Karen Roelandts

Source: "Starting Fresh with Employees in 2023 – What You Need to Know"
Food Industry Executive, March 9, 2023

This article, written by Elior North America Executive Vice President of Human Resources Karen Roelandts, was originally featured on Food Industry Executive

This year will see the culmination of the many changes the pandemic brought to our work environment, and HR professionals have been at the very forefront of this evolution. As a contract foodservice provider, our organization has played an important role in helping our clients navigate through the pandemic, inflation, The Great Resignation, “quiet quitting,” and ongoing state and national workplace legislative changes, just to name a few. This year, we foresee a continued focus on creating new opportunities to enhance the employee-employer relationship in an effort to increase retention and keep employees engaged and thriving. 

Below are four key HR trends that will be framing the 2023 workplace. These trends are the result of economic and cultural shifts and changes that organizations have had to make and, in some cases, are still facing.

Talent attraction and retention

With the lowest United States unemployment rate in decades, many expect the war for talent to continue through 2023. Attracting the right talent – then retaining that talent – is still the biggest challenge facing companies.

Attracting the right talent starts with transparency. Candidates must have a clear understanding of the role they are pursuing, and more importantly, they need to understand how those duties align with the values and goals of the company. This all boils down to ensuring that candidates have the best experience possible throughout the recruitment cycle. Ultimately, an organization’s responsibility should be to find the right people who support the goals and objectives of the business, while finding a career that meets their long-term plans. Starting with that common ground builds the foundation for healthy relationships between employers and employees.

In our current labor market, it’s also advantageous to look for talent beyond the conventional talent pool – consider recruiting retirees or individuals without a college degree for roles that traditionally required one. According to research, SHRM found that while there is a willingness to hire people with criminal records, only 3% of HR professionals said their company actively hires people with criminal records. This practice opens possibilities for the workforce and introduces great candidates to available positions for which they historically would not have been considered. 

People want to work somewhere they feel connected to others, are getting paid fairly for what they do, and find meaning in their role. If employees can’t find all these qualities inside their current organization, they’ll continue to look elsewhere. That’s why it behooves employers to look after each employee as a whole person, rather than just a worker. Organizations as a whole, and specifically HR departments, have the opportunity to build programs and processes to help their organizations retain a workforce that feels fulfilled and challenged, and that drives the organization to succeed. There’s also a correlation between inflation and retention — people want to be part of an organization where they feel secure and are confident they’ll be supported during economic hardships.

Employee well-being

As a result of office shutdowns across the country, many employees were given the opportunity to work remotely during the pandemic, giving them a feel for what it was like working from home. Then, as the labor market tightened and competition for talent increased, employees and job candidates alike used their newfound leverage to make bigger demands for their compensation, benefits, and a working environment that aligned with their needs and wants. Part of evolving with the current labor and economic environment is modifying employee offerings to meet their personal needs and goals. HR representatives should consider offering benefits that are more holistic and benefit the entire family, such as workplace flexibility, healthcare, and wellness incentives, among others.

Career pathing

People are looking for opportunities that offer personal and professional growth. Business leaders should keep an open conversation with their employees about the career paths available and the ways to get there. Again, if employees can’t see a pathway for advancement within their current company, they’ll look for employment elsewhere.

To support employees in fulfilling their career growth goals, ensure internal visibility of open roles so that current employees have the opportunity to be considered as priority candidates. Encourage inter-company collaboration on cross-functional projects so employees get exposure to professionals and roles outside their day-to-day experience. Additionally, HR professionals can add value by coaching company leaders to identify ways their current talent pool could address the evolving needs of their organization by taking on new roles.

Growing skill sets

It’s vital to build a culture where individuals can grow and succeed based on their merits, including collaborative achievement, work ethic, and problem-solving skills, rather than simply their credentials and tenure. It benefits both employees and employers to make training accessible to professionals who want to grow in their careers. By building the skill sets of current members, employers will continue to keep quality employees, opening their opportunities for growth and their ability to contribute to the growth of the organization. When your talent grows professionally, so does the success of your organization.

Part of having a healthy, productive, and fulfilling work environment for all is having employees who feel inspired and driven to contribute their best at work. Hiring and training the right people of all skill levels and supporting them in their growth builds a culture of meritocracy that will allow employees to continuously develop in their roles, perform their jobs well and be proud of doing so. By you focusing on putting employee culture first, your work force will feel heard, valued, and empowered to use their skills and talents to drive your business forward.