7th February 2024
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‘Wellness whitewashing’ among the HR trends we need to brace for in 2023

From so-called wellness whitewashing, talent shortages and global hiring, to ESG and more pressure for leaders – here are some trends HR practitioners are predicting will impact employers next year…

Rachel Fellowes, Chief Wellbeing Officer at Aon: “We want to see a transition – from ill-being to wellbeing.

“People are increasingly reflecting on how they can create a sustainable life. This means wellness is high on individuals’ agendas – and needs therefore to be on employers’ agendas too – not least because burnout and poor mental health are so common.

“Pre-pandemic, wellness was considered helpful academic information. For 2023, resilience in organisations and individuals is so important, lip service or wellness white washing won’t work.

“Measuring human sustainability is increasingly common and important. Using a tool to do this in 2023 means employers can measure wellbeing and resilience for their individuals, teams and organisations, so employers and their advisers gain data-driven insights to make decisions with clarity.”

Rachel Davis, co-MD of Armstrong Craven (experts in research driven talent solutions): “The global talent shortage is still very present. Multiple sectors are grappling with a shortage of labour – whether specialist skills (tech, biotech, ESG etc) or the volume end of the workforce. This trend isn’t going anywhere quickly given the number of older people who left the workforce during the pandemic and are now trickling back. The tightening of hiring by the tech firms might have helped some mid-tier tech firms, but shortages still remain. The structural issues in other sectors, particularly in those reliant on traditional STEM skills like engineering are also getting much worse.

“ESG. Talent, particularly Gen Z, is demanding that organisations can demonstrate a purpose to their business, beyond just ‘making money’. It’s a subject that many CEOs are taking a very defensive position – trying to do enough to placate any potentially activist investors whilst not having any interest in making material changes. Unless, of course, they can see a commercial upside or a big risk of a commercial downside.

“All these trends will continue to gather momentum and prominence. For the first time we may see responses to challenges like climate change or social change being hard-baked into policies, instead of merely being a branding initiative where companies can give lip service to the issue.”

Matt Wilson, co-CEO and co-Founder of Omnipresent (global employment partner): “Remote & hybrid work are here to stay. As businesses emerged from the pandemic, there was one debate that shaped the work narrative in 2022: to stay remote or not. Organisations like Airbnb announced their intentions to remain fully remote (resulting in record numbers of prospective employees heading to their career pages), while others doubled down on the return to the office.

“As we head into 2023, there’s no sign that the momentum is slowing. Research carried out by Omnipresent in partnership with YouGov revealed that 89% of UK businesses planning to adopt a remote or hybrid work policy will do so within the next 12 months.

“We also predict that we’re in the early stages of a shift to a truly global way of working – one that sees remote and hybrid teams collaborating across borders and time zones, not just within the same city. We’re calling this the Globalisation of Teams, and we foresee that it’ll really start to take hold in 2023.

“Employee experience will be business-critical. With ‘quiet quitting’ hitting the headlines in 2022, and ever more opportunities to work for globally distributed organisations, there has never been more competition to attract and retain the best talent. We predict, therefore, that 2023 will be the year of employee experience – from the first contact at application stage through to offboarding.

“Recruiters, HR teams, and managers alike need to be mindful of the employee experience. There are four key things remote and hybrid businesses need to consider. They must ensure that teams are: engaged and aligned to a central mission, equipped with the right tools to succeed, empowered to make decisions, and supported with any HR issues. These things can make or break an employee’s journey within an organisation.

“The good news is that employers already have a mindful eye on the employee experience as they look to adopt remote and hybrid work models. Our survey with YouGov revealed that 49% of responding executives who currently have or plan to adopt a remote work model said talent priorities are driving their organisations to adopt a fully remote working model.”

Matt Stephens, CEO and founder of Inpulse (experts in emotion-driven employee insights): “2022 has been a year of turbulence with the war in Ukraine, energy and cost of living crisis, a difficult employment market and continuing to adapt to a post-pandemic world and ways of working. It has yielded mixed results, lacking an overall trend, as engagement strategies and scores have diverted to be more sector-specific.

“Moving into 2023, we are expecting to see more change programmes and downsizing. As organisations delay recruitment to ‘wait-out’ a turbulent year, the additional workload will fall on the existing workforce, with two key roles becoming more important than ever:

The executives – steering the way through the change and uncertainty, the execs must cast a strong vision to guide and give clear purpose to employees. They must paint a picture of the future and communicate this throughout their organisation. The line manager becomes the ‘line leader’ – the word ‘manager’ is outdated and does not reflect the expectations and demands of this role. Our ‘line leaders’ need to influence and inspire their teams as opposed to managing them.

“With this in mind, 360 feedback surveys will be an invaluable part of the engagement approach as they demonstrate the correlation between key leadership competencies and employee engagement. Organisations will need to ensure they are measuring throughout the employee lifecycle to build a culture which attracts talent and retains high performers.”

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