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Maddy Christopher

HRZone

Deputy Editor

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2023 predictions from HRZone’s top ranking writers

It's time to dust off the crystal ball and consider what 2023 will hold for HR professionals as our top writers reveal their key predictions for this year.
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The truth is, no matter the obstacles we will face this year, we all have the power to shape and steer our own journey ahead. All we need to do is realise how resilient we are, ground down and make the internal decision to take the leading role in our own experiences. It’s time for HR to take back the power and steer the ship.

That being said, it is always helpful to have a few helpful pointers along the way.

HRZone’s wisest of writers, most proficient mystic megs – *ahem* most read writers of 2022 – have joined forces to come up with key predictions for the year, along with supporting advice for HR professionals on areas to focus on.

2023 will be the year of Recalibration.

Perry Timms, Chief Energy Officer, People & Transformational HR Ltd

Whether it’s flexible working; reward; performance measures; Employee Representative Groups or even what our purpose is, after years of convulsive shocks, 2023 will be the year we can and should recalibrate.

Not a reset, but a strong and systemic recalibration of the operating model, stakeholder expectations, performance measures and attention to what matters most to people, will be the big need for HR in order to navigate continued turbulence and uncertainty.

HR will need to be supportive when it comes to the knock-on effects of world conflict

Kate Palmer FCIPD, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula UK

Sadly, the Russia/Ukraine war shows no signs of slowing, so employees will be troubled by what’s going on in the news. Even those without direct links will no doubt be impacted, as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis that is affecting the prices of energy, petrol, food, and more.

With the threat of a recession, many will struggle throughout 2023 as inflation and ever-increasing costs put pressure on household incomes. As such, employers should ensure there is wider support in place to facilitate positive emotional and financial wellbeing through policies, access to employee assistance programmes and mental health first aiders, and where feasible, enhanced benefits or remuneration.

More ingenuity will be required as the risk to employee wellbeing will be higher than ever

Emma Parry, Professor of HRM and Head of the Changing World of Work Group, Cranfield School of Management

Mental health problems are growing and ongoing stresses from the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and an impending recession can only make this worse. Increasing pressure on employers to cut costs might tempt them to drop employee wellbeing activities, but never have these been more crucial.

We are likely to need more targeted wellbeing efforts in 2023. Employers should take the time to survey or at least talk to their employees to find out where they can best provide support. A focus on developing financial wellbeing is a no-brainer.

In addition, with growing numbers of people becoming economically inactive due to long-term health conditions, helping people to manage their physical wellbeing and supporting them to stay in work will be important to both maintain psychological health, and retain valued employees.

Cultural Intelligence will enable interactions not previously occurring organically to further organisation belonging

Thom Dennis, CEO of Serenity in Leadership

Cultural Intelligence (CQ) really helps people talk – to converse about their ideas, values and beliefs and as such it helps to mitigate polarization. We don’t have to agree on ideologies, but must truly respect the opinions of others and be open to learning from them. This is being truly inclusive.

We can help find commonalities, bridge differences, and bring extremes closer together for harmonious (personal and professional) relationships. In 2023, CQ will be that conduit to enable people to talk to those they would not necessarily ordinarily approach and help them to feel they belong in a world which is still unfortunately divided, adversarial and focused on ego and self-embellishment.

Organisations will prioritise and implement initiatives to improve employee financial wellbeing

Alex Hattingh (Loder), Chief People Officer, Employment Hero

With rising inflation having an impact on all aspects of our financial health and personal lives, financial wellbeing will be more important than ever for employees in 2023.

Implementing an effective financial wellbeing programme can be helpful to your workforce, including such things as connecting employees to free (and informed) financial advice, matching pension contributions, flexible working arrangements to reduce travel costs, or even offering discounted gym memberships.

Improving the financial wellbeing of your employees will lead to a more productive and happy workforce.

Female health concerns will be an important role in 2023

Francesca Steyn, Director of Fertility Services, Peppy

Tailored initiatives to support female health concerns, such as menstruation or symptoms related to PCOS and endometriosis will be on every business radar in 2023. Menstruation affects employee health and wellbeing, short-term sickness and long-term absence, along with staff engagement and productivity.

Almost a quarter of women have taken time off work because of their period in the last six months, but more than a third lie about the real reason for their absence.

Normalising the conversation about periods at work will be the single most important step employers can take in 2023 if they want to provide support, along with implementing practical changes that make a meaningful difference.

DEIB work will have a more profound impact on both employees and employers

Diane Lightfoot, CEO of Business Disability Forum

I hope to see a shift to a more inclusive approach to work that meets both individual and business needs. We need to find the sweet spot in balancing individual and collective preferences; enabling employees to work in a way that suits them, and also meets business needs.

Employers will need to be prepared to have confident, open conversations, be willing to try things out, listen and make changes to remove barriers where they arise. It will take trial and error. But the pay-off will be worth it, enabling both employee and employer to thrive.

The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) will be designed almost entirely around wellbeing

Gethin Nadin, Award-winning Psychologist and Chief Innovation Officer, Benefex

As we enter 2023, I think we will see the EVP as we know it rebuilt to focus on employee wellbeing. Rather than be designed around the financial renumeration an employee gets in exchange for the work they do, we will see a widespread commitment from employers to set their EVP stall out as “come and work here and we will take care of you when you need it”.

For anyone who has needed, and got the support of their employer at a difficult time in their lives, this approach drives loyalty and engagement more than almost anything else an employer can do.

Business-led HR will become even more important in 2023

Deborah Wilkes FCIPD, MD of enable-hr

I sense a new energy rising within HR, and research tells us that organisations’ expectations of HR are rising too. Many in HR are capitalising on their achievements and enjoying new levels of influence. That influence comes from being seen to deliver what the business needs, and in 2023 HR can maintain that clarity and pace.

So, my trend prediction is one that HR can drive: closer partnering with business leaders, business-led HR strategic planning, and getting into the room when leaders are developing their thinking about the future. That’s how HR gets involved in key decisions – and that’s good for everyone.

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Maddy Christopher

Deputy Editor

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