Blog post

3 workforce challenges employers must prepare for in 2023

In many ways, 2022 was one of the toughest years for companies and employees to date. 

Remote work sparked new tensions, with employers demanding a return to the office, and workers passionately resisting. Mass layoffs in big tech saw thousands of workers displaced and disillusioned by the industry. And the great resignation led employees who felt undervalued and overlooked to quit their jobs in search of better. 

But through these challenges, businesses developed a new level of resilience. And truth be told, businesses will need resilience for what lies ahead in 2023. 

Our relationship with work has never been more complex – or fascinating. Instead of building their lives around work, people are seeking out work that integrates with their lives. The pursuit of remote and flexible work signals a shift in power towards the employee, and this changing relationship dynamic leaves many of us trying to find our place within the workforce again. 

It’s an uncertain road ahead. But there are some workforce challenges that almost all employers will face in 2023. Let’s take a look at them in more detail. 

 

Quiet quitting

If you haven’t been keeping up with this movement, here’s a quick explainer: quiet quitting is where employees continue to uphold their main responsibilities, but no longer go above and beyond their duties. They psychologically detach themselves from work, turning down extracurricular and optional activities. 

Quiet quitting first gained traction on TikTok, but there’s evidence to suggest it’s more than an internet phenomenon. According to Gallup, an estimated 50% of the US workforce is made up of quiet quitters

man working from home

Now let’s be clear: employees aren’t technically doing anything wrong. The expectation that employees will go above and beyond their duties at the drop of a hat has become so normalised, that anything less creates problems for businesses. 

Often, bosses rely on being able to call on their employees to stay an extra hour, help plan a social event, or pick up someone else’s responsibilities if they are sick. When employees start rejecting these requests, businesses can struggle to plug the resourcing gap. 

But employers aren’t the only ones who suffer. Planning the office Christmas party or picking up a coworker’s duties for a day can help to build trust and camaraderie between team members, fortifying office relationships. 

 

When employees disconnect from the social and emotional aspects of the business, they build a wall between themselves, their team, and the wider business. This kind of siloed work has the potential to break down organisational culture

Ultimately, quiet quitting signifies a breakdown in the relationship between bosses and their employees. In 2023, employers should focus on repairing this relationship by managing expectations. 

Revisit your team’s job descriptions, and make sure they’re not being asked to take on more than they can handle. Work with your teams to distribute additional responsibilities fairly, and collectively decide how this should be rewarded. 

 

Cost of living stress

New research shows that 71% of employees say the cost of living is their main source of stress right now. This suggests there’s a high chance many of your people are feeling that strain too. 

With the cost of food, fuel, heating, and almost every other essential going up, paychecks aren’t going as far as they used to. Financial worry is invasive and all-encompassing, making it harder for people to focus on anything else. 

A survey found that employers are already seeing the effects of this crisis on workers’ performance. Bosses are reporting more absenteeism and lower engagement levels, as employee thoughts are dominated by rising costs. 

Businesses are also at the mercy of higher costs, whether that’s suppliers increasing their prices, or the office heating bill this winter. So, raising salaries to help workers cope with higher prices might not be an option. 

couple stressed with money

The outlook might seem bleak, but businesses are already coming up with thoughtful ways to help their people through the cost of living crisis. If you can’t increase salaries right now, think about how you can adjust your benefits package or provide additional benefits to ease some of the financial burdens. 

For example, subsidising childcare costs or heating bills are going to help your team manage day-to-day expenses. If you still have a physical workplace, you could introduce a communal fridge where people can pick up basic food items. 

Flexible working options might not seem like a cost of living response, but having the choice between working from home or the office means your team can make a decision based on what’s going to cost them the least (think: commuting versus heating their own home). 

 

Keeping up with tech

Since the dawn of time, technology has propelled a plethora of industries into the future. The plough revolutionised farming, the printing press helped news travel globally. 

The problem today is that technology is evolving so rapidly, businesses are struggling to keep up. This is likely to remain the case in 2023, where overstretched budgets coupled with a lack of digital skills make implementing new technologies even more difficult. 

Keeping up with technology matters because it helps businesses be more resilient in the face of adversity. Investing in cybersecurity and regulatory software helps businesses protect their data and stay on the right side of regulation. Automating certain aspects of project management can help your teams become more efficient, and free up time for them to spend on the more rewarding aspects of their job. 

 

Customers are also seeking out companies that are capitalising on technology. A report by Accenture found that businesses are struggling to remain relevant to their customers, who are demanding that companies respond to their product wants and needs faster. Businesses that use social listening technologies are better placed to respond to customer desires and can move ideas from the drawing board to the buyer more quickly. 

If you’re not in a position to start investing in the technology your business needs, at least start investing in your strategy. Digital transformation is a long-term investment, not a tickbox exercise. If you’re expecting to see huge returns for singular projects, you need to adjust your expectations. 

By building a long-term digital transformation strategy, you can invest a little bit at a time towards the projects that will be most beneficial for your company. And if money’s no object but skills are lacking, seek partnerships with institutions and learning programmes that can help you find the right people. Think code camps, technical colleges, and government-funded skills programmes. 

If you’re feeling apprehensive about what the next 12 months could hold, just remember: you made it through 2022 and the aftermath of a pandemic. Whatever 2023 throws your way, you and your team have the tools to handle it.

3 workforce challenges employers must prepare for in 2023 was last modified: December 19th, 2022 by Beatriz Araujo

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