Socioeconomic and behavioral changes related to the pandemic, such as economic uncertainty, the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, showed that striking a balance between business needs and employee expectations was imperative for employers.
But the effects of the pandemic continue to pose challenges for employers. The way that employees work – including where, when, why and with whom – is still evolving at a brisk pace.
In contrast to 2022, in which employers and employees adapted to the “new normal” post-pandemic, 2023 will see new shifts in the workplace. Hybrid work arrangements, mass tech layoffs, persistent inflation and continued talks of recession have brought about their own set of workplace challenges.
For businesses, it’s key to anticipate the workplace shifts these challenges may spark. Doing so gives both employers and employees time to strategize accordingly.
Below we review five rising trends set to reshape the workplace in 2023.
Hybrid work will continue to be the new normal
A recent report suggests that by 2025, over 75% of workers will demand hybrid or remote work.
After experiencing the flexibility and openness of remote work, the majority of employees do not want to feel confined to their workstations for eight hours every day. For many, shorter commutes and more flexible hours outweigh the benefits of an exclusively in-person office, such as water cooler conversations and work-life balance.
Post-pandemic, employees aren’t ready to compromise on the elements they see as enhancing their quality of life. This means businesses are still under pressure to adopt hybrid work environments, giving employees the freedom of remote work that they value while still offering in-person collaboration opportunities.
According to a McKinsey survey of 100 executives across industries and geographies, 9 out of 10 organizations will combine remote and on-site work beyond the pandemic. Employers seemingly recognize they must prioritize employees’ preferences because rigid work settings may be a deal-breaker.
A related challenge is that businesses may wish to measure employee productivity outside the office through remote monitoring software known as bossware, which can compromise employee trust. This calls for the need to find ways to collaborate and create processes suited for hybrid work but without infringing on privacy.
Benefits will play a key role in hiring strategy
Holistic benefits have become an even more important component of remuneration packages as hiring challenges remain, partly as a result of the declining working-age population. These benefits give employers a means to stand out from the competition.
According to a recent study conducted by Talent.com, for 60% of U.S. job seekers, benefits are an important element, second only to salary.
In order to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market, 2023 will see organizations expanding their benefits portfolio for job seekers. Once-unconventional new benefits like access to financial wellness programs, fertility treatments and pet insurance will become more commonplace.
Additionally, as more states have started implementing pay transparency laws, benefits will become more important as a negotiation tool for job seekers.
The pay transparency movement will continue to grow
In an effort to eliminate wage inequities and offer employees and job seekers greater negotiating power, on Jan. 1, 2023, three states — California, Rhode Island, and Washington — enacted new or expanded salary transparency laws, joining an array of other states and cities with such laws.
Pay transparency laws vary by locality. In New York City, for example, all job postings for positions that will or might be filled (including those that can be performed in the field or remotely from the city) must include a salary range.
As more pay transparency laws crop up across the nation, job seekers are apt to push for pay transparency even in states or cities where such laws aren’t in effect. Indeed, “[p]ay transparency laws seem to be the way of the future,” according to Kelly Cardin of employment law firm Ogletree Deakins.
Upskilling and leadership investment will be a focus area
Opportunities for upskilling will emerge as a major retention tactic in 2023. With a possible recession looming, showcasing the intention to foster employee growth and development will help businesses retain talent.
Businesses that lack key skills will start investing in leadership by implementing development programs, allowing them to benefit from building more competent teams while also offering employees the ability to upskill.
Apart from upskilling and leadership investments, developing soft skills will continue to be important for business success. Interpersonal, time management, decision-making and teamwork skills development should be prioritized to maximize employees’ value and contributions.
Economic uncertainty will demand more attention to mental health
Building a healthy and secure workplace culture is even more important for businesses today, given that employees are still grappling with fallout from the pandemic and are worried about job security in the economic downturn. This means employee mental health is perhaps the most important benefit area for businesses to focus on.
While the pandemic prompted many businesses to offer better wellness benefits, such as access to personal coaches and therapists, economic uncertainty is further straining employee mental health. In response, employers should offer employees continued access to resources that support their mental health.
Employees’ perception of the “ideal employer” is changing, spurring a renewed focus on hybrid arrangements, holistic benefits, pay transparency, upskilling and mental health. Meanwhile, employers are also pursuing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts – not to mention learning to address the needs of an increasingly multigenerational workforce. To keep up, businesses are best served by continuing to consider their employees’ perspectives.
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