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Putting the ‘Human’ back into HR – How to support your colleagues in 2023

With Covid cases gradually back on the rise, murmurs of general strikes, and the ongoing  cost-of-living crisis all fighting for attention at once, it’s very understandable that your workers might be feeling incredibly tense at the moment. Indeed. according to Ciphr, “two in three people (68%) have felt stressed or overwhelmed at times during the last few months because of increases to their cost of living”. 

Just as we were “all in this together” during the early days of the pandemic, we must revitalise this mentality so we can support each other through the latest struggles that we’ll all face in our personal and professional lives. To help do this, we asked leading HR experts how to put the human back into HR in 2023. 

Make Workspaces Accessible

Whether you’re hybrid working, fully remote, or have returned to the office, an accessible and comfortable workspace will help to reduce the stresses associated with modern working. Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager for the UK & Ireland at Ergotron, suggests that current and potential employees alike “will prioritise the way they are looked after in their workspaces when choosing an employer, and these changing expectations will drive the future of office design”. 

He suggests, “employers will need to invest in equipment and furniture that fits ergonomically with the technologies that we all use every day – such as desks, monitor mounts and chairs – and flexible working practices. While posture may seem like a detail, it can have a massive influence on worker happiness and productivity”. 

By “offering employees access to ergonomically designed workspaces that benefit both physical and mental health and to work where work happens will boost individual working experiences”, managers can “build more successful teams and make businesses more competitive in the challenging year ahead”.

Keep investing in people – your own and the next generation

Whilst times might be getting tougher economically, it can be tempting for organisations to delay or cancel training sessions for their employees. However, this is a surefire way to demonstrate to colleagues that your organisation cares about development. 

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft notes that  “technical IT certifications and power skills such as communication will likely top the list of most in-demand skills in 2023. Indeed, 96% of IT leaders believe that certified staff add value to their organisations, with certifications such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Professional) and AWS Certified Solutions Architect commanding salaries of over £100,000. Communication, resilience, analytical thinking and problem-solving will also be highly valued as employers look to develop lifelong learners who can adapt to the future of work”.

Continuing on this point, Jen Locklear, Chief People Officer at ConnectWise, predicts that “in 2023, employers will invest more in training and upskilling programs to equip workers with the skills they require”. In the tech industry specifically, demand is soaring for qualified technology workers with many of those positions going unfilled. In fact, research shows that 73% of business leaders predicted they would struggle to fill open technology roles in 2023”. 

For that reason, Locklear explains the benefits of the apprenticeship model which “is helping to match trained workers with a robust group of potential employers. So, when you think about how many people are trying to hire right now and how few skilled labourers they’re saying they can find, it’s great to be partnering with a company to make those resources available to them”.

Equally, organisations might be reluctant to expand their workforce as we approach uncertain economic waters. As Mark Hedley, Vice President of Talent Recruiting at G-P, notes, “headlines abound with gloom and doom news about a talent shortage, but when it comes to the knowledge-based economy, there is no shortage. There is talent everywhere, but firms need to be comfortable hiring people in countries they haven’t had experience with previously. Thinking globally is not a new thing for certain businesses, or sectors, but it can be new in terms of their approach to talent search in many cases. The talent is out there, you just need to know how and where to look for it.”

Therefore, focusing on the next generation of tech workers is just as important. “By 2025, Gen Z workers will make up nearly 30% of the entire workforce”, notes Gianna Driver, CHRO at Exabeam. “To continue to attract and retain top talent in 2023 and beyond, company leaders must listen closely to Gen Z voices. This generation typically aligns with organisations that can not 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”.

Caring is Key

Finally, this ‘all in this together’ mentality shouldn’t be remembered fondly as a relic of the pandemic. Instead, it should be a model that should be considered every step of the way into the New Year. 

Katie Kulikoski, Chief People Officer at Progress, expects “to build on” these attitudes “and push companies to keep widening this duty of care, differentiating themselves to retain key talent by taking an even more human-centric approach to leadership and management”. 

She concludes that in 2023, “there will be a continued push of the boundaries on how and where people work and a natural tension between employee and employer preferences. I predict the pendulum will come back to the middle eventually with people getting more comfortable coming together to use the workspaces available to them”.

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