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The Year in Review: 2023 Edition
As we prepare for the onslaught of “the year ahead” posts from various and sundry pundits, vendors, HR bloggers and LinkedIn “Influencers.” I thought it might be interesting to look BACK at what transpired in 2023.
This year, like those that came before, has continued to see an increasing number of HR leaders becoming integral to their organization's strategic initiatives. In 2023, more organizations recognized the strategic value of HR departments in areas like growth, innovation, and operational efficiency and we’ve specifically seen movement in how HR’s focus on the employee experience (EX) is increasingly being tied to business outcomes. Employee experience (EX) management lies in listening - not just surveying - and HR teams have been moving beyond traditional surveys to more holistic approaches, such as tapping into other feedback sources and demonstrating to employees that their feedback is valued and effective.
But what other significant changes has 2023 brought us in the workplace, amongst Human Resources professionals, and on the legislative and compliance front?
Hybrid Work Model: The post-pandemic workplace evolved to embrace a hybrid work model, which combines in-office and remote work. This approach has been increasingly adopted by companies to both enhance employee productivity and increase satisfaction. As of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model. Deloitte's survey shows that 56% of employed adults work from home at least some of the time, with 34% maintaining a hybrid schedule.
“Human” Leadership: 2023 highlighted a growing emphasis on empathetic, adaptive, and authentic leadership – focused on improving company communications, teamwork, investing in employees, and encouraging feedback – and works in concert with hybrid work models and the aforementioned employee experience (EX). The need for leaders, managers, and line supervisors to be fully equipped to “manage” (and lead!) their teams with a people-first focus continued to gain steam this year.
Focus on “Healthy” Organizations: There's been a shift from focusing solely on employee well-being to a broader concept encompassing physical health, mental well-being, financial fitness, social health, and ensuring a safe workplace. A key component of this includes not losing sight of DEI&B (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) initiatives and outcomes – especially with our evolving work models.
The HR Professional
Generative AI: ChatGPT launched just one year ago, and this easy-to-use (and easy-to-understand) tool has greatly accelerated HRs interaction with Artificial Intelligence. In 2023, Generative AI (GenAI) made significant strides in transforming various aspects of HR, bringing both efficiency and personalization to the forefront. GenAI has improved employee self-service by offering more conversational workflows and tailored information, making systems more user-friendly and encouraging greater adoption among employees. In addition, Generative AI demonstrated its potential to increase HR productivity through the deployment of solutions like chatbots and automation tools, which can free up significant time and allow HR practitioners to focus on more strategic tasks rather than administrative work. In fact, one study found that business professionals who used AI could write 59% more business documents per hour…so just imagine how that can help HR practitioners with the day to day!
Skills and Upskilling: Adopting lessons learned from the pandemic, HR continued to pay attention to upskilling (for employees and themselves!) to adapt to unexpected events. This has included enhancing employee experience (EX) management capabilities, which helps organizations improve key experiences (product, brand, customer, employee) and anticipate issues proactively. And, through the use of Generative AI, HR professionals have been able to facilitate development by helping employees understand their career opportunities based on their skill set. For instance, an intelligent chatbot powered by GenAI can suggest potential job roles and necessary learning experiences based on an individual's skills and experiences.
The Legislative and Legal Environment
Pay Transparency Laws: In several states, including Rhode Island, California, and Washington, pay transparency laws were implemented or revised (revisions included covering employers with as few as 1 employee) while many other states and local jurisdictions, of course, have had pay transparency requirements on the books for years. In addition, in March 2023, the Salary Transparency Act and Pay Equity for All Act were introduced in Congress and, if passed, they would require all US employers to disclose wage ranges associated with all employment opportunities and prevent employers from asking job candidates about their salary histories.
Independent Contractors vs. Employees: The legal determination of independent contractors versus employees remained a critical topic. The Department of Labor proposed a new independent contractor test under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which emphasizes a multifactor, totality-of-the-circumstances analysis to determine employment statu, and in October, the Department of Labor sent the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
Rise in Union Organizing: Despite a slight dip in private sector unionization, unions won more elections to represent private sector employees in 2022 than in any year since 2005. As we moved into 2023, more employers realized the importance of focusing on employee relations, proactively reviewing compensation and benefits, and developing communication strategies. This trend emphasized the need for HR to engage in proactive employee satisfaction efforts and adjust to evolving workplace realities.
Whew! We’ve done a lot in 2023!
So what will 2024 bring? Keep your eyes peeled for our 2024 predictions – because, after all, you didn’t think we would let the New Year approach without pontificating about the future…did you?