In a dark blue bubble on the left, white text reads 8 shifts employers can expect in 2023. On the right, behind a light blue background are two cropped images of women, Margaret and Robynne, who work at P4G. Margaret is wearing a red flower patterned shirt. Robynne is wearing a black long sleeve. There is small yellow bar along the bottom that says brought to you by Margaret and Robynne

9 Shifts Employers Can Expect in 2023

To better equip HR teams for the evolution of work, we’ve compared findings from 7+ reports anticipating both gradual and major shifts that employers can expect in the coming year.

Based on the findings and our own intersecting experiences, we share our top 9 suggestions to help hiring managers meet employees where they’re at in 2023.

Be flexible, in more ways than one.

Every study echoed the necessity of flexibility as a new normal. In fact, it’s been noted by job seekers as the #1 perk an employer can offer (Criteria Corp’s 2022 Candidate Experience Report). For employees, having flexibility around how and when they conduct their work is a must. But being flexible also means approaching individual employee needs with personalized solutions. At P4G we aim to embrace one-size-fits-one thinking. Think of it like Naheed Dosani:“#Equality is giving everyone a shoe. #Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.” Flexibility requires different shoes for different people.

And it shouldn’t need to be earned. We often hear hiring managers say they reward employees with more flexibility once they’ve been at the company for a long time. But if you trust someone enough to hire them for the job, this trust should transcend to how they do the job.

Invest in the people you have.

The evolving realities of work have sparked more focus on retention. Lattice’s 2023 State of People Strategy Report found that employers who have successful retention are linking compensation to performance, providing pay transparency equity (read our blog on this), and upskilling their employees. For example, our client JAYU, holds a policy that the highest paying position cannot make more than 3x the lowest paid position. High-retention employers are also known to conduct more performance reviews. Safe-Guard Global suggests conducting ‘stay interviews’ can pull more weight than exit interviews. This helps an employer get a pulse on what satisfies their employees and what support they need to grow professionally.

Manage equitable workloads: Employees aren’t oblivious to unfair distribution of work.

Post-pandemic and remote work has employers and workers alike, grappling with inconstant workloads and personal boundaries. In fact, a 2022 Mental Health in the Workplace Survey shows that more than ⅓ of employees reported an increased workload. The lines can blur when managers assume work-from-home employees are reachable online around-the-clock. Research shows that when high-performers are overworked they begin to resent that they’re doing more. And it’s no secret that women, particularly Women of Colour take the brunt of unfair distribution. A Harvard Business Review claims that Women of Color are asked to do ‘office housework’ more than public-facing work. This is a direct result of bias and prejudice related to both gender and race. One way to start avoiding unfair distribution of work, is to spend intentional time clarifying role descriptions and role transparency across a team.

Pay people what they are worth. 

Did you know on average, 60% of the workforce expects a raise more frequently than on the annual, according to Lattice? We’ve seen the recent shift where people are prioritizing values-alignment when seeking new opportunities (we live and breathe in this space), but this shift is not synonymous with being willing to take a pay cut for said purpose-aligned role. And the bad news, 75% of organizations haven’t yet developed compensation policies to account for rising inflation in Canada (according to the Conference Board of Canada). Recent findings show that students and new graduates are citing ‘stability’ as a priority in their job search, which was tied to the anxiety young people are experiencing in relation to inflation.

P4G client, the QEII Foundation, recently made an effort to ensure their salaries are reflective of the market. Just last year they engaged in an organization-wide salary review to maintain external competitiveness and internal equity. The review is just one element of an overall people strategy to build and enhance a high-performance culture (shared by Susan Mullin, CEO, QEII Foundation). 

Lean into feedback culture.

For most, direct reports are the consistent go-to for constructive feedback. But studies show that high-performing teams are more likely to leverage feedback and critical insights from other sources too. This means gathering conflicting perspectives from partners, clients, customers or board members. At P4G we love healthy tension, (introduced to us by Leaders for Leaders). And creating a good feedback culture requires it. Barack Obama was even quoted saying that ‘the transformational skill of leadership is to hold opposites in tension … It makes us better leaders.”

Here are the conditions we aim to create for healthy tension:

1) employees feel comfortable challenging each other without fear of retaliation or attack;
2) employees are eager to learn and grow from the productive feedback of others;
3) psychological safety is prioritized by everyone, vulnerability is embraced;
4) limiting narratives are not placed on people or their cultural identities.

Know when to source external consultants, particularly for DEIB work.

Even with the best of intentions, hiring an in-house lead for ‘People and Culture’ or Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) work, is not always the best first step for an organization. Particularly if the employer is early in their journey to undo systemic harm. We see it happen: DEIB leaders are hired into large institutions where executive leaders struggle to articulate to staff and stakeholders why this person is here. In the case where no former or similar role has existed, the job description might make this person unrealistically accessible to a swath of departments and projects outside the scope of their purpose. And often with no supportive measurement or accountability structure. This can spread thin their ability to nurture meaningful impact.

If an organization doesn’t know where to start, it helps to seek consultation from an external source (like Crayon Strategies or Indigenous Treaty Partners). They can apply a big-picture lens to your organization and help navigate problem-identification and importantly, create an environment where an in-house DEIB leader would be set up to succeed. 

Accessibility for a fully realized workplace.

Nearly 30 percent of Nova Scotia’s population identifies as having a disability(s). This is higher than in any other province in Canada and continues to grow every year. When considering intersectionality in efforts to create more equitable places to work, accessibility is integral to the process. But recently Harvard Business Review shared that 90% of companies claim to prioritize diversity, and only 4% consider disability in those initiatives. We’ve learned through our friends at Team Work Co-operative that when inclusion strategies are designed to foster accessibility and universal design – an approach built with the most marginalized in mind – the outcomes typically benefit everyone, regardless of intersectional identities. If your organization is wondering where to start on an accessibility journey, we recommend checking out our friend and partner TEAM Work Co-operative.

Develop Human-Centric Leaders.

Prioritizing people and making room for human complexities is becoming non-negotiable. Gartner HR emphasizes that today’s leaders need to lean deeper into authenticity, empathy and adaptivity. Once considered assets, these traits are now in high demand when employees seek out leaders to work for. What do we mean by human-centric? Dive deeper with us in our The Now of Work is Human’ blog.

Employees want to know their employer’s stance on social issues. 

According to Gartner HR, more employees than ever, want to talk about social justice issues at work. In our blog From Surviving to Thriving, Bradley Daye asks “if your organization promotes inclusion and belonging, what does this look like in action? How is the organization responding to societal problems that your employees care about and are affected by? Can leaders speak to their commitment to the community with confidence when asked by staff? Doing it right requires an investment of time and learning and investment into knowledge gaps. A simple way to think about this: if you asked any colleague why the leadership of that organization cares about ‘X problem’ what would they say? This is a great indicator of if, and how your why is getting through. 

This list is not comprehensive of everything employers can and should consider, but simply touches on a few that are imperative to our work. So let us know what we’ve missed and share in the comment section below!


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