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Becky Norman


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HRZone’s 15 most popular articles of 2023

Which issues mattered most to your HR peers in 2023?

It’s my favourite time of the year…when we get to review all the articles we published across 2023 and see what captured the attention of our readers.

In previous years, we’ve narrowed down the selection to a top 10, but there were some close contenders with equally high-quality content so we couldn’t resist expanding the list to 15 for 2023.

If you were to close your eyes now and hazard a guess at the themes coming through in our most-read content, I have faith that you’d get a decent chunk of them right. Go on, give it a try…

Yes, you guessed it, our top commentary features the likes of AI, return-to-office mandates, redundancies, employee stress, dysfunctional cultures and unethical leaders (Elon Musk, in particular).

Peruse the list below and catch up on what your people peers have been reading about across the year.

1. Why a return-to-office mandate will not fix productivity and collaboration woes

Apple, Amazon, X and many others (even Zoom) have all been hitting the headlines this year for commanding their workforces to go back to the physical workspace in some capacity. Gethin Nadin, Chief Innovation Officer at Benefex, urges organisations to avoid the trend of mandating a return to the office, as it could do more harm than good. It was our most popular article of the year, but did those reading take heed of Nadin’s warning or jump on Bezos’ bandwagon?

2. Six essential human skills to stay competitive in the age of AI

It’s of no surprise that the buzz around ChatGPT and generative AI this year has rippled into the HR sphere, with many unanswered questions about AI’s impact on work and jobs circulating. Amid this speculation, futurist Bernard Marr highlighted the six critical human skills we must hone, which cannot easily be replicated by AI.

3. Twitter: Elon Musk is running an employee value proposition in reverse

Earlier in the year when X was still Twitter, the then-new owner Elon Musk served up many a red flag of what was to come for the social media platform. His decree that staff would need to “work long hours” and ‘“be hardcore” led to mass resignation (who’d have guessed?). Jessica Brannigan, Chief People Scientist at Culture Amp, likened Musk’s actions to running an employee value proposition in reverse. Going by the popularity of the article, we assume many of you agreed!

Across the political and business sphere, we have witnessed tangible examples of unethical leadership in 2023.

4. Five of the weirdest HR queries from around the world

This was a hard one for you to resist – and we don’t blame you for it. Kate Palmer, director of advice for Peninsula, shared a selection of unexpected HR issues she’s been asked to advise on – from an out-of-hand game of hide and seek to a haunted store.

5. Why you shouldn’t refer to your team as a ‘family’

Fostering a culture of unity and belonging is important for organisations, but some organisations refer to their employees as ‘family’. This is a step too far for culture and leadership expert Deborah Hartung, and she voices five reasons why family dynamics should stay away from the work sphere. Of all the coverage on toxic cultures we have published, we were intrigued to see this was the most-read culture-related piece – perhaps it hit home for many.

6. 12 possible indicators of a dysfunctional workspace

In a similar vein to Hartung’s article, this piece explores the myriad makings of a problematic workplace. Among the 12 indicators, there are both overt signs of toxicity and more insidious characteristics that can cause dysfunction. Our readers couldn’t thwart the urge to check the list, offered up by Thom Dennis, CEO of Serenity in Leadership.

7. How to support mental wellbeing during redundancies

The unrelentingly tough economic climate caused redundancies to heftily rise in 2023, leaving people-first HR professionals worrying about how to navigate the process sensitively and with wellbeing front of mind. Kate Robinson, Chief Clinical Officer of Lumo Health, shared guidance back in March on how to mindfully support both those leaving and those remaining. It’s an unfortunate sign of the times that this one made our list.

We have not one but two redundancy-related articles making our 2023 most popular reads.

8. Four ways HR can reinvent work in 2023

In both 2022 and 2023, Perry Timms, CEO of People and Transformational HR, kick-started the year(s) by positing how HR can reinvent itself and work. On both occasions, his article made our most-read list. We can see why, but did these reinventions take place? Read the article to find out.

9. How to disagree healthily on tricky inclusion topics

With the ongoing rise of cancel culture and our struggle to disagree respectfully and healthily within society, it’s no wonder this article caught our readers’ attention. Joanne Lockwood, CEO of SEE Change Happen Ltd, offered 11 strategies for addressing workplace conflicts related to tricky inclusion-related subjects – and we hope it helped.

10. Three ways ethical leadership can promote culture change

Across the political and business sphere, we have witnessed tangible examples of unethical leadership in 2023. In this article, Karen Liebenguth, leadership coach and mindfulness trainer, urges us not to simply see ethics as a concept, but to embed it within our everyday behaviours. We’re not sure if the ones reading this piece are those who need the advice the most though…

Our readers are gearing up to bolster employee wellbeing for 2024.

11. Beyond restructuring: Eight alternatives to reorganising your people

When something is not working quite right, many organisations jump ahead to the restructuring route without considering the other (less intensive) options available. Does this sound familiar? Garin Rouch and Dani Bacon from Distinction Business Consulting have been supporting HRZone’s goal of bringing insights from organisation design to HR professionals in this content series – and this particular article on restructuring truly resonated.

12. Three signs of stress at work you should not ignore

Stress is plaguing our workplaces so we’d have bet good money on a stress-related article making the list. Nicky Marshall, Director of Discover your Bounce, explored three signs of stress to pay attention to, to mark Stress Awareness Month in April.

13. Your 2024 wellbeing playbook for HR

Our readers are gearing up to bolster employee wellbeing for 2024, that’s for sure. This article from Nick Elston, Founder of Forging People, was published at the end of October 2023 and saw a surge of clicks. We’re impressed, and hopeful that next year wellbeing will be tackled holistically and beyond surface-level.

14. Seven ways to supercharge your employee communications

Following six years of IC audits with Great Western Railways (GWR), Lisa Hawksworth Senior consultant of scarlettabbott, shared seven valuable insights on boosting your employee comms strategy. It’s an area HR cannot afford to get wrong, and our readers lapped up the advice.

15. How should HR at Shell Energy, Asda and Royal Mail navigate the ‘redundancy risk’ period?

We have not one but two redundancy-related articles making our 2023 most popular reads. Back in February, Shell Energy, Asda and Royal Mail were among the latest stream of companies (at that time) to announce a large number of jobs at risk of redundancy. Sharing guidance on this uncertain period was Kevin Hollingworth, one of our original Culture Pioneers and Retail People Partner at Phoenix Medical Supplies Ltd.

Interested in this topic? Read Did your 2023 work predictions come true?



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Becky Norman

Managing Editor

Read more from Becky Norman

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