International HR Trends for 2023

March 2023

Over the past number of years, HR professionals have been challenged like never before. 

The COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation and the cost of living crisis have caused the HR industry to face the future of work head on and adapt to changing employee expectations. 

As we head deeper into 2023, here are ten human resources trends teams will need to be aware of.

Employee mental health has always been a priority for HR teams, but with 49% of workers reporting feeling burned out, it’s more important than ever to invest in this area. A recent Surgeon General report found that 81% of workers say they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future. 

Employees and potential hires will be looking for a workplace that approaches mental health holistically - looking at all the factors, including compensation, diversity and inclusion, flexibility, and any other areas that could impact wellbeing at work. 

Following on from the change in employee attitudes during the COVID-19 pandemic, workers are more focused than ever on how their current roles can aid in them achieving their long-term career goals. Research at Gartner found that 44% of workers do not believe their organisation has a compelling career path in place, with just 1 in 4 employees having confidence about their career at their organisation. 

To avoid further employee churn, today’s HR leaders must focus attention on long-term prospects for employees and invest in their skills to benefit both them and the organisation. 

With the rise in AI technologies, many employees may be feeling anxious about how their skills translate to the future of work. However, this shift to AI-powered tools has caused a shift in priorities for hiring teams - towards the human side. 

Pearson’s Skills Outlook report on “Power Skills” found that, while technical skills remain highly valued, the top five most sought-after skills for new hires are all humanity-focused. They are:

  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Leadership
  • Attention to Detail
  • Collaboration

With workers reporting increasingly high rates of burnout, managers should make their relationships with their employees a top priority for 2023. Harvard Business Review lists four cornerstones of a healthy employee-manager relationship. These are:

  • Trust: Being honest and transparent with employees
  • Shared commitment and accountability: Hold each other accountable throughout projects and tasks, and set a strong example as a leader
  • Frequent check-ins: Meet regularly, giving your team member the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions whenever they need to
  • Public praise: Where appropriate, amplify your employee’s contributions and give them the praise they deserve

Employing freelance staff is becoming increasingly popular in many industries, as organisations seek to ‘fill the gaps’ on high-priority projects with highly skilled self-employed staff. In 2021, Staffing Industry Analysts reported that there were 52 million contingent workers in the U.S, representing 35% of all workers. 

With so many choosing to manage their own workload and schedule by going freelance, HR departments should be well-equipped to transition smoothly to using contingent workers wherever they are needed. 

With so much disruption to the working world, including technological advances, economic uncertainty, and cultural and political shifts, both organisations and employees are feeling the effects of this period of extreme change. 

What’s more, studies now show that employees are growing more resistant to change. A Gartner survey from 2016 showed 74% of employees were willing to change work behaviours to support organisational changes. That number dropped to just 38% in 2022, with 45% of employees now saying that they are fatigued from all the change. HR teams need to keep this change fatigue in mind when assessing their approach to employee engagement; the more change to management systems and operations, the less employees may be willing to embrace.

It may not come as a surprise to learn that employees worldwide are continuing to embrace hybrid and remote work, and are uninterested in employers that refuse to offer this option. McKinsey predicts that nine out of ten organisations will be combining remote and on-site work in the coming years.

The consequences of not embracing flexible work can be steep for employers. A survey by ZipRecruiter found that job seekers would take as much as a 14% pay cut if it meant they had the option to work remotely. 

Fostering an inclusive work environment is not only a moral and ethical priority for employers, it’s a business priority too. 

A recent study found that organisations that foster Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) principles are 81% more likely to have higher customer satisfaction. When diverse workers feel safe, celebrated, and heard by their employers, it shines through in the quality of their work. 

The metaverse may still feel like a futuristic fantasy to many, but those that embrace it will be ahead of the curve in 2023. Gartner predicts that by 2026, 25% of people will spend at least an hour a day in the metaverse, making this one of the most interesting HR technology trends going forward. 

Leading organisations can use this shift to transform how they manage both new and existing employees through HR tech. Virtual onboarding, workplace learning and training, and meetings in the metaverse are all ways to utilise this exciting new platform. 

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, and widespread layoffs in many industries worldwide, recent research suggests that almost all employers expect their employees to experience financial difficulties in 2023. 

Data from shows that 80% of employees say that their pay is not keeping up with inflation, with nearly half (47%) of those surveyed saying that this pushed them to look for a higher-paying job. For HR teams that are already challenged by a changing job market, this may be a difficult landscape to navigate in 2023.