7 HR Trends 2023: Read These And Win The Year Ahead

Gary Stringer
September 9, 2022
July 20, 2023
Must-Read Articles

If you’re looking for HR trends and predictions based on the best reports published in 2022, this is the article for you.

Working out what’s coming next isn’t a ‘sticking a wet finger in the wind’ exercise! That’s how you end up with the same culprits as the year before, the year before that, and the year bef… you get the picture.

Did you know that people don’t really value friendships at work anymore? Nor did we until we read the latest research, but that certainly changes the game for HR and people teams in 2023 and beyond.

So does the fact that 20% of people felt catfished by job descriptions, 54% feel burnt out, and just 14% think their feedback drives change. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn that ship around, and we’re hopefully giving you a head start with these seven HR trends for 2023.

HR to start listening more (or at least show it is)

In short

The latest research revealed that employees don’t think HR is taking their feedback on board.

Why are we including it?

When 85% of HR staff think they’re using feedback to improve the employee experience and only 50% of staff agree, you understand the issue pretty quickly. There is an obvious disconnect between the feedback expectation of the HR team and the company’s people.

Why? And how can we remedy that in 2023?

The same Tivian report revealed that just 14% of people believe their employer uses feedback effectively to drive change.

And this really is a leave your ego at the door issue. If you presume it doesn’t apply to you and this could never be the case in your company, stop and reflect on whether you’ve spoken candidly to your people about the issue.

How can HR respond?

Communicate how feedback will be used as it’s collected and demonstrate how it’s being used to drive change. It seems so obvious, but this answers the audience’s question of what’s in it for me? Why should they bother taking the time and energy to respond!?

Two statistics emphasise why those two steps above are so important:

  • 38% felt the company was rarely or never open to their ideas = there are flaws in how feedback is collected.
  • 70% of staff said they had little or no influence over how things were done at their company = the way feedback is actioned or how that is communicated doesn’t make it clear where employee responses have driven real change.

Treat the feedback process as a product

To understand how HR can approach the process better, we picked the brains of our Product Marketing Manager, Alfie Gardner.

“Essentially, it’s about doing something from conception to the end, and not putting in a process for processes sake but designing it to alleviate a specific problem.”

And if we remember that people feel feedback isn’t being actioned right now, we have to start with this as our conception point and problem to be solved! Then we can build a process that not only captures feedback but uses it to drive performance and solve problems.

Here are some of Alfie’s tips for getting this right:

  • Recognise that feedback doesn’t operate in a vacuum: It’s often indicative of a wider problem or larger job to be done – there is always context that needs to be applied.
  • Understand the risks and problems: Especially of how you currently operate and not doing anything to change it.
  • Don’t decide on a solution before you define the problem: That old adage of don’t come to me with problems, come with solutions is counterintuitive to collecting actionable feedback.
  • Establish if something is a root cause or a symptom: People come to you with what they believe are problems but they could be symptoms of something deeper to be tackled. This is especially important when analysing and actioning feedback.
  • Ensure total readiness across teams: Thinking from a product or project launch perspective, you need everyone to be ready, clear on the objectives and on board. But HR and L&D might not always have the influence to do this, which is why we have to be so clear on the problem to be solved and the benefits of solving it to get others on our side.

Performance management to actually be about performance and development in 2023

In short

65% of HR Directors told Clear Review that their performance management process had been put on the back burner over this last year, while people development was at a three-year low as a key HR focus.

Why are we including it?

Perhaps it was a response to our emergence from the depths of the pandemic and into a changing hybrid world. But the performance focus shifted away from development towards productivity and engagement in 2022.

HR Trends Performance Management Focus On Development

Source: Clear Review Performance Management Report 2022

However, this is probably a little short-sighted. People are productive when they’re building relevant skills for their role, and they’re engaged when progression’s on the table. Does a productivity or project management tool make people productive, or do the talents needed to drive performance really move the needle? As the report points out:

“Performance and engagement are inextricably linked, and great performance management leads to engaged employees!”

How can HR respond?

Improve the quality of conversations around performance, and it’s pretty much as simple as that. It’s quite ironic that most people are naming productivity and engagement as the focus of their performance management efforts and not performance!

HR can’t sit in on every conversation, but it can act as a facilitator of better interactions between managers and employees – which , it turns out, is pretty critical right now.

HR Trends Performance Conversations

Source: Clear Review Performance Management Report 2022

People are having regular conversations about performance with managers, but there are real concerns around the quality:

“We ask employees how meaningful the conversations they have with their managers are, and 31% of them said they feel the conversations they do have are basic or bad, with little or no focus on wellbeing or development.”

If the conversation isn’t wandering into the territory of ‘which performance goal are we trying to reach and how can I help you get there’, it’s unlikely to drive real impact. HR can provide guidelines and frameworks that ensure performance conversations are covering:

  • Employee and organisational performance goals.
  • The current challenges and blockers to reaching them.
  • How they can be overcome through employee development.

Join us for L&D Disrupt Live: 7 HR Trends EVERYBODY Needs To Know For 2023

7 HR Trends EVERYBODY Needs To Know For 2023

Finally settling on flexible working arrangements that work for everyone

In short

More and more employees are working in hybrid settings, but there’s still an inconsistency in their working and learning experiences.

Why are we including it?

73% of employees now work in either a hybrid or fully remote setting, with nearly half (43%) working remotely full-time – according to Beezy’s 2022 Workplace Trends And Insights Report.

Add this to the fact that 32% plan to stay fully remote long-term, an 11-point jump on the previous year, and it’s fair to say this is finally the year that organisations settle on consistent experiences wherever people work.

As you can see from the image below, although we’re close in some areas, there are still huge chasms between how remote and in-person employees work and learn.

Differences in learning and working between in person and remote employees

Having somewhere appropriate to learn, clarity of personal goals, and a lack of time to learn show huge variances between in-person and remote workers.

Although we’re not given the in-person equivalent, the report also revealed that 56% of employees working remotely struggled to locate digital documents in the past year. Highlighting the need for consistent approaches, especially when it comes to learning and accessing information.

How can HR respond?

Consistency will be your best friend! If you’re offering that in the ways people work, learn and engage, you’ll close those gaps above.

One of the best examples is social learning. Why should someone in-person get more access to your internal experts than a remote employee, or why would the latter get a watered-down version of a face-to-face experience?

Let’s say 40% of your marketing team work remotely. You decide to hold an in-person session on the new brand, they can’t attend, but no worries, we’ll send them the recording after.

Actually, yes worries! Because not only will they miss the opportunity to participate or ask questions, they’ll have to watch others doing it. They are literally seeing what they could have won.

The better option would be to deliver it in a live virtual classroom, allowing everyone to participate on their own terms. Better yet, you decide you’ll add some contextual resources before the session and attach the new brand guidelines after. All you need is a place to do it all.

Use HowNow as centralised place for learning, development and collaboration

What this has all been building up to is a shameless plug for HowNow, so we should own that really!

Our learning experience platform (LXP) brings all your resources to the end of a single search! Consistency, remember… It allows you to personalise learning and deliver relevant resources. It’s a place to capture and distribute knowledge from external experts. Somewhere people can collaborate, your new live classroom and the LXP that connects with all the tools you already use.

If you have one centralised place, you will achieve that consistency! And we’d love to help you do it 😍 Book a demo today, and we’ll show you around HowNow.

A reassessment of the company culture’s role and importance

In short

What a difference three years make! In January 2020, employees were ten times more likely to stay at a company for friendships than pay rises. Now, HR has to contend with the fact that socialising has slipped down the pecking order, and people feel less connected to culture.

Why are we including it?

Almost three-quarters of employees work remotely in some capacity, which has been brilliant in so many ways. But, unfortunately for HR and people teams, it’s driven a wedge between employees and the company culture.

According to Gartner, just 24% of hybrid and remote workers feel connected to their company’’s culture.

“Hybrid and remote work hasn’t necessarily changed our culture, it’s changed the way we experience culture… While employers used to be able to frame their cultural values and hang them on the walls for employees to see, this no longer works today when hybrid and remote knowledge workers spend 65% less time in offices than before the pandemic.” – Alexia Cambon, Director, Gartner HR.

At the same time, we’re in a precarious economic position. High-profile redundancies and fears over job security have followed a period where talent had all the power, and we were experiencing a ‘Great Resignation’. In short, that means we’ve experienced turnover, and we’re in a position where we’re worrying more is on the way.

That’s created short-termism around company culture and how ingrained people should get in it.

63% of employees experiencing above-average turnover on their team believe that it’s become less worthwhile for them to socialise and build bonds with their colleagues, according to Capterra.

How can HR respond?

Speak to people and get some honest answers! You might need to anonymise the feedback channel, but you’ll never get the culture right if you don’t know what people want from it.

We spoke about it from an L&D perspective on an episode of our L&D Disrupt podcast, but when you’re solving the wrong problem, you get everything that follows wrong.

Let’s say you receive the news that remote employees don’t feel connected to their peers. So you start funding their travel into the office once a month to offer face-to-face time. Nice gesture, but what if your remote employees were never bothered about meeting in person…

In fact, their issue was that it never felt like they were working on meaningful projects together. It wasn’t a social issue but a working relationship one.

If you assume the problem or define it poorly, you end up taking actions that never address the root cause. So, speak to people about culture, and don’t do anything else until you have.

Onboarding to finally get itself together (and an end to job description catfishing)

In short

Onboarding’s been in a chaotic state of flux for a few years now, and it’s showing! 2022 research shows that A LOT of employees really haven’t been enjoying their onboarding experiences, so it’s time for that to change. And part of it might be due to misleading job descriptions…

Why are we including it?

Because nearly two-thirds of employees found their onboarding experience to be stressful! And the same Cezanne HR research also revealed that a fifth of employees felt misled by the original job listing.

If we dig a little deeper into the numbers, we get an understanding of why…

  • Over a quarter of remote workers surveyed said they’d been let down by poor onboarding – indicating that there’s still a disconnect between remote, hybrid, and in-person onboarding programs.
  • Only half of all new hires said they felt productive and capable of doing their jobs – suggesting that onboarding wasn’t personalised or structured to help them reach productivity in their role.
  • Over a fifth of new hires said their onboarding made them question their choice in jobs – pointing back to our stat on those misleading job descriptions. It’s human nature to look at where we went wrong, but being catfished by an advert for the role hardly helps.
  • 20% of new employees felt they’d been left isolated or alone during their onboarding – which could be a symptom of those unbalanced remote and in-person approaches.
  • Only 40% of new hires in larger organisations had the tools or equipment needed to start their roles right away with 57% of overall employees frustrated by legacy tech, it’s no wonder new hires don’t feel those tools are taking them to productivity.

How can HR respond?

Obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here. The most straightforward place to start would be with a review of your job descriptions, given that they’re often the first domino in the chain. Are they reflective of the role and the performance you’re expecting of the people who fill them? Could they do with a less-is-more clean up?

For the other issues, we’ve actually got the perfect blog post on overcoming modern onboarding challenges!

But to summarise some quick actions for you here:

Build a personalised onboarding plan with goals based around getting people to productivity and able to perform the role – it’s helpful if you stagger those. For example, a new sales rep’s first milestone might be pitching the product internally before moving to simulated prospect calls and then the real thing under supervision.

When you have that in place, you can connect them to people in meaningful ways to prevent them from feeling isolated. An experienced sales rep could coach them through pitching, before a manager practices those calls with them – which is probably far more helpful than small talk.

Lastly, it might be time for an honest assessment of your tech stack. 68% of business leaders believe new software has a high learning curve, and there’s a fair chance a lot of your software will be new to new employees. Add to that the issue of 91% feeling frustrated by work tech generally and 57% by legacy tech, and it could be time for a freshen up.

Wellbeing being more than a webinar or week of support

In short

Burnout, stress and a poor work-life balance are still very much real concerns for employees. And sadly, quick fixes and token efforts like webinars still seem to be the most used tool in the box.

Why are we including it?

Because Employment Hero’s 2022 Wellness Report revealed some pretty interesting findings on workplace wellbeing, namely that we’ve not quite hit the stress nail on the head.

54% of UK workers are feeling work burnout, while more than half feel they have an average or poor work-life balance. Another report revealed that 23% experienced sadness during the previous day, while 44% were highly stressed in the past 24 hours.

And that’s why quick fixes fix nothing. These are all more complex problems than a webinar or even a wellbeing week can change.

The good news? The employees who rated their employer’s commitment to wellbeing favourably were 48% more likely to be loyal to the company.

How can HR respond?

Get to the root cause of the problem! Why are your people feeling stressed, burned out, or unsupported?

It could be financial pressure, with 59% of respondents stating they were stressed by their monetary situation. Maybe it’s that working remotely is making mental health conversations harder – a concern flagged by close to half of the survey participants. Or it could just be that they’re uncomfortable discussing the topic at work, a statement that 46% agreed with.

Given all of the above, you need to carefully consider how you collect the feedback that helps you tackle the problem. These are sensitive subjects, so consider how you anonymise feedback to remove those fears and pressures. At the same time, you have to ensure there’s consistency between remote and in-person employees – given that almost half feel working outside the office is a barrier to important conversations.

Building skills that can’t be bought or borrowed

In short

We’ve transitioned from a great resignation where talent had plenty of choice to a situation where redundancies and hiring freezes are becoming more and more common. For HR and L&D teams, this might mean needing to do more with less among falling staff numbers or hiring freezes.

Why are we including it?

From Netflix laying off 300 people in June to Tesla announcing 10% workforce reductions across the following three months, and all the smaller stories in between, the second half of 2022 felt a bit bleak.

An economic downturn was a key driver of public redundancy announcements and private communications about hiring freezes. For HR and L&D teams, that means you’re in a position where you can’t bring in new talent to fill skill gaps or borrow those talents from freelancers.

How can HR respond?

In a nutshell, when you can’t buy skills through hiring or borrow through short-term external support, you have to build them! We asked our CEO and author of Learning at Speed, Nelson Sivalingam, to explain:

“With the economic downturn, people are reviewing where they’re spending their money, and they have less budget to hire for the skills gaps they have or use freelancers or contractors.

“So essentially, the most cost-effective way for you to address those skills gaps is to invest in existing talent. And that’s where upskilling and reskilling is the way to build those skills, rather than buying or borrowing to close skills gaps.”

But even before these economic struggles and the challenges of the pandemic, the rate of change in our industries meant that it was never really going to be sustainable to keep borrowing or buying talent.

And besides, if you’re a disruptor in your space or ahead of the curve, you might struggle to hire the skills you need – so you’d have to invest in people anyway.

How HR and L&D teams can leverage internal talent to close skills gaps

Work out your skills gaps and map out your skills profile

You’ll never close skills gaps effectively without establishing where they exist. Essentially, it’s a case of measuring the skills you currently have and comparing them to the ones needed to reach business goals and drive employee performance.

As part of that process, you’ll also build out a skills profile for everyone in your team – which will help you identify candidates for upskilling and reskilling in the future.

Build a culture of talent mobility

Rather than HR always hiring people, there could well be someone capable of filling a role or plugging a skills gap in your team!

For example, someone might have 90% of what’s needed to fill a position in another business function, and just require that 10% of reskilling needed to make them a great fit.

This will never happen, of course, without a talent mobility infrastructure or frameworks in place that allow people to move fluidly through the business. One option would be moving away from static job functions towards a project-based focus, where you’re asking who would be right for this particular problem or project. This will allow you to leverage more people across the organisation!

And the more you carry out exercises like this, the more you’ll build a culture of closing those skill gaps internally when they do crop up.

Deliver relevant learning at the point of need

If you’ve done these first two things well, you’ll find this process a lot easier. You know which skill you’re lacking, you know who the best candidate to build it is – so your next job is to provide relevant learning that closes the gap between that person’s current skills and the ones needed.

And the best part is, you can build that around the specific business context of where it’ll be applied. Let’s say you’re short on customer support staff, but someone in your social media team knows the product well and is used to answering questions through messages and comments.

They might simply lack the process and tech knowledge of logging new customer queries in the right place and need some guidance on dealing with complaints that are more frequent through this channel.

You can build a learning journey that helps them develop these skills, offers practice scenarios and exercises, and provides micro-resources that talk them through it in practice. That way, when the problem arises, and they’re in that moment of need, the support is there to apply information and build knowledge when they’re most motivated.  

Tapping into subject matter experts and shared knowledge

There’s also the scenario where a skill might not be lacking completely in your team, you just need more people to have it! An example would be someone is the top dog at closing deals and you need more people to hit similar numbers if you’re going to reach targets.

That don of deal closing has relevant and contextual knowledge that would help drive the performance of others… IF it’s captured and shared in ways that make it easily applied.

HowNow could be that place! 🚀 We’ll help you capture knowledge from your best minds in one single place, organise that content by topics, share it with relevant groups, and then connect it in all the places your people work.

Remember that moment of need? We’ll help you connect people to knowledge in those moments so that your L&D efforts make an impact.

Book a demo today and we’ll explain how!