What does the future of work look like? This is probably the most prevalent question in the HR and work domain in recent times.
Pre-Covid 19, different theories emerged about the future of work, all attempting to speculate on how people, the workplace, and hiring would transform the future. As we witnessed, the pandemic sped up some of the speculation by accelerating the adoption of remote work across companies globally. Post-2020, many traditional companies evolved to hybrid working conditions, some retained the fully remote culture, especially for distributed teams, and a few re-instituted on-site resumptions.
Last year saw major layoffs across organisations globally, especially those within the technology space. Several other companies initiated hiring freezes till 2023, sparking uncertainty and leaving Human Resource professionals with piles of work on their desks – to ensure that outgoing employees navigate their transition smoothly and to implement improved internal conditions for the remaining team members.
While experts credit the global economic downturn for the massive layoffs actions, it does stir up other mind-boggling concerns. Are skills no longer sufficient to hold one’s job, or is there a global dearth of required skills? Are young talents not living up to expectations? Whatever the case may be, one thing that’s certain is that HR professionals have a lot of work to do.
In 2023, HR experts are confronted with making decisions that will likely shape the retention of talents, as they continue to manage investments in people and technology while creating a positive culture for employees. In this article, we sample the thoughts of top Human resource managers, Heads of People and Culture, Chiefs of Staff, C-Suite Executives and CEOs on HR trends industry leaders should watch out for in 2023.
What will shape the future of work in 2023?
According to Leul Girma, COO at Gebeya, Africa’s leading freelance and talent sourcing platform, “As 2022 comes to a close, it is clear that the future of work is online and on-demand. This quarter’s massive layoffs at several large tech firms show that organisations are looking to scale down their teams and reduce costs. Businesses looking to scale have needed to shorten their hiring timelines and augment their teams in order to leverage resources as they need them. The typical 2-3 months hiring cycle that requires sifting through hundreds of resumes don’t work for immediate hiring needs and short-term projects. Flexible, nimble team structures are an organisation’s superpower.”
Jemima Karugu, Head of Talent & Human Capital GrowthAfrica Foundation, Nairobi, says employee well-being is paramount to the future of work in 2023.
“In the wake of the pandemic, many employees are more aware and demand well-being as a minimum from their employers; well-being is divided into three buckets. First, is mental, which involves leveraging solutions to provide mental support to struggling employees with a greater emphasis on work-life balance. Second is financial, compensation as a trend is making a comeback due to the global inflation currently being experienced and the need to feel financially secure in case of any eventuality. The third is physical, employees are looking for more inclusive workspaces, that promote well-being and healthy habits.”
Key 2023 trends that will shape the HR landscape in Africa
Folasele Vincent Akinloose, Team Lead, Faculty Management at FCMB, Nigeria’s leading commercial bank highlights two key trends. “Reshaping Workplace Learning and Development – with increased workforce mobility and the depletion of the skilled talent pool in Africa, there exist a need for HR to rise to this challenge through strategic hiring and continuous training. Organisations should start investing in L&D.”
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion – this is one of the behavioural HR components attracting global attention, and also capable of boosting engagement and reducing turnover. HR needs to develop and execute flawlessly the DEI policy,” he explained.
According to Adesola Awofeso, HR Lead at Axxela Group, sub-Saharan Africa’s leading gas and power portfolio company, “Quiet quitting might become predominant, especially as many skilled talents are fixated on migrating for more reasons not limited to the quality of life and economic gains.”
To navigate this trend, however, Dominic Ryan, Managing Director of DWR Expatriate & Executive Search – Ghana, Nigeria & West Africa noted that “The nurturing of the domestic market to bring executives up to a higher standard, thus reduce the need for external placements (ex-pats), coupled with the expansion of the economy in certain sectors, and foreign investment which will encourage growth in domestic employment opportunities.”
How can people leaders prepare for the future of work?
As Girma, COO Gebeya explained, “a healthy feedback culture is critical. Understanding global trends in compensation, benefits, and remote work are important to stay competitive; but being in tune with the specific needs of your own workforce is important to stay relevant. Keep in mind personal and lifecycle factors like age, the pursuit of higher education, and parental status that might mean your employees crave benefits like tuition/ daycare assistance, or a salary advance to move into their first home. These perks are only worth investing in if your team members want and can take advantage of them.”
Also commenting, Tosin Ajayi, HRBP at Reelfruit added, “Irrespective of the number of years an employee stays on a job, people leaders should ensure that employees have good employee experience that will help their brand. Organisations should see training intervention as a contribution such that this would enrich the overall professional market with competent hands. People will keep scouting for better opportunities, but you could keep them as your veterans.”
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