Learning & Development Asia 2024
HR in 2023: 5 trends shaping the employee experience

HR in 2023: 5 trends shaping the employee experience


It's time for HR to focus more on empowering managers as the bridge between their team and the organisation, as well as to emphasise the value of trust at the workplace.

2022 saw many trends and phenomena that kept leaders on their feet – such as the Great Resignation and talent shortage, quiet quitting, the rise of distributed workplaces, and more, causing leaders to re-evaluate their employee experience strategies.

And with 2023 here, it is now time for organisations to look at new and improved ways to attract, retain, and nurture top talents as we address these changes. Organisations need to, in fact, undertake proactive measures to transform the employee experience for the better, as EngageRocket's HR Outlook 2023 points out.

With that in mind, the report highlights five key trends for HR leaders to note, along with focus areas in tackling these trends over the year.

Trend #1: Moving from fragmented culture, to fragmented loyalty

Cultural fragmentation – wherein an organisation sees sub-groups with their own sub-cultures, instead of one unified way – is often noticed in distributed workplaces, where employees are working out of different locations. In 2022, this became more long-lasting, dubbed by the report as "fragmented loyalty". "As employees work in a hybrid manner as the new normal, loyalty is strong within micro-communities and employee groups that are not always connected to the larger workplace," it noted.

To tackle this as it continues in 2023, leaders can consider the following two focus areas:

Leverage team and community building to drive organisation-wide connection
Provide the means and channels for better collaboration, especially across different functional groups. Leaders can also create a unified sense of purpose across teams in order to motivate them to work towards a joint vision.

These can include taking actions such as inter-departmental happy hours, combined teams brainstorming sessions, or cross-team collaboration projects.

Empower managers to be the connecting bridge between team members and the organisation
Managers, as we know, hold the key to fostering cross-team connections as they know their team members at the individual level. Each manager should therefore have the autonomy they need to allow and encourage cross-team collaboration. 

To enable this, leaders should look at providing them with the support and guidance they need to better engage their teams.

Trend #2: Tackling the root cause of disengagement, and not its symptoms 

No doubt, the phenomena cited above can all be traced back to deep-seated disengagement. For instance, the Great Resignation at the height of the pandemic revealed gaps and shortcomings in areas such as organisational support, work-life balance, and wellbeing; while quiet quitting saw employees "logging off" long ago and deciding not to go above and beyond in their roles. 

Seeing that the reason for disengagement can vary by organisation, and even by team, leaders must now look into identifying these real gaps in the employee experience, and create new ways to keep employees engaged and happy.

Areas to focus on:

Offer a reason to stay engaged through a purpose-driven culture
Invest in "benefits" that go beyond a transactional nature. These may be done through actions such as team-building exercises, guiding managers to be mentors, and focusing on building a safe, cohesive culture that centres around a shared organisational mission.

Help managers step up as leaders
Provide managers and leaders with the training they need to detect disengagement and stem it at the grassroots level, as well as give guidance on how managers can better nurture their team members and keep them engaged. Some ways this can be done include one-on-one conversation frameworks, guiding them towards meaningful conversations about mental health issues at work, and having a clear leadership framework that managers can refer to at all times.

Conduct regular feedback collection programmes
Real data collected from employee feedback goes a long way addressing employee disengagement, so if you do not have such a system in place, it is time to look into implementing programmes such as employee experience surveys, and review sessions.

Trend #3: Trust takes on new meanings and dimensions

Having teams working in different locations may be causing a strain on many existing relationships at the workplace, with managers struggling to engage, connect with, and motivate their teams remotely. At the same time, employees are demanding flexibility as part of table stakes, no longer viewing it as a differentiator.

As a result, leaders need to find ways to allow and support remote/hybrid work without challenging any strained bonds. After all, it is this mutual trust that will play a big role in keeping employees engaged at work. Here are some areas of focus HR can look at this year:

Understand and build upon the new dimensions of trust, and place trust at the centre of your employer value proposition
With trust taking on new meaning during the pandemic, the importance of gaining employees' feedback and input has come even further into the spotlight.

Additionally, acknowledge that flexibility is no longer a differentiator in today's war for talent. Leaders should make it known to employees (prospective and current) that the employer has trust in each individual to get their work done, without rigid constraints to schedule or location. Employee performance should also not be appraised by criteria such as the number of hours online, or how often employees go into the physical office. 

Trend #4: The urge to rush towards restoration

Since the second quarter of 2022, some companies have brought their employees back to the office, be it full-time or hybrid – a clear indication that many would like to move towards pre-pandemic levels of productivity and business performance, the report noted.

However, employees may be experiencing a plateu in their drive for productivity amidst all this, as they adjust back to "normalcy" and see less of a need for upskilling and reskilling to adapt to the times. That, coupled with a shift in employees; priorities, are thus posing a challenge for employers in finding a balance in 2023.

Areas HR could focus on:

Democratise post-pandemic decision-making processes
Allow employees to have a say in the way forward, by asking them questions, being transparent, and involving them in decision-making ideas/strategies that will make them feel more valued and heard. 

Reward loyalty by prioritising employee wellbeing
Strive to find a balance between productivity goals and employee wellbeing, seeing that the two are, indeed, directly correlated.

Trend #5: New expectations around employee wellbeing

While mental wellbeing at work has always been a matter of utmost importance, it was further emphasised during the pandemic, driving organisations to take steps to address the issue. In tandem, wellbeing, especially in terms of mental health, will continue to be a top priority in 2023. 

In that vein, organisations must invest in measures that build mental resilience in their workforce, while supporting employees through a positive and balanced professional environment. Some focus areas for HR in this include:

Invest in end-to-end wellbeing paltforms and initiatives
Leaders should consider moving beyond employee assistance programmes and mental health days that offer occasional and reactive support; and move towards more comprehensive, long-term, end-to-end support.

Create safe spaces for mental health covnersations
Empower managers to be mental health champions within their teams, and provide them with resources that guide them on how to conduct mental health conversations.

Measure wellbeing with the correct metrics
Look at implementing a more holistic measurement of employee wellbeing, one that also includes burnout levels and one's ability to cope with challenges.

Lead image / Shutterstock

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region! 

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window