Author Profile Picture

Josh Bersin

The Josh Bersin Company

Industry analyst and CEO

Read more about Josh Bersin

Three secrets to surviving and thriving in 2023

Overcoming the greatest workforce challenges of the 2020s means facing the music and modernising processes

No head of HR is free from the colossal social, economic and workplace trends that are shaping office life in the 2020s. 

The tempo of change is overwhelming, and you likely now find yourself struggling to create the best environment you can for a set of employees that is ageing, diversifying and shrinking at the same time – whilst having their head turned in the 21st Century’s talent crunch.

Meanwhile, digital transformation is ensuring that the skills needed for a job change every few months.

Survival of the fittest

To stand any chance of surviving these challenges, and the many others, you need to face the music and work extremely proactively with the rest of your business to completely modernise how you get work done. 

Here, I will outline three ways that will go some way in helping you do just that, and to survive and thrive in 2023.

1. People sustainability

First is embracing ‘people sustainability’ to retain and attract the best people.

The smart CHRO understands that when both business landscapes and technology change so fast, skilled and highly engaged employees are the most important asset they have. 

But your workers aren’t automatons. They need (and expect) to be taken care of, and to know that you want a long-term, empowering relationship with them.

Providing conscious support

Embracing an emerging concept will allow you to do just that, ‘people sustainability’. Put simply, this is a combination of conscious support for employees around their physical and mental health (and even support for their financial wellbeing) all under one umbrella, and tying it to your business goals.

Embracing it properly means that you begin to consider wellbeing as a defined strategy for corporate growth, rather than a benefit to be offered alongside vacation and insurance, and consider employee burnout to be a management problem, not a personal issue for each worker. 

Going forward, everything we do in HR will be part of equally integrated, cross-organisational, wellbeing and productivity-generated working

Safe spaces

It encompasses many things, including diversity, pay equity, fairness, freedom from harassment, safe working conditions, psychological safety, and more. 

In practical terms, this could be anything from building spaces specifically for your teams to rest and reflect, to pushing for permanent new ways of working, like four-day weeks. 

A holistic approach to wellbeing

I could list more practical examples, but that’s not the point. The point is that employee wellbeing problems need to be treated holistically, not as piecemeal programs, no matter how well intentioned or resourced. Then, find a way to measure it, make yourself accountable, and make sure you stick to it. Major companies, including Heineken and SAP, are doing just that. 

Supported by the CEO, people sustainability could easily become the foundation of your entire employee experience, fusing previously disparate attempts at things like DEI or Purpose or L&D and unifying them under one roof.

2. Revising rewards

Second is changing how you reward people.

CHROs need to look at pay this year, as a top priority – and it’s not just about giving people more money.

2022 was the most disruptive period in pay practices we’ve seen in a long time. Everyone has been raising pay, changing pay models, and benchmarking pay. But from decades of experience, let me tell you, what really makes employees frustrated is pay equity. 

Your workers … need (and expect) to be taken care of, and to know that you want a long-term, empowering relationship with them

Dealing with disparities

Therefore, focus on fixing pay disparities first before you give everyone a raise. And every time a new person is hired, promoted, or moved, accept that your pay system may need adjustment.

Salesforce, for example, spends millions of dollars every year to keep on top of pay equity issues—a process that’s built real trust with employees.

By the same token, organisations need to keep rewarding people in more ways than just money. In 2022, US employers paid over 30% of their total payroll in ‘non-cash’ benefits (e.g., insurance, leave, educational benefits, etc.) Consider what non-cash benefits you’re well-placed to offer and start doing it.

CHROs need to keep a keen eye on keeping competitive on this front in 2023 – if the reward system helps your people stay focused and productive, the payoff is huge.

3. A focus on productivity

Three is being more strategic in your hiring, and empowering your recruiters.

We learned a big lesson during the last economic cycle—you can’t just hire to grow and expect that to always work (consider Meta and Amazon’s recent layoffs, for instance). We need to be much more deliberate, careful and strategic in our hiring. 

And the most strategic thing you can do with your hiring is focus on productivity. Namely, only ever hire if you are 100% sure that the new member will, in a provable way, boost the productivity of the entire team. Don’t just fill the slots. 

The real key to superior recruitment is the strength, sills, and relationships of your recruiters. 

But, why?

Well, productivity is infectious and creates employee engagement. When people feel productive, they love their jobs; when they feel they are wasting their time, they quietly quit or move on. 

Every new HR process or policy you create should only ever improve productivity, not reduce it.

So how do you hire in such a way, and get people who do just that? 

Reframing recruiter relationships

The real key to superior recruitment is the strength, sills, and relationships of your recruiters. 

To maximise this, the CHRO should stop seeing them as just salespekople (and there’s nothing wrong with salespeople anyway), and more as trusted advisors who can help decide if a candidate fits your culture, and arm them with powerful tools for sourcing, assessment, and selling you as a brand.

And you’ll need that brand to be front-of-mind to prospective employees more than ever, with one of the tightest labour markets most can ever recall.

Going forward, everything we do in HR will be part of equally integrated, cross-organisational, wellbeing and productivity-generating working. These are some ways you can get ahead of the game.

If you enjoyed this, read: Book excerpt: ‘Irresistible’ by Josh Bersin


Author Profile Picture
Josh Bersin

Industry analyst and CEO

Read more from Josh Bersin
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to HRZone's newsletter