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Editor’s note: HR must embrace fortitude in 2023

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As we move into 2023 Becky Norman, Editor of HRZone, offers a glimpse at the most pressing challenges dominating HR’s agenda, outlining why fortitude will be the crucial ingredient to a fulfilling year.

9th Jan 2023
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Emerging from the festive season, I’m sure some of you will be feeling lethargic from all the feasting and socialising, others refreshed from a restful break and others somewhat sombre at the idea of another few months of winter.

Whatever your mentality following the festive experience, the outlook for people professionals in 2023 is clear. It’s going to be yet another year with an overwhelming number of obstacles for you to contend with.

With this firmly in mind, the HRZone team are poised to bring you progressive, timely, distinct guidance as you navigate through a year of both the expected and unexpected in HR. To set the tone as we embark on 2023, I wanted to share with you details of our overarching theme, which will weave itself into the content we’ll be offering up throughout the year, alongside some more specific areas of focus.

HRZone's overarching theme for 2023 – 'Fortitude' – is in recognition of the hard graft you will need to put in, once again.

HRZone’s 2023 theme: Fortitude

As the world crumbles around us, the people profession must navigate employees through relentless adversity. HR will be tasked with solving an overwhelming amount of seemingly unsolvable problems, compounded by political turmoil and an economy in crisis.

  • A new, post-Covid work era
  • Strikes
  • Financial strain
  • Unabating burnout
  • Stagnating cultures
  • Bad leadership
  • Business restructuring
  • Ever-changing employee expectations 

Working against the odds and tackling these wicked problems will require courage, perseverance, unity, creativity and integrity. HRZone's overarching theme for 2023 – 'Fortitude' – is in recognition of the hard graft you will need to put in, once again, to support your people and protect your organisations. 

Throughout the year, we will provide tangible advice and thought-provoking opinion on the most troublesome issues falling into the laps of HR. Alongside this, we will publish guidance to support you on a more human level. To help protect your own wellbeing, remove barriers halting personal growth and fulfil ambitions. 

Businesses cannot afford to make poor moves and lose good people during an economic downturn.

Setting your stall for 2023

HR has many pressing challenges to address in 2023 – and, of course, you will have your own priorities unique to the organisation you work for. The following list contains just some of the pertinent issues we at HRZone will be offering expert guidance on throughout the year.

Protecting budgets

Perhaps most importantly, people professionals need to protect their 2023 budgets to support people through persisting tough times. Many organisations will be looking to make efficiencies and you will need to build a compelling case for avoiding HR cutbacks. Highlighting the impact on productivity and engagement will be key to this.

Recession-proof employee lifecycles

Businesses cannot afford to make poor moves and lose good people during an economic downturn. Recruitment, retention and offboarding approaches will need adapting to mitigate this risk.

Putting financial wellbeing front and centre

Financial wellbeing also needs pride of place in an organisation’s overarching wellbeing strategy. As award-winning psychologist Gethin Nadin argues in his latest article for HRZone, if you don’t support financial wellbeing in 2023, you’re not supporting employee wellbeing at all.

Addressing pay equity

A healthy salary is of rising importance in the economic downturn, with less than one-third of employees believing they are paid fairly, according to a 2022 Gartner survey. To improve these salary perceptions in 2023, HR will not only need to focus on achieving pay equity, but on building a culture of trust through more transparent and frequent salary communications.

Leaning into agile and progressive L&D

It’s not just better pay that employees want. Workers are seeking out enticing learning opportunities that equip them to grow in their careers – be that internally or externally. If employees feel left to stagnate they will either leave or stay but be disengaged and unproductive. HR and L&D must therefore work in close partnership to create a more progressive L&D offering in 2023.

Reigniting efforts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

The cost-of-living crisis will likely have deviated business leaders’ attention away from diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) issues. This will leave it up to you to build that case for getting DEIB back on the boardroom agenda. Indeed, 2022 CIPD research suggests that 47% of organisations don’t have a DEIB strategy or action plan in place at all. 

Being conscious with workplace culture-shaping activities

The past few years have explicitly shown us the value of a thriving culture. But the ‘how’ of building a people-centred and flourishing culture when there are resource and financial constraints remains in the shadows.

How does an HR professional go about improving the treatment and engagement of an organisation’s people? How do other factors such as ethics, environmental impact, political changes and social values shape workplace culture? These are questions to ask yourself to help nurture a more conscious culture.

You will only be helpful to your organisation’s employees if you, yourself, feel energised, healthy and empowered.

Building better leaders

To navigate teams and organisations through chaotic times, leaders must be equipped to make tough decisions, inspire and energise others, uphold integrity and show compassion. 

Linkedin Learning research shows the people profession is aware of this, with half of survey respondents stating leadership and management training is their primary focus. But the challenge lies in building leaders with the right blend of business skills and human skills.

Protecting HR’s wellbeing along the way…

The pace may feel relentless, as you seek to meet the myriad needs of employees. This puts you at risk of worrying levels of self-sacrifice that are unsustainable and harmful to personal health. It will be your responsibility alone to adequately care for yourself and push back or stop if things get too overwhelming. You will only be helpful to your organisation’s employees if you, yourself, feel energised, healthy and empowered.

Reflect first

As you gear up for a new year of work, it is easy to fall into ‘full speed ahead’ mode. Before getting stuck into that hefty HR to-do list, we’d recommend blocking out a few hours in your calendar to pause and reflect on how last year went for you in your HR role. Why not try these five reflective questions from L&D expert Jackie Clifford to set yourself up for a new year?

It can be an enlightening process that offers clarity on the successes you overlooked and the failures you brushed under the carpet. It can also help you build fortitude – that much-needed mental ingredient we’ll be examing more closely in 2023.

We at HRZone wish you a year of good health, clear direction and unified action – and no additional crises to add to the list! Watch this space for guidance on all the above or, better yet, sign up to our newsletter to get insights sent you to directly.

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