In the last four years, much has happened to all of us, both, personally and professionally. If the year 2020 was a mandatory pause and reflection, 2021 was about resilience and survival, and 2022 was about pivoting and navigating the reimagined realities. This year, when the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, most of us seem to be changing gears, consolidating, redefining, and transitioning on many fronts – the work, the workforce, and even the functions we lead or manage.
Whether it is Finance, IT, HR, or any other business function, our roles, responsibilities, challenges, and priorities have evolved radically over these last few years. Some things went completely awry and then back to “normal” after the pandemic. Other things (good or bad) have changed forever. The influx of generative AI tools and platforms and game-changing data analytics capabilities have led to a world of new possibilities in all aspects of running and managing businesses. My fellow HR professionals will agree that this is likely one of the most exciting times in our careers; a time where we can re-strategize and reshape the future of work, in keeping with the top trends in HR in 2023 and beyond.
Here are the top trends that are reshaping reshaping work, workplace and workforce in 2023.
Redefining organisational purpose
After what we have survived over the last three years, there is almost an inorganic need to question and reimagine everything we thought we knew. Hence, it is not surprising that many organisations are looking at their business models and value propositions with a microscopic lens, gathering a renewed understanding of why they exist and where they are headed.
Adopting sustainability and flexibility
One area that businesses across size, sector and geography are actively tracking is AI-based interventions that are disrupting the traditional HR tech marketplace with many successful use cases. Whether it is eliminating biases in the hiring processes, bettering the candidate experiences, or improving cognitive decision-making for HR professionals, AI will play a critical role in supporting a wide range of HR programs and employee initiatives. This means it may become imperative to befriend AI-led tools that empower the HR tech stack, instead of fearing, ignoring, or rejecting them.
Fostering a continuous learning mindset
Rapid developments in technology and automation, along with hybrid work arrangements are also demanding a continuous learning mindset, shining the spotlight on the soft skills development of our workforce. For example, employees familiar with virtual collaboration tools may still need support in honing their social skills for managing teams and building meaningful connections in a virtual/ semi-virtual environment. We may also need to focus on developing agility and adaptability skills to encourage a learning mindset towards new tools and technologies, or creative communication skills that are respectful towards our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) efforts. But the key will be in making learning easy. In the age of OTT platforms, our learning strategies will need to think in terms of quick bytes versus lengthy training modules.
Embracing non-linear career paths
Another vital aspect of amplifying that learning mindset and enabling continuous skill and knowledge upgrades is providing talent with exposure to diverse roles and experiences. In this context, individuals keen to keep up with modern technologies and remain relevant in the talent market are driving fast-paced and unconventional career moves - across roles, functions, and even industries. Essentially, enabling such non-linear career paths will become front and centre in talent strategies for building and retaining a highly engaged and multi-skilled workforce.
Finding meaning by belonging to a “community”
While workplace culture and leadership behaviours are certainly critical in creating a sense of belonging, factors, such as DE&I and employee well-being have also become extremely important for individuals who wish to bring their authentic selves to work, and share thoughts and ideas, without the fear of being judged or rejected. A recent employee experience trends study found that a “sense of belonging” was the top driver of employee engagement, which in turn drives up organizational productivity and profitability.
Providing flexibility at the workplace
Work from home, work from anywhere, 4-day work weeks, or complete flexible hours, by now, most businesses have adopted virtual or flexible working arrangements in some shape or form. While some benefited from increased employee satisfaction and cost savings and chose to remain on this path, many others are exploring how to achieve a truly collaborative and productive flexible work model, that is not just employee-centric, but also beneficial to the organization. I believe this will be one of the most interesting and intricate problems that HR, finance and IT professionals will focus on in the next few years. But it will not be about just the “where” of the workplace, it will also be about “how” we approach work. It will be about how to bring that casual and informal “offsite” feeling “onsite”. It will also be about upskilling and capability building to enable this approach to work.
Managing people and people functions amidst the above HR and workforce trends requires game-changing strategies. Besides investing in digital technology and relying on AI tools, we must know how to interpret data for building human-centric programs and change management initiatives, and most importantly, how to humanize that change.