What are the global workplace trends in 2023?

Employees will continue to expect flexible, hybrid and remote working this year, experts say
Canary Wharf in east London. Globally, employees are demanding flexibility for a better work-life balance. PA
Canary Wharf in east London. Globally, employees are demanding flexibility for a better work-life balance. PA
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Felicity Glover
Mar 16, 2023

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Quiet quitting. The Great Resignation. Lying flat. Career cushioning. Quiet hiring. And the latest? Bare minimum Mondays, in which employees choose to start the working week by doing as little as possible to reduce their stress levels.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic three years ago, there’s been a plethora of buzzwords created to reflect global workplace trends and employees’ health and well-being as they search for the perfect work-life balance in a world of remote, full-time office and hybrid working.

Driven by Generation Z and millennials, it’s no surprise that TikTok has a dedicated space under the hashtag QuitTok, where you’ll find the latest employee “solutions” to the workplace problems they face.

But what are employers doing about it? Are they listening and will we see a change in the way workplaces around the world operate in 2023?

The good news is that many companies plan to introduce an “unprecedented” level of personalisation in the everyday employee experience, according to the Top Employers Institute’s World of Work Trends Report 2023.

This rise of individual employee needs will have much further to run this year and what has been “people-centric” will become “person-centric”, it adds.

“The personalisation of consumer needs has been a challenge for organisations and now employees expect to be treated as ‘internal’ customers,” the TEI says in the report, which surveyed more than 2,000 companies globally.

“Only those businesses that can go the extra mile in providing a genuine and heartfelt commitment to their people in this way will generate the emotional reaction necessary to enable a high-performance culture.”

Over the past few years, organisations worldwide have been focusing on employee well-being, work-life balance and learning opportunities in the post-coronavirus era.

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A survey conducted by global consultancy PwC in 2022 found that professionals in the Middle East are prioritising job opportunities that offer transparency, flexibility and well-being in the workplace.

“With 30 per cent of respondents in the Middle East very likely to look for a new job within the next year, versus 19 per cent globally, factors such as flexible working, trust and transparency, well-being and promoting a culture of openness are increasingly integral to the war for talent,” PwC said.

In the US, employee engagement fell for the first time in 10 years to 34 per cent in 2021, according to a survey conducted in January by US analytics consultancy Gallup.

This pattern continued in 2022, with 32 per cent of full and part-time employees saying they were engaged, while 18 per cent are actively engaged, the survey found.

Active disengagement increased by two percentage points from 2021 and four points from 2020, Gallup says.

“The largest decline in employee engagement was among those in remote-ready jobs who are currently working fully on-site — this group saw a decline of five points in engagement and an increase of seven points in active disengagement,” it adds.

“It’s worth noting that exclusively remote employees saw an increase of four points in ‘quiet quitting’ (aka not engaged in their work and workplace).”

Meanwhile, organisations predicting high growth, or those with a thriving workforce and innovation cultures, all share one agenda: a focus on becoming more human and relatable, consultancy Mercer says in its Global Talent Trends 2022-2023 report.

Remote working – in pictures
an working from home with laptop during quarantine. Home office and parenthood at same time. Exhausted parent with hyperactive child.

Working from home comes with challenges for people struggling to balance work and home life. Getty Images

These “relatable” organisations are challenging legacy notions of value creation and redefining how they contribute to society after the Great Resignation trend swept the world, according to Mercer.

“Whether we call it the Great Resignation or the Great Reassessment, a fundamental change in people’s values is underpinning a structural shift in the labour market,” it says.

“Workers feel empowered to take action: witness the quiet quitting phenomenon and voluntary resignations in the US exceeding their pre-pandemic high for 21 consecutive months.”

The Great Resignation was coined in 2021 by Anthony Klotz, a psychologist and professor of business administration at Texas A&M University.

This phrase refers to the millions of workers in advanced economies who are resigning from their jobs to seek a more flexible work-life balance, after working remotely during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last November, about 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs for better working conditions and wages, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics.

This year, about 61 per cent of US employees say they are considering handing in their notice, according to a survey by professional networking platform LinkedIn.

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It is a similar scenario in the UK, where employers are struggling to fill vacancies after a wave of early retirements during the pandemic, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said in its quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey in February.

“Skills and labour remain scarce in the face of a labour market which continues to be surprisingly buoyant, given the economic backdrop of rising inflation and the associated cost-of-living crisis,” Jon Boys, senior labour market economist for the CIPD, said at the time.

“Many employers are recognising the potential to attract certain groups to fill vacancies — particularly older workers, carers and those with health conditions — but this also requires a focus on improving job quality, particularly flexibility.”

In December, the UK government announced new legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment to have a greater say over how they work.

Under previous legislation, workers had to wait 26 weeks before requesting flexible arrangements.

Companies are now rethinking processes, ways of working and digital investments that deliver on a new vision for work, working and the workplace through values, partnership, wellness, agility and energy, according to Mercer’s report.

Flexible working remains a top priority for employees globally in 2023, Mercer says.

However, it isn’t just knowledge workers who are demanding flexible options to fit around their life, but all workers — from retail staff to lorry drivers, the consultancy adds.

“These expectations are welcoming the next leap in the employee value proposition, moving from the ‘thrive’ contract to the ‘lifestyle’ contract,” the consultancy adds.

“Leaders are grappling with issues of fairness: with what is offered to frontline workers versus managers, with pay for people doing the same job from different locations, and with career and health parity for new hires versus current employees.”

By the end of 2023, 48 per cent of knowledge workers globally will be working either hybrid and fully remote — up from 27 per cent in 2019, according to a January survey by management consultancy Gartner.

However, by the end of 2026, democratisation of technology, digitisation and automation of work will increase the total available market of fully remote and hybrid workers to 64 per cent of all employees, up from 52 per cent in 2021, the Gartner survey found.

“Hybrid is no longer just an employee perk but an employee expectation, challenging employers to create a human-centric approach to hybrid,” it says.

“A hybrid workplace is now a strategic workforce policy, with significant impacts on countries’ social, cultural and IT infrastructures. Organisations will need to focus on three dimensions of human-centric work to drive outcomes [in 2023]: flexible experiences, intentional collaboration and empathy-based management.”

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