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HR execs open up about the biggest challenges that will define 2023

Brace yourself for another tumultuous year at work.Brace yourself for another tumultuous year at work.

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  • HR execs from companies like IBM and UKG predict the biggest workplace issues of 2023.
  • Their responses included making Gen Z feel heard and caring for staff in a tough economy.
  • Several leaders said the pandemic upended workplace dynamics and it’s impossible to reverse course.

The last few years have been … busy for HR.

As the global workforce reeled from a pandemic and widespread shifts to remote- and hybrid-work models — among other major economic and social changes — talent teams were responsible for keeping people safe, healthy, engaged, and productive.

It doesn’t look like they’ll have a chance to catch their breath in 2023.

Insider surveyed eight talent leaders, including consultants and HR chiefs across a range of industries, about the most pressing workplace challenges we could face this year. We heard about “keeping the fire lit” around diversity, equity, and inclusion; severing ties with the 9-to-5 workday; and giving employees the tools they need to build successful careers.

Here’s the full list of responses we received, listed in alphabetical order by the HR leader’s last name.

Madison Butler, the founder and CEO of the talent consultancy Blue Haired Unicorn: Putting people over profitMadison Butler.Butler.

Courtesy of Madison Butler

Since 2020, we have seen a shift in how employers treat employees and what employees expect. DEI has become a large part of many organizations’ initiatives — or so they say. However, with the shift in the economy, more companies will be putting profit over people and will inherently shift how they treat and value their employees.

I also believe we are seeing a downturn in the importance of DEI. Keeping that fire lit is going to be a hard task for many people and DEI leaders as companies cut and layoffs tend to impact DEI first.

Angela Champ, the senior vice president of HR at the Vancouver-based facilities company Alpine Building Maintenance: Navigating pay transparency in the USAngela Champ.Champ.

Courtesy of Angela Champ

As of January 1, four jurisdictions in the US now have legislation requiring the disclosure of salary in their postings. This will put pressure on companies that work in various states to have an equal practice across states, which will pressure other companies to follow suit.

Another challenge will be the move toward full automation, which may bring on a crisis of people who don’t have opportunities to interact with other human beings. This runs the risk of polarizing people even more. The less we interact in person with others, the “meaner” we become. We’re prioritizing cost savings and automation over humanity and connection.

Gianna Driver, the chief human-resources officer at the cybersecurity company Exabeam: Finding and keeping top talentGianna Driver.Driver.

Courtesy of Exabeam

Company leaders must listen closely to Gen Z voices. This generation typically aligns with organizations that cannot just talk the talk when it comes to diverse hiring, work-life balance, the future of the workplace, and more — but also walk the walk. They want to feel heard and seen at work, as we all should. 

To help cater to Gen Z candidates, organizations need to prioritize creating a culture of psychological safety. In this environment, with clear decision-makers leading the way, organizations can benefit from employee engagement and retention and experience better business outcomes.

Laura Fuentes, the chief human-resources officer at Hilton: Creating an inclusive work environmentLaura Fuentes.Fuentes.

Courtesy of Hilton

For many companies, the biggest challenge will be to build a new and truly collaborative workplace experience in the post-COVID world, with a future of work that both employers and employees design.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest workplace disruption in generations, causing many to reevaluate their purposes and reprioritize their personal and professional needs. Now more than ever, employees want to bring their whole selves to work in an environment that is more inclusive, healthier, growth-oriented, and values-driven. By embracing this new mindset together, employers and employees can cocreate a stronger, more productive, and fulfilling work experience.

Jaime Klein, the founder and CEO of the HR consultancy Inspire Human Resources: Offering different types of flexibilityJaime Klein.Klein.

Courtesy of Inspire HR

Leaders are growing impatient to get back to a more familiar scenario. But employees cannot “unsee” the benefits of the work-life balance they enjoyed while primarily working from home, so they want to retain that flexibility.

Yesterday’s employment model that leans on full-time, 9-to-5 staff isn’t flexible enough to future-proof talent needs in this volatile work environment. But it’s hard to shake old habits. An overreliance on full-time staff tackling stretch assignments will be a major challenge to confront in 2023 and beyond.

Nickle LaMoreaux, the chief human-resources officer at IBM: Closing the skills gapNickle LaMoreaux.LaMoreaux.

Courtesy of IBM

Companies are going through digital transformations faster than ever, leading to an unprecedented skills gap.

They now face increased requirements to downsize costs and pressures on businesses to deliver more streamlined and customized digital experiences, combined with a workforce that is more dispersed and virtual. To solve the skills shortage required to deliver solutions to these challenges, employers must train and retrain the employees they have, attract skills — including those from nontraditional paths — and build a talent pipeline so there are more skills available in the future.

Lars Schmidt, the founder of the HR consultancy Amplify: Investing in employees’ career developmentLars Schmidt.Schmidt.

Courtesy of Lars Schmidt

The volatility of the job market over the past several months reinforced the idea that most companies prioritize their own bottom lines when the economy tightens. Layoffs, especially in tech, ballooned.

In 2023, employees will respond by focusing more on what’s best for them when making career decisions. They’ll be much more interested in learning-and-development opportunities, mentorship, coaching, and career development, in addition to compensation. Economic headwinds won’t stall the need for in-demand talent.

Pat Wadors, the chief people officer at the software-development company UKG: Caring for employees in a tough economyPat Wadors.Wadors.

Courtesy of UKG

The task of balancing caring for their employees, caring for their customers, and caring for their organizations’ needs during tenuous economic times will challenge businesses. For HR teams in particular, caring for employees during turbulent times includes major decision points about the programs that matter to their people: compensation; benefits; learning and development; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives; flexible scheduling; community giving; and more.

Many companies naturally focus on their bottom lines and cost-cutting measures during a recession, which can impact employee morale, motivation, and turnover that could actually lead to even worse business performance.

Read the original article on Business Insider