The new year always presents a good opportunity to make some predictions about what lies ahead. Of course, nobody has a crystal ball, but it’s fun to think about what might happen next. Given that we’re in the field of workforce development, we thought that it would be fun to put a few ideas forward based on the trendspotting we’ve been doing.
Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.
Check that – it’s not just fun – it’s a good business exercise to look ahead. Being prepared is half the battle. Sometimes, that heads-up is all that we need to be more planful and ready to meet the challenge or opportunity when it comes into play because we anticipated it. As a Canadian, I’m inspired by role models like Wayne Gretzky. If we follow his lead, he said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.” With that, here we go …
2023 may be a mixed bag. We’ll have to wait and see. And we promise to return to this blog at the end of the year to see how many things we got right. Or wrong!
1) The Talent Tide Shifts: Less Recruiting Required to Access More Candidates
With the flood of layoffs in tech, the pool of available talent is growing. But not as much as you’d think. With more than six million new businesses launched in the USA in 2022 (that’s 4x higher than the average seen pre-pandemic), people are into doing their own thing versus working for you. And talent seems to be more talented year-over-year, so that’s a trend in your favor.
Rage applying has become, well, all the rage. With the number of toxic workplace events rising month after month, people have had it. Frustration coupled with new HRtech tools that enable candidates to apply with a single click has made it easy to apply for dozens of jobs within minutes.
With the work-from-home culture catching on, recruiting and hiring talent has become more accessible. Just as professionals can work from home, businesses and organizations can hire people without making them come to the office. It no longer matters if you’re in the EU or the US or somewhere else. Consequently, more jobs and career opportunities are available. Gen Z can afford to be choosy, and this is going to make it difficult for organizations that are less equipped to work without employee training to integrate multiple generations into the same workplace.
2) Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Becomes a Thing
Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” is a soft skill that rocketed up the charts in 2021, coming in from seemingly nowhere to the #5 soft skill as ranked by LinkedIn. Productivity is tanking because people are stressed out, not communicating effectively, and not getting along. Plus, there’s a whole lot of resistance to returning to the office.
A greater number of organizations will realize that unless close attention is paid to soft skills via employee training, no amount of technology is going to help. Leaders will need to become more sensitive towards multicultural and multiracial distinctions that leave an indelible mark on how people communicate with each other and how they perform in the workplace. Unconscious bias is a real phenomenon and conscious leadership is desperately lacking. Employers have a quarter or two to get on this EQ employee training requirement or their internal success metrics will start taking a hit.
For professionals, the ability to navigate emotional ups and downs and handle interpersonal relationships are going to be the keys to success. People seeking greater self-awareness and techniques to self-regulate their emotions will be in hot demand. At least that’s my guess!
But not many young employees are aware of this inherent need for professional development, despite showing signs of discontent and restlessness. The management will need to recognize the importance of providing learning opportunities to nurture others via emotional intelligence. Empathy training will also become a “thing” and will become an integral part of the work culture rather than being a buzzword. And it will be a demonstrable advantage for those who embrace conscious leadership.
Meditation and the practice of mindfulness will also become integrative approaches toward enhancing productivity. Trends are changing: people are more open to mind breaks. More teams will be going for “reset” to re-prioritize their approach to their daily responsibilities.
As more employees become acutely aware of their need to find a balance, they will become more vocal and consequently, there will be a greater number of complaints against toxic workplaces. In fact, many employees may themselves demand sensitisation and education for their managers and project leaders. Not only will complaints rise, but so will the amount of ghosting because, let’s be real, how many people are still following courtesy practices of 2-weeks’ notice and an exit interview?
3) Workplaces Will Not be Fun Spaces Anymore
Yup. The gig is up. All those special coffee, pool table, nap rooms, and other perks are probably going to disappear about as fast as employees exiting toxic workplaces. After taking over Twitter, Elon Musk demanded that employees report to the office at least 40 hours of work, and if they want to stay home, they should leave the company. The key words there are, “at least 40 hours,” as in, overtime is expected. He has repeatedly stressed that employees must adjust according to the needs of the office instead of the office adjusting to the needs of the employees. That’s a twist and a brave throw-down-the-gauntlet move in this era of recruiting challenges.
Other companies and organizations are likely to follow suit. Tech companies are looking for cost-savings approaches and layoffs aren’t the only means to that end. They may begin to insist that when employees come to the office, they focus on work and whatever recreation they seek, they should seek it outside of their professional environment. Yup, even tech will soon be labeled as a “fun sponge.”
4) Social Media and Advertising Will Decline
Not too many companies can afford to keep pouring in thousands of dollars into ads when users are in “ad overload” and scrolling right passed anything posted by a non-friend. Ad spending has been declining for months, and it shows no sign of going back up. Not a surprise, of course, given that ads cost about twice what they did at this time last year and click-rates are about half what they were a year ago. That bodes for poor ROI.
Everyone is afraid to say the “R” word (recession) but it’s here. Many organizations will focus on reducing their expenses in 2023. Marketing is often considered as a low-priority expense so the marketing budget and peeps doing the marketing are always among the first to get whacked. The same trend may continue in 2023 as more organizations will be pulling back on their social media efforts. With mental health on the decline and people increasingly taking temporary – or permanent – social media breaks, it’s getting harder to reach the target audience.
5) ChatGPT Will Negatively Impact Freelancers
It was a good gig while it lasted, I suppose. With marketing budgets shrinking or obliterated in some cases, why pay a blogger to write something that ChatGPT can crank out – for free – in a few minutes? Sure, there’s nuance, brand voice, and tone. Not to mention soft skills, but ChatGPT is a pretty quick study.
My prediction #5 ties back into my prediction #1. People left 9-5 jobs a while ago. Nomadic work and the allure of working for yourself, when you want and where you want tempted a lot of people. Now, you have more than 16 million freelancers on Upwork with everyone fighting for the dwindling number of gigs that AI can do or that aren’t being done anymore given budget cuts.
Commoditization is in full force when it comes to blogging. That said, a good chunk of freelancers that forayed into the wild and wonderful world of solopreneurship may be rethinking 9-5 and return-to-office opportunities. Making it on your own is hard – and it’s getting harder.
In 2023 and beyond, the workplace will be mostly virtual (especially non-factory or non-industrial work), diverse, and distributed. Or, at the very least, hybrid. Smaller organizations will be able to access greater talent from other parts of the globe via WFH tech and attitudes toward it. Organizations will come to grips with the great resignation and the quiet quitting movement by adapting to the “new normal” while maintaining productivity.
So, what’s going to make all the difference? Employee training and development. Communication skills, soft skills, interpersonal relationship skills, empathy, and emotional intelligence are the new heroes in the workplace.
Banner photo by fauxels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-using-virtual-reality-goggles-3183164/