2023 - You Are More Prepared Than You Think
2023, what now?
Over the last month I have read dozens of articles and listened to several podcasts trying to make predictions for work trends in 2023. The normal things you would expect to be there were included (new normal, post-covid work, return to office, hybrid work, wellbeing, etc.). But what has become clear to me through this exploration is that no one really knows what is next. I am sure we can all agree on some themes that will drive the world of work in 2023. But the truth is, just as work has evolved quickly from one extreme to another since March 2020 through now, this evolution is not done.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the PSPS Winter Thought Leadership event where a panel of HR leaders spoke about work trends for 2023. While there was, of course, discussion on the several trends that I mentioned above, one panelist shared an idea, a different approach to the new world of work, that resonated with me. This new way of thinking was about solving problems, and it’s not a one size fits all approach for all organizations. Instead of problem-solving based on predictions, adopt the idea that you don’t need to have all the answers for forever today; but rather you just need to have an answer today for now.
Over the last three years, leaders in organizations have felt compelled to solve problems that were ever evolving. One of the most prominent examples of this is Google. Starting first with their return to office mandate in 2021, followed by the salary cuts for remote employees announcement in 2022, and most recently the backlash from the layoff communication just last month, Google has been trying to respond to the evolution of work with large, company-wide changes that were shortsighted. In my opinion, the problem with Google’s approach is not necessarily the solutions they are proposing (although I didn’t necessarily agree with all these changes), but rather the breadth of problems they are trying to force the solutions to fix. A return to office mandate will not fix your culture and communication issues. Salary cuts for remote workers will not bring people back to the office or right-size your compensation structure. RIFs that focus on corporate overhead are more often short-term savings that require massive workforce planning issues longer term.
"A return to office mandate will not fix your culture and communication issues. Salary cuts for remote workers will not bring people back to the office or right-size your compensation structure."
I don’t think the evolution of our workplace is done. I don’t think hybrid is the new normal (shocking, I know). I don’t actually think we have seen the hardest changes that are coming for our economy. And therefore trying to solution today for problems of the future is unrealistic.
Josh Bersin, Global HR Analyst and Thought-Leader, said recently on his podcast "2023 is not a year to ponder the future. Rather it is the time to activate HR.” I think this is the mindset we need for 2023. We need to stop trying to predict what is next and rather, focus on solutions that work today. These solutions, though, must also be agile enough to pivot as the world continues to evolve. And if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the world will not stop changing for anyone, no matter how much we try to prepare and predict. We must lean into the growth and development we have gained through all the turmoil and remember we are more prepared than we think.
Bethany Adams, MA, SHRM-SCP is the Associate Director of Marketing and Strategy in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Connect with her on LinkedIn!