Emerging workforce trends for 2023
Today, companies must keep track of emerging trends if they wish to remain competitive in the employment market. Underlying these trends are three factors:
- The flexibility and appeal of hybrid work
- People prioritising values and purpose over financial gain
- Digital transformation, automation, and the evolution of Artificial Intelligence
Here, we look at 12 workforce trends that are shaping how companies attract and retain the brightest and the best.
GLOBAL WORKFORCE TRENDS IN A VOLATILE WORLD
- The ‘Everywhere’ Workplace
Hybrid working spaces are here to stay. According to Gartner research, people who work remotely will form around 32% of the workforce by 2024.
Gen Z – the latest group to enter the workforce – are clear about their needs, too. According to a study by Mazars, as much as 73% want to be able to organise their working hours as they like.
Some employers oppose remote working. But employees are voting with their feet and choosing employers that offer the flexibility they enjoyed during the pandemic.
- Environment, Social and Governance Agenda
Today, employees expect their employers to get involved in societal and political debates; to have a view, take a stand, and promote ESG initiatives.
According to a report by McKinsey, more than 90% of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports in some form; as do approximately 70% of Russel 1000 companies.
As such, more people are choosing companies that prioritise, clearly communicate and act on environmental, social and governance concerns.
- Reskilling and Upskilling
The World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs report reveals that 50% of employees will need reskilling by 2025. And it is not difficult to see why. Much of our manual and even our intellectual labour is fast being replaced by AI and machines.
Thankfully, leaders and managers are beginning to take note. The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, shows that 72% of executives ranked “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles” as the most important or second-most important factor to navigate future disruptions.
- The Great Reshuffle
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index – a survey covering more than 30,000 people in 31 countries – over two-fifths of people are considering leaving their employer in the next year. And flexibility and hybrid work opportunities have become a deciding factor.
Many people now prioritise working for an organisation that aligns with their values and offers work that is fulfilling. This has resulted in thousands of people jumping to roles that fit both criterion and has been dubbed ‘The Great Reshuffle’.
In the Cegos International Barometer 2022, 78% of employees say they would be willing to consider a complete career change if it brought greater meaning.
- Skills-based Hiring
The way people traditionally get hired is based primarily on the degree they earn, the job they currently hold, or the people they know. This is changing.
The trend now is moving towards skills-first hiring strategies. People are being hired on the strength of the skills they possess – or have strong potential to develop – rather than evidence of any kind of intellectual rigour, such as a degree.
For some years, bosses have complained that graduates or school leavers lack some of the most basic skills – such as communication or critical thinking – that are essential to productivity. As such, many employers are placing an emphasis on hiring people with those skills already in place and, in some cases, removing certification from criteria unless they are deemed necessary.
- The Evolving Role of the Manager
A study in Harvard Business Review, reveals that 65% of the tasks currently undertaken by managers have the potential to be automated by 2025. This will change expectations of what it means to be a manager – transitioning from managing tasks to managing the experience of all employees.
Many of the more menial tasks – scheduling, approving expense reports or vacations, monitoring completion of tasks, project management and coordination, etc., – will be automated.
- The Evolution of Leadership
It is not just managers who need to adapt. Leaders, too, are being called upon to develop more human-centric leadership skills, especially as we become more dependent on technology.
Leaders today must navigate a range of uncertain and complex challenges as well as deal with change quickly. It calls for a different type of leadership: empathetic, agile, and inclusive.
- Talent Scarcity
People took early retirement in record numbers in 2020 – part of the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ following the pandemic. This has resulted in a severe shortage of labour in many sectors, compounded by digital transformation giving workers more flexibility in how they work, and who they work for.
A crisis of leadership, poor understanding of what young talent needs, and the lack of decent working conditions contributed to the issue. The push towards higher education in place of work-based training pathways, and the mismatch between education and workplace needs also had an impact.
- 4-Day Work Week
Mental health and work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for today’s employees. Thanks to digital transformation that creates flexibility and more efficiencies in the way we work, some companies are now experimenting with the 4-day week to see if such an initiative will increase employee well-being without negatively affecting productivity.
The thinking is that, besides increasing productivity and employee well-being, the 4-day work week can reduce the gender gap and unemployment, as well as enhance employee engagement, attraction, and retention.
- Employee-first Experience
Many companies, with good reason, like to say they put the customer first. But this sometimes comes at the expense of employee engagement and leads to attrition.
The shift towards employees becoming more autonomous has created a real challenge for employers. Along with the shift in priorities (values rather than money), employees are looking for a company culture in which they are fully supported; one that is inclusive and encourages risk-taking.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
Companies that prioritise DEI will be more sustainable in the future of work. According to the WEF, one of the primary focus areas of L&D programs across the world in 2022 is Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Strong DEI policies are no longer a nice-to-have. They allow for more innovation, provide new perspectives, widen the talent pool, improve performance, and foster creativity. The workforce of the future – given the prevalence of new technology, remote work and global travel – is more diverse than ever.
- Wellbeing at Work
Wellness is fast becoming a metric used by companies to understand their employees, predict performance, and promote retention.
Mental health issues have increased tremendously since the pandemic and continue to impact people in unpredictable ways. Thankfully, many companies recognise the issue and have put programs in place to combat mental health challenges, including greater flexibility, the 4-day work week, learning and development benefits, health and wellness initiatives, etc.
A 2020 survey of 52 HR executives by Gartner found that:
- 94% of companies made significant investments in their well-being programs
- 85% increased support for mental health benefits
- 50% increased support for physical well-being
- 38% increased support for financial well-being
In boardrooms up and down the country and across continents these trends will be being discussed, what do they mean to your organisation and your people?
Commercial & Marketing Director, Cegos (UK) Ltd