What employees want in 2023

burnout hr trends remote work Jan 02, 2023

Happy New Year!

I hope you have had some time to pause and reflect as we roll into a new year. 2023 will likely be another interesting year for HR and people development folks as we continue to wrestle with the COVID fallout, inflation, and recessionary pressures. 

There have been a number of articles predicting 2023 HR trends and I wanted to weigh in in this blog post and on my brand new podcast, The Workplace Edit

Bloomberg recently surveyed workers to see what they want most in 2023. in addition to a healthy salary that is keeping pace with inflation, here is what employees want:

Remote work

Workers continue to want to be able to work remotely when they can. WFH Research shows that 30% of work days are from home as of December 2022 and it's predicted to stay at about those levels even though many bosses would prefer to see a return to the office. I think the challenge is for organizations to discover why people want to work from home. As humans, we are hardwired to be social and studies around adult loneliness indicate that remote work has not been great for our happiness levels. If people are choosing to not come into work, it's important to explore the root cause. Perhaps people are not being paid enough to live close to the office and the commute is expensive and time consuming. Perhaps people are facing micromanagement or bullying behavior at work and remote work feels emotionally safer. Perhaps people don't have time to get personal things done like picking up kids from school or going to the dentist and it's easier to balance everything working from home. If organizations want people back int he office and traveling for work, they need to address the root cause of the resistance and offer some incentives. 


Bloomberg also cites flexibility as a must-have for employees. Employees want to work from home when they desire and choose their work hours. There are lots of benefits to working from home but there are also benefits to gathering together as a work community. In 2023, organizations will be challenged to find some core hours where employees can work together. They will also need to find ways to create employee engagement in hybrid or remote work. Many organizations are appointing Chief Remote Officers to help make this happen. People development processes like employee on-boarding, training and development, and team building will also change to accommodate remote work. One of the drawbacks of blurring lines between work and home is that workers can experience burnout. It's important that if employees are working a "triple-peak workday," they are setting boundaries and are protecting themselves from burnout. 

Sustainable Work

The Bloomberg study notes that workers are exhausted and they are quitting and getting sick. The days of seeing people as "resources" from whom value can be extracted are over. Employees with choice are choosing to leave. Regenerative work with build in periods of recovery will become the norm and workplaces that can figure out how to make this happen will have a competitive advantage. Just as organizations are trying to make their organizations more sustainable in terms of the impact on the environment, they can also focus on creating sustainable work from a people perspective. Smart organizations are redesigning their systems to build in space for employees to recharge. 

Financial Benefits

In addition to a healthy salary, Bloomberg notes that employees seek other forms of financial benefits to offset inflation. In the survey, employees cited tuition assistance, elder-care and childcare. Employees seem less concerned about retirement and more concerned with offsetting current rising expenses. 

Job Security

After a number of well-publicized layoffs in 2022, employees are concerned about job security. New recruits want to make sure that there is some job security before signing on with an organization. Current employees will spend a lot of time searching for a new and more stable job if they feel their financial security is threatened. HR would be wise to take a long-term view of things and push back on management that wants to make people cuts as a way to salvage the quarter. One troubling trend we've seen are for companies to rescind offers to recent grads and coop students. The reputational damage this does to a company with future talent far exceeds the savings of relatively low salaries. HR's role is to remind the CEO and finance that people decisions should extend well beyond the quarter. 

Some other trends when it comes to employee wants include a strong desire for salary transparency as well as a clear path to promotion. They also want discrimination and systemic biases to be addressed in a real and meaningful way. 

2023 promises to be another challenging year for those who work in HR and people development. There is more recognition around the strategic importance of the people side of the business. For the first time, we are seeing CHRO as a path to CEO. Business has never been anything more than people providing products and services to help other people so it's time the people development function is elevated to a senior and strategic role. 



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