“Leadership & mobilisation of skilled workforce will continue to take centre stage,” C Jayakumar

C Jayakumar, CHRO at L&T believes organisations will focus on stabilisation, with more focus on talent retention and workforce skilling in 2023 due to the volatile nature of the markets today.


2022 was a volatile year for HR & workforce

Over the past two to three years, organisations have experienced a lot of uncertainty, due to the pandemic, with organisations across industries finding it difficult to manage employee-driven costs and profit margins.

Accustomed to a certain work-life balance during the pandemic, employees began to appreciate the flexibility of working from anywhere, which allowed them to attend to personal needs while fulfilling work obligations. About 65 per cent of employees said that the pandemic “made them rethink the role of work in their lives,” and 56 per cent felt that it “made them want to contribute more to society”, as per a report by Gartner. Post pandemic, a few companies decided to bring employees back to office, resulting in a spree of resignations.

While the job market remains strong, the second half of the year has been markedly different. Inflation, geopolitical situations, Fed rate hikes and a volatile stock market are all pointing to a recession. Consumer demand and profits for online services increased because of the pandemic. Leaders were told to expand the business at all costs. Funding for startups declined, resulting in mass layoffs, but this remains an exception rather than the norm.

As talks of a recession loom, employees who job-hopped during the pandemic are now questioning whether they made the right moves, leading to ‘The Great Regret’. Those who sought higher pay and more flexible working conditions are now concerned that they could be fired. As a result, the job market is now oscillating between the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ‘Great Regret’.

While the current market scenario remains volatile, the coming year will be a year of stabilisation, which will see more focus on talent retention and skilling of the workforce. Considering the multi-generational workforce, purpose and flexibility at work will be the differentiating factors for attracting talent.

2023: Will it be a turmoil again or peace?

While 2022 was a defining year for many organisations, 2023 will see the job market changing in many ways. From hybrid work modes to the Metaverse, 2023 will see new HR trends adding value to the transformation that the HR industry has seen. The following are the key HR focus areas that will influence the workplace in 2023:

• Effective leadership – Agility and adaptability are going to be key competencies for leaders across industries. Effective ‘human leaders’ must be committed, courageous, and confident to overcome obstacles and manage the future of work.

Hybrid work model – The ‘future of work’ is hybrid, and it will be one of the emerging trends in the coming year.

• Hiring & skilling – With the dynamic global scenario, leadership talent and mobilisation of a skilled workforce will continue to take centre stage for many organisations.

• Employee well-being – Organisations must focus on the holistic well-being of employees by creating a culture of acceptance and inclusivity at the workplace, and providing employee support to address both physical and mental health.

• Digitalisation – Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other technologies will continue to disrupt, and thereby, play a vital role in transforming the workplace.

While the current market scenario remains volatile, the coming year will be a year of stabilisation, with more focus on talent retention and workforce skilling

Technology or new world of work reshaping people managers?

The role of the ‘people’s manager’ is evolving due to the changes in technology and the work environment over the last two years. The two most important competencies that a people manager must have in 2023 are a digital mindset and learning agility.

As fewer employees work in the same location, companies’ use of virtual and augmented reality is expected to grow dramatically. They will need to reskill employees to prepare them for new tasks and responsibilities that are more technologically integrated.

Post-pandemic, people managers need to focus on developing skills such as empathy and care to deal with changing business scenarios and stay connected with their teams. With respect to L&T, our learning and development programmes for people managers have quickly adapted to the changing needs and skills such as well-being, building resilience, and practising purposeful leadership.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, employees are taking their health and wellness very seriously, and want their employers to invest heavily in this area. Concerns go beyond the physical health of employees. The pandemic, the recession, and social unrest have all contributed to an increase in anxiety, depression and stress among the general public.

Growth-oriented skills

Organisations are focusing more on budgets, digital technologies and cost competitiveness. Skill development will be critical to strengthen the talent market. Skilling the workforce serves the objective of nurturing home-grown talent and retaining it, especially the young workforce seeking challenging opportunities at work.

Data visualisation and analytical skills are expanding and can complement human skills such as people management. Understanding and using data to communicate effectively is becoming a must-have skill as organisations seek to gain value from data-driven approaches.

More specialists or generalists

Companies hire specialists for entry-level jobs, and over time, career paths diverge into generalists based on the roles and paths that enthuse employees’ hearts and minds the most.

Some large organisations require generalists with broad experience because they benefit from their breadth, diverse experience, and interdisciplinary thinking while solving company problems. Others, on the other hand, believe in hyper-specialisation in one field.

Digital, being a specialised skill set will remain a key area for companies across industries. This is because the pandemic has reinforced the relevance of technology in many aspects of employee experience and engagement.

Another important investment that companies are likely to make is in grooming leaders. Here, a specialist with additional skills and competencies rises up the ladder quicker to assume leadership. Companies are hiring and reskilling more specialists based on their requirements.

The role of leaders also evolves as the business evolves with advanced technology. Leaders will focus more on employee well-being and the overall development of their team.

33 leaders predict the upcoming trends for 2023. To find out more click here.

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