The workplace trends we witness today have irreversibly changed nearly three years on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in the face of strong economic headwinds and ongoing geopolitical disruptions, it’s clear that the new status quo is not static.
As we enter a new year, new approaches to work and retention, as well as technological changes like the increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced data analytics, will drive continued changes to the most prevalent workplace trends.
Workplace Trends in 2023
If the last few years are any guide, 2023 is likely to hold its share of surprises when it comes to workplace trends. Here’s what we already know to look out for in the year ahead.
1. Ongoing Hiring and Retention Challenges
While the peak of the so-called “Great Resignation” is likely well behind us, workers in the U.S. continue to leave their jobs at higher-than-usual rates. In October 2022, 4 million Americans quit their jobs, leaving 10.3 million positions open. The gap between the number of people seeking work and the number of open roles remains wide, meaning that effective hiring and employee retention tactics remain highly important.
The fact that this trend has persisted well past the end of most COVID restrictions and into a more challenging economic environment points to a deeper set of drivers behind employees’ choices. The World Economic Forum notes that the problem is especially acute in lower-paying jobs and industries, in part because employees are no longer willing to accept many of the conditions that were standard before the pandemic.
Turnover also remains high in professional and managerial positions, where a lack of advancement opportunities is often a key motivator for departing employees. Investing in employee development programs, like upskilling and reskilling initiatives, can help companies improve their staffing levels in 2023.
2. A Focus on Flexibility
Remote work is no longer a pandemic-driven necessity—but as companies enter 2023, many will continue to experiment with different forms of remote and hybrid working – or at least some flexibility. A new survey by Omdia found that 48% of the workforce will continue to work remotely or in a hybrid fashion, though questions about the future of work remain. While 54% of Omdia’s survey respondents believe work-from-home has increased productivity, companies like Tesla have made news for requiring all employees to return to the office.
As employers and employees test a range of approaches to hybrid and remote work, companies will need to take employee feedback and concerns into careful consideration to avoid retention backlash. With demand high for remote positions, flexible work policies may also offer a strong recruitment tool for organizations.
3. Prioritization of Employee Well-Being
Companies have increasingly been focusing on work-life balance and the mental health of employees—and this will continue as one of the key workplace trends of 2023. According to Indeed research, 90% of people believe that how we feel at work matters, yet only 49% feel their organization is focused on measuring and improving well-being.
Since work stress and concerns around benefits and flexibility are frequent drivers of turnover, focusing on employee well-being can have significant payoffs for companies. Efforts to prioritize employees’ happiness and health can include providing additional employee benefits, greater flexibility, sign-on bonuses, and an overall positive workplace experience.
Companies have increasingly been focusing on work-life balance and the mental health of employees—and this will continue into 2023.
4. Talent Shortages and Widening Skills Gaps
Hiring is already difficult in this labor market—but many organizations are also challenged by severe talent shortages in critical areas. According to the Manpower Group, around three-quarters of companies in industries ranging from construction to tech are having a hard time finding qualified applicants for certain positions.
Perhaps even more worryingly, LinkedIn recently found that nearly half of learning and development leaders say that skills gaps in their organizations are widening rather than growing smaller. To address these shortages, savvy companies will work to broaden and improve their upskilling and reskilling efforts in 2023.
5. A Continued Focus on Skills Over Jobs
Historically, many employees remained in fairly similar roles for their entire careers. Today, the pace of technological and economic change means the average worker might need to frequently reskill and upskill, and even change jobs, to preserve their opportunities for growth and advancement.
Hiring, in this environment, should be focused on what specific skills employees bring to the table rather than their previous roles. Many of the most valuable skills in today’s economy, like data analysis, can be applied to a number of different roles. In 2023, more companies are likely to look to alternative credential programs like short courses or certificates when hiring and to increase their spending on in-house upskilling efforts.
Leaders recognize that focusing on upskilling employees and career pathing can help their organizations close skills gaps. This means using a whole new set of tools to identify individual skill sets as opposed to more traditional job grading. Skills development can help organizations meet their most urgent business needs—and skills can be measured using what is referred to as “skill data.”
Check out the graphic below to see how Emeritus programs have helped past learners narrow skills gaps in their organizations, based on data from the 2022 Emeritus Global Career Impact Survey.
6. Renewed Focus on Sustainability
In a recent Gartner survey, more companies than ever before cited sustainability as a key focus for the year ahead. While the specifics of how companies approach and prioritize environmental and sustainability issues will vary depending on industry, company size, and numerous other factors, increased consumer and shareholder demand is driving a significant shift toward green business practices.
For many organizations, embracing new sustainability efforts will also require investment in employee upskilling to help executives and frontline employees alike make strategic and everyday decisions that improve their company’s environmental footprint.
7. Emphasis on Soft Skills
Soft skills, also referred to as “power skills,” were important before the pandemic. But the need to build relationships virtually and work with reduced oversight has made soft skills in the workplace even more important.
Among the soft skills that are in particularly high demand are management and leadership in a changing workplace, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. As 2023 progresses, companies will reassess their leadership models and the skills leaders need to succeed in their roles.
8. Increased Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Efforts
As we enter 2023, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts remain top of mind for many organizations. That commitment is essential for employee engagement and recruiting since a recent GoodHire survey found that 81% of respondents would seriously consider quitting their jobs if the company failed to demonstrate a true commitment to DEI.
In addition to potential turnover issues, failing to prioritize DEI can lead to major financial losses. Accenture has found that companies are losing over a trillion dollars a year due to their lack of DEI efforts. Companies that boost their investments in this area in 2023—and who use metrics and KPIs to track progress—will lay the groundwork for positive employee relations and outcomes for years to come.
9. Greater Use of AI and Automation
The emergence of ChatGPT, an advanced AI tool available to the public, has raised public awareness of the importance and rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI)—but in many corporations, AI has been a pressing concern for years. Along with automation technology, AI offers numerous growth opportunities for companies, if they’re prepared to take them on.
As AI and automation unlock new opportunities in the workplace, companies will need to invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees to work with these technologies.
10. An Emphasis on Strategic Transformation
As we transition into 2023, organizations are accelerating strategic digital transformation efforts to reimagine and reconfigure how they operate. In part, innovations in automation and the adoption of new technologies are prompting the change, as is a greater need for strategic thinking around data analytics, sustainability, marketing, and leadership.
Companies launch transformations in response to significant pressures from the market, and these changes may involve pivoting services, products, and offerings to realign how they function. In fact, Emeritus recently launched its new skills transformation academies solution to drive skills development for companies planning transformations.
11. Transformation of HR Using Tech and Data
Going into 2023, more organizations are transforming their human resources departments as they leverage data analytics in direct sourcing and talent acquisition. HR workers can also use data to find out why employees are leaving their organizations and stem turnover. People analytics, or insights derived from data related to workforce talent, are helping employers uncover important information about organization-wide performance and employees’ individual needs.
When it comes to tech, companies are turning to cloud computing, collaboration technologies, and digitization to improve HR operations and the employee experience, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
12. An Emphasis on Continued Employee Growth
As more leaders prioritize upskilling and reskilling in the workplace, they’re aiming to embed a growth mindset into their organization’s culture. A growth mindset stems from the belief that you have the capacity to learn and grow. This contrasts with a fixed mindset—a belief that certain qualities of an individual (like talent or intelligence) are innate.
Two examples of companies that have made organization-wide growth mindsets high priorities are Microsoft and Unilever. In 2023 overall, establishing a culture of learning with organizations will become even more important to closing skills gaps.
As the world of work continues to evolve in 2023, it’s impossible to accurately predict how changing economic and business trends might impact workplace priorities and trends. But it’s clear the pandemic (among other factors) has spurred workforce transformation at a rapid pace, and employers need to keep up with skills development more than ever before.
As these workplace trends emerge, upskill and reskill your workforce to meet the needs of businesses today. Learn more about Emeritus Enterprise and how we can help you develop online employee training programs for your team.