their retention rates.
“The best brand ambassadors a company has are happy employees. Leaning into your current workforce to help spread the word and make referrals to current openings is a smart way to leverage positive brand and help amplify your brand to prospective employees."
Purpose-aligned organisations, meanwhile, will continue to have an advantage when it comes to attraction and engagement, but they too will need to continually evaluate and assess how they fit into a changing situation. Economic reality is biting hard for everyone.
“Social responsibility and justice will continue to permeate the corporate dialogue and create more complexity in 2023 and beyond,” comments Karen Price, Senior Director of Organizational Effectiveness at Progress. “Organizations will need to push themselves to break boundaries based on what their workforce wants.”
Predictions are often a fool’s errand, and all bets are off as to what the next jarring event might be. Organisations with a strong and consistent offering based on research-based employee research will always be ahead of the competition.