In the past most companies considered the Human Resources Department as a cost center with the responsibilities often being limited to being administrators – people that make sure employees get paid on time, that hire new people, and enforce that employees comply with regulations and policies that the organization has put in place. While there were already trends and initiatives to make HR a strategic component of the business before the pandemic, it was with the pandemic that HR was thrust into the spotlight.
All of the sudden, HR was pushed to the forefront, having to try to bridge the impact not only that the Covid economic slowdown had on business continuity but also the shutdown of office work. With the emergence of new necessities, new paradigms, new technologies, the way we work, how we work, and what we value in a company has changed, and with it the traditional employee-employer relationship has also changed.
For HR professionals this means in addition to the old tasks, they are asked to become a strategic component of the business. In that function they are now required to partner with executives throughout the organization in both supporting and advisory roles. New tasks span from becoming change leaders, to contributing ideas to lead the organization in advancing company goals while at the same time being required to grow and adjust in line with the company direction.
So, what is up ahead for HR in 2023?
As HR professionals continue to deal with the aftermath of the disruptions brought on by the pandemic, they have a lot on their plate this year. From ensuring a positive company culture, to improving the employee experience, while managing new employee expectations, needs for flexibility and bridging those with business requirements for productivity, retention, and attracting new talents, HR will have to invest in people and technology to support initiatives in these areas and to build a bridge between the needs of the organization and the needs of the employees.
Let’s take a look at four of the priorities and responsibilities HR should take on this year:
1. Change Management
The past few years have brought a lot of changes in the demographics and commitment of the workforce. Hybrid work, contract work, teamwork across multiple offices , employee well-being are all new elements put on the HR department’s agenda while feeling the pressure from the top to improve productivity in people.
The New Normal
Most companies have embraced a flexible workplace system, or work with teams based in multiple locations. This dispersed workforce requires a new approach to collaboration and management. Unfortunately, thought through guidelines of how, where and when we work and what results need to be delivered are lacking behind. With employees expecting more flexibility, HR will need to develop a modern approach on this topic that convinces both employees and business leaders. As flexible work feeds into the attendance vs productivity discussion, it goes hand in hand with the establishment of clear metrics on performance objectives and result expectations and performance for pay criteria that are clearly communicated to everyone.
Another challenge HR will have to address this year is contingent workers. While they are not yet quite business as usual in Asia, the trend continues and with pay levels in Asia rising at fast, alternative types of workers such as contract workers or freelancers will gain attraction. This means in the future more teams will be composed of employees with different contractual relationships. Full time, permanent employees may be mixed with gig workers who are called in as needed, outsourced workers who deliver work based on a service level agreement and consultants who may advise on a retainer basis or be contracted short term with specific deliverables. (1)
Guidance and Strategies
It will be HRs responsibility to guide their company on these trends and how to turn them into opportunities. Moreover, it needs to develop a strategy on how to bring in different types of workers into the employee mix for the benefit of the company. This does not only concern legal and regulatory aspects and inclusion, but extends to how we view performance, collaboration and continuity. HR will need to find tools to implement the talent lifecycle across all the roles in the business (contingent and regular workers included) together with organizational effectiveness and optimize existing structures and plans.
2. Employee Experience
It is undeniable that a major post-pandemic trend is the employee experience. Employees want to be more in charge of their career moves, skill development, learning and work-life-balance. For HR professionals this means coming up with long-term plans and strategies for productivity, flexibility, well-being, regular feedback gathering and personalized interaction to motivate and boost employees’ confidence in the company.
According to the Gartner HR Top Priorities 2023 (2) report, reshaping the employee experience is a priority for 47% of HR leaders as many of them believe their organizations do not have compelling career paths and struggle to identify internal moves to advance employees’ careers. Similarly, another Gartner study revealed that only 1 in 4 employees is happy about the current career at their organization, while 3 in 4 are interested in external positions.
As the work experience is changing and career options becoming less visible, the traditional career development plan of 1) setting a path and communicating role benefits and requirements, 2) finding in-role opportunities and 3) identifying internal roles to achieve goals is becoming outdated.
Pairing this with the Gartner TalentNeuron™ data that show the total number of skills required for a single job has been increasing by 10% year-over-year since 2017 (3), then organizations face the additional problem of current skills becoming obsolete and employees not being prepared for future roles.
This new reality creates a sense of urgency for HR leaders to develop new career opportunities, alternative routes for progress and growth that better fit the new normal of work and career progression.
3. Reskilling and Upskilling
New career paths for more agile teams are one side of the employee experience, another is empowering teams with the right tools and environment to encourage proactive learning, and acquiring skills relevant for the digital workplace. Beyond just encouraging employees to own their development, HR leaders should become advocates of a learning culture providing equal access to all types of workers through learning platforms.
According to Gartner, Inc. HR leaders have difficulty to quickly find and develop talent with the most in demand skills, yet 58% of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done. While previously, skill gaps have been filled through talent acquisition, this is no longer the case since the pandemic and companies are starting to look internally to map skill sets, identify adjacencies to those in demand and utilize training to close any gaps.” (4)
To add to the skill and experience problem, companies are also facing leadership experience issues. This is a result of promoting high-performers due to the pandemic, burnout and quiet quitting in a bid to retain them. Moreover, because of the shortages, many companies also took chances on hiring less experienced talents for managerial positions. Both of which now leave them with a pipeline of inadequately experienced leadership candidates and the challenge to develop this next generation of leaders.
Embrace hybrid approach to learning and growth
This is where HR is expected to come in this year – investing in reskilling and upskilling employees, managers and leaders including the HR professionals themselves. Thrust into requiring new competencies such as accelerating business results, enhancing culture, being data driven, foster collaboration of diverse teams, and more, HR must lead by example and develop meaningful learning strategies and experiences that encourage all types of workers to continuously grow their skills to move ahead with their careers.
Part of that strategy will be embracing new technologies and digital tools that allow employees to learn at any time, virtually anywhere, at their own pace and convenience. That means implementing a hybrid strategy of formal training programs and informal ways of learning through online learning platforms, networks and relationships.(5) Developing a digital mindset will be key for HR to tackle the current business challenges, drive skill development, increase growth, and ultimately the employee experience. When fostering a culture focused on reskilling, upskilling, and promoting from within, organizations will be well-positioned to weather any disruption.(6)
4. HR as a Strategic Partner and the Use of Technology
As modern HR teams have become a strategic component of the business, they are increasingly responsible for HR systems with far reaching impact and contributing to the strategic development of the organization. Forward thinking companies are beginning to look at HR departments differently, and part of this change is reflected in the transition of HR from a cost center to a profit center. To reflect this change, HR departments are increasingly tasked with taking care of the following initiatives:
- Guidance on Trends and Opportunities
Identifying broad industry trends such as shared service centers, outsourcing and contingent workers that have broad business impact and defining how they will be implemented together with estimated financial impact
- Automate & Distribute Processes to Users
Increasing business agility, responsiveness and efficiency by automating HR related tasks and pushing them to users
- Build in compliance to ensure smooth rollout
Ensuring significant business change is automated to manage compliance as end users take over tasks traditionally controlled by HR professionals
- Create efficiencies with technology so process distribution does not overwhelm users
Deploying IT systems to support changing business flows and process distribution with minimal additional workload to employees. This is a consistent issue companies have prior to HR implementation as it requires massive manual data collection and overly complex manual approval processes which cause a huge burden on users.
- Build a sustainable journey along the HR Technology adoption curve with permanent, extensible solutions
Building future ready systems and processes that are positioned to support the organization without the need for replacement. Many organizations typically make major adjustments to processes and systems every 4-5 years, with cycles due to failed implementation often being less than 2 years.
This year 2023 sees great opportunities for HR but also challenges that need to be overcome. It holds great potential for HR teams to reposition themselves as leaders of the business and developer of people skills and to exercise its true power: driving strategic impact through people.
If you are interested in deploying an employee-centric HCM platform that delivers automation on core HR functions and facilitates strategic talent development and employee feedback, contact us for a demonstration of Workplaze HR. Alternatively, download the Workplaze e-book here to explore the many features that HR can use to carry out their old and new responsibilities.
The below list of resources speaks about 2023 Trends and is recommended for further reading: