The interview was originally published in HR Katha's HRForecast 2023.
2022 was a volatile year for HR & workforce
People are recreating their life as a result of the pandemic and the uncertain times that followed and, as a result, individualism is rising more than ever. The power dynamic has shifted, and employees are challenging their employment terms. For workers, especially those in the younger generation, a job no longer defines who they are. Employees today derive their identity through different pursuits and thus are questioning the exclusivity of their relationship with their employer. Employees are demanding greater participation in decisions about their jobs and working circumstances and are unwilling to be under constant pressure, stress and productivity scrutiny. When they felt they were not being heard, it resulted in reactions like the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting.
The epidemic also caused a shift in business models, with everyone shifting online, creating a huge demand for digital and technology workers. Companies realised they could be productive even in an online world, since consumer demand remained fairly stable after the initial hiccup, so companies actively acquired people in anticipation of the uptick in demand. The Russia-Ukraine war, inflation and other macroeconomic issues began to dampen demand, and investment in start-ups too gradually dried up, forcing enterprises to right-size their staff to remain competitive.
2023: Will it be a turmoil again or peace?
The new year brings with it new opportunities, but it also comes with significant challenges for organisations, in which the CPO will have to play a key role. The world has mutated beyond VUCA to become a BANI world (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible). The constant dread of Covid variants, the Russia-Ukraine war, inflation, and climate change all create tension and anxiety, making it impossible for businesses to quantify the cause-effect of these issues, making them nearly incomprehensible.
Recession fallout: With one-third of the world being in recession, regardless of where you are located, this will have an impact in 2023. CHROs will have to walk a fine line between managing employee motivation in a brittle, stressed, burnout workforce and determining the optimum workforce size to control operating expenses.
Managing performance and productivity in a hybrid environment with technology-enabled tools will be an emphasis, as will maintaining an active organisational culture that is also inclusive. According to the most current Microsoft Work Trend Index (WTI), 93% of Indian workers believe they are productive in a hybrid setting, yet 91% of bosses say it is hard to trust their teams are actually productive. HR will need to actively collaborate to shape the hybrid arrangements, listen to their employees and solve the productivity conundrum.
More growth-oriented skills
It is anticipated that by 2025, 50% of all employees globally would need to reskill or upskill due to constant waves of new technology - World Economic Forum (WEF). Due to the lack of deep skills required by the business, proactive skill building and reskilling of the workforce will be the only option to move forward. As automation disrupts elements of most jobs, HR will be busy revamping its skill architectures, establishing skill data lakes, and re-architecting roles.
Investing in metaverse for workplace learning and training
The metaverse shows promise, but it is yet too early to declare success. This market’s offerings are quite new and expensive. Progressive HR organisations with the resources are embracing the Meta for employee onboarding, providing an immersive day-in-the-life experience for their prospective candidates, virtual collaboration, and relocating some of their training parts to the metaverse. More solutions will emerge in 2023, which bodes well for future traction in the following year.
Technology or new world of work reshaping people managers?
There has been much debate regarding the future of work and the role of people managers. While some experts believe that automation and artificial intelligence will eventually replace much of the work currently carried out by people managers, others think that human judgement and creativity will always be necessary. People managers will most certainly continue to play an important role in the workplace. People managers are in charge of supervising a team’s work, offering assistance and direction, and assisting staff members in strengthening their professional networks and developing their talents. People managers may need to adjust to new technology and ways of working in the future, but they will still play a vital role. The function of people managers could also alter as the nature of the workforce evolves. They may need to be more competent at managing remote teams or assisting employees in navigating the challenges of the gig economy, for example.
Overall, the future of work is unknown, but people managers are likely to continue to play an important part in any organisation’s success.
Redesign the workplace for hybrid workforce
Organisations will need to adapt their workplaces to support the hybrid nature of work. The office will evolve from a location where people gather to perform work to a place where they may collaborate on ideas and create human connections. Some of the elements listed below must be considered for an effective hybrid model.
• Determine which jobs and functions are suitable for hybrid arrangements, as not all roles can be effectively performed remotely. Some roles may also require active supervision, cooperation, and in-person interactions, which will necessitate working from the office.
• Policies, rules, and job aids for hybrid working are being developed. It will be necessary to define clearly what constitutes work hours, role expectations, overlap hours, and the responsible use of office resources and technology.
• The provision of technology that’s free from obstacles and enables smooth collaboration and productivity management.