While life finally feels like it’s returning to normal (fingers crossed), the aftermath of the pandemic unfortunately isn’t going to disappear with the new year.
In saying that, 2023 is already shaping up to have a new range of opportunities and challenges in store for workplaces and managers with direct reports, in particular.
From figuring out your work-from-home policies to preparing for an onslaught of annual leave requests, these are the four big employee trends you’ll need to concentrate on in 2023.
Your WFH policy
From what we’ve seen and heard from candidates we’ve worked with, many companies still don’t have a clear work-from-home policy. And it’s leaving their employees - new and old - scratching their heads, wondering if they’re eligible and what the company’s parameters are.
A work-from-home policy is an agreement between an employer and an employee detailing expectations and responsibilities when undertaking remote work.
A company's WFH policy should also include:
Who is eligible to work from home
How employees can request to work from home
What the approval process is and how long it takes
Remote work is the new normal — it’s grown over 91% in the last 10 years. And it’s not a passing fad.
When surveying our database of candidates, we found that almost 40% of current, or recent employers did not allow their employees to work from home. Of that group, 80.7% wished their employers did allow them to work remotely.
If you don’t allow your employees to work from home either full-time or part-time (though, from the candidates we’ve surveyed, the majority would prefer to work from home 3 days per week), now is the time to implement it.
If you are unsure where to start with writing a WFH policy, we’d like to recommend this free guide.
Encourage your employees to take care of their mental health
This year, a big part of managing employees will be avoiding employee burnout and putting quiet quitting behind us. In other words, employers must prioritise employee mental health and wellness.
Not only does a workplace that cares about employee mental health improve staff morale and engagement, but it also helps attract and retain great talent. When you’re known for creating a positive work environment that puts employee well-being first, you’ll certainly have your pick of candidates to choose from when hiring.
But it’s not enough to simply talk about mental health as a priority (although this is a great start), you need to follow through with action.
Here are some ways to start:
Offer flexible working arrangements to your employees. Research from the WGEA shows that flexible work improves employee well-being and reduces exhaustion, burnout and fatigue.
Ask your employees how they’re managing their current workload. They might not want to complain, but assess if they’re taking on too much and adjust where you can.
Vocalise to your employees that they’re not expected to work overtime and during lunch. Try not to correspond with your employees outside working hours, and encourage employees to respond to clients, stakeholders or coworkers only during contracted hours as well.
Consider what benefits you can offer your employees. For example, you could give your employees 1 day every quarter, planned or unplanned, to take off (this shouldn’t affect their annual leave or sick leave days). They can do whatever they want with this day; spend it with family, and friends or just take a well-needed break.
Lead by example — how are you taking care of your health and well-being?
Focus on engaging your team
After a turbulent few years, we’re hoping 2023 will be the year workplaces find some stability. Due to ongoing changes during the pandemic, proactively engaging your employees was probably not a high priority.
According to recent research by Qualtrics, from the start of the pandemic, employees have been operating at surge levels. Meaning, they’ve been “working longer and harder to ensure their communities and businesses continue to thrive”.
In 2023, (as we began to see in 2022) employees are going to continue to reclaim their boundaries. That's great news — we shouldn't ask, nor should our employees feel obligated, to take on more responsibilities than their contract stipulates.
However, now that companies and employees are exiting crisis mode, employers need to focus their attention back on re-engaging their staff.
When managing employees, consider what they need from you in order to feel satisfied at work. Is there a way you can demonstrate your company culture and remind your employees what your company's values and mission are?
Engaged employees are happy and excited to work for their company. It improves their loyalty, productivity and company profits. In fact, companies with higher engagement see an average of 20% higher sales than companies with disengaged employees.
You can build employee engagement by:
Increasing communication with your employees, both formally and informally. Make yourself available to answer or assist with work-related queries, but also ask your employees questions about their life outside of work. This shows you value them as whole people, not just by what they contribute to the company.
Keeping them up to date with company news and events. No one likes being left out. Everyonesocial says, “Invest in keeping your people informed and they’ll feel more invested in your company” and we couldn’t agree more.
Rewarding your employees regularly. Providing incentives has been shown to help people engage in behaviours — but they need to be obtainable in order to work. Also, when it comes to managing employees, remember how effective praise can be.
Prepare for employees to take more annual leave
The uncertainty around domestic and international travel, coupled with increased workloads, has led to an accumulation of leave balances. This means companies need to prepare for more staff taking longer holidays in 2023.
Here’s what you can do:
Have open communication with your employees about their annual leave. It’s important that annual leave doesn’t stack up to the point where it harms company efficiency and productivity.
Taking annual leave is also important for work-life balance, so make sure this is communicated.
Regularly ask your employees if they’re considering taking leave. Even if they’re only in the ideation stage of a potential holiday, it’s helpful to be in the know.
If you already know 2023 is going to be a big year for staff holidays, plan in advance by hiring temporary workers.
Do you need the assistance of a recruitment agency? People in Focus can help. Head to our contact page now.
You may also close over holidays for longer than usual, since most of your staff will be away (such as Christmas and Easter).
Some of your staff may be planning a stint of international travel, which means they’ll be away for longer. We would recommend being open to the idea of employees travelling while working remotely.