As one year closes and another begins, it’s always a time of reflection, planning, and predictions. After the turbulence of the last two years, it was encouraging to see a return to a level of pre-COVID “normal” across workplaces. However, as the saying goes, change is the only constant, so as you’re finishing 2022, here is our wrap-up of the key trends likely to be front and centre for attracting and retaining the best talent in 2023. 

The influence of the COVID-19 years on future talent management.

 Unsurprisingly, the pandemic years gave rise to a new wave of HR trends, employee expectations, and employer practices, which are fast becoming ingrained. The first months of the pandemic and global lockdowns were a stark shock for most workplaces. The initial priority was health, safety, and wellbeing, rapidly followed by the technology to enable hybrid working models.

With subsequent COVID waves, all sectors experienced restricted talent flow, due partly to worldwide travel bans and partly to employee (and employer) realisations about work-life priorities. Hybrid working models enabled the kind of workforce relocation on a scale never seen and let more individuals answer questions like ‘what is truly important to me?’ and ‘what really matters?’ with a sea-change, tree-change, and me-change.

Generally, employers listened, and the market saw greater employee-centricity and committed programs around Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). For talent management, the ‘social’ aspect of ESG is expected to remain a focus in 2023.

The rebalance of hybrid, remote, and traditional work, and the rise of “A3” work.

Even at companies that have made progress in establishing a new business-as-usual approach to hybrid and remote work, there remains much work to be done with the emergence of new, previously unconsidered challenges.

This theme remains top of mind for many C-suite executives, outside the mechanics of having the enabling technology in place. There is a growing recognition among HR and leadership teams that sustained high performance is directly linked to employees regularly disconnecting, turning off, and resting. Supporting that team nourishment while running a business with hybrid and remote models is new ground for many organisations.

Encouragingly, the rise of the “A3” workplace (working Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere) creates tremendous opportunities for organisation to engage talent globally.

Soft skills take centre stage.

People have always left jobs because of people, and this won’t change next year. Employees want and need managers who are authentic and empathetic. While this is not earth-shattering news or even a new trend, employee power to find other employment opportunities is at an all-time high, further compounding management stress around talent shortages and business disruption through talent churn. While commercial outcomes always matter, a recent study showed employees self-report that 31 percent of conversations with managers are basic or bad, with little or no focus on well-being or development. In 2023, like their teams, managers need support through additional training and resources to improve soft skills.

An upswing in portfolio careers and short-term hiring.

An emerging executive search trend shows a rising number of people seeking project-based or flexible work opportunities over the security of a full-time job and growing enthusiasm for portfolio careers. (A portfolio career is made up of a variety of different roles rather than one job at a single organisation).

Parallel to the rise of the portfolio career and facing a tight talent market, more employers are turning to contract employment and appointing interim talent to meet workforce needs, particularly for timebound projects or short-term backfills, while still searching for permanent employees.

Pay is meaningful but don’t overlook the power of purpose.

LinkedIn’s Global Talent trends research consistently shows that compensation and benefits are a leading candidate priority, followed by work-life balance and flexible working models. While employee expectations for remuneration are rising quickly, so is inflation, and employers must keep pace with local economics and market conditions to attract and retain the best talent. A recent PwC study revealed job fulfilment, working for an organisation that contributes to society, and the ability to be one’s true self at work also rank among employees top five priorities when considering a job change[1].

Internal mobility is on the rise.

Facing the challenges of ongoing economic uncertainty, a tight talent market, and nurturing employee morale, many organisations are prioritising internal mobility. In 2023, leaders will likely continue investing in reskilling and upskilling existing employees to prepare them for more extensive and technical roles. The process is a good one, as it supports employees' progress in their chosen fields, leading to team growth and professional satisfaction, and benefiting the company while targeting external recruitment on the most critical roles.

Enter Gen Z. 

From 2023, Gen Z will enter the workforce in junior-level roles. The first generation to never know the world without the internet, Stanford-affiliated research shows Gen Z are reputed to be highly collaborative, self-reliant, and pragmatic. Entrepreneurial and looking for a sense of ownership, this new wave of employees value diversity, finding their unique identities, and bring expectations for speed and virtual accessibility. They also want to tackle complete projects that help them develop their skills, with nearly one in five Gen Zers stating they would stay at an employer that offers upskilling/reskilling and internal mobility.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

As more organisations embrace the business case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), talent management and sourcing will reflect the same. Organisations with DEI programs should stay the course, and for those lagging in adoption, 2023 is the time to get started. Candidates today expect and want to work for diverse organizations. You'll likely miss out on great talent if you can't offer a diverse workplace.

The growing significance of company branding for executive search. 

Company branding is growing in importance to ensure candidates understand a firm’s mission, values, and purpose. Branding is also critical for contextualising how an organisation will safeguard employee well-being, engagement, and satisfy their personal and professional ambitions. In candidate-driven markets, name recognition and reputation go a long way to attracting, and keeping, high-performance talent.

Morgan Young is Asia-Pacific’s leading independent executive search and leadership advisory firm. Our team of Principals is well-connected, highly regarded and engages clients and candidates daily to stay on top of emerging talent trends. For more insights like this or to discuss talent strategies unique to your challenges, please contact us anytime.