2023's Biggest Workforce Trends—What to Know This Year

AJ Beltis
January 3, 2023
workforce trends, workplace trends, HR trends, HR software, People Operations software

2022 introduced terms like quiet quitting, ushered in new laws around pay transparency, and saw many employees successfully earning higher wages, making the year one of the most fluid periods in recent history for employees and employers.  

And, that’s not about to stop in 2023. 

Between ongoing debates over work location preferences and a shaky economy, the nation’s workforce is in constant motion as 2023 looks to be another year of discovery and transition. 

Here are some of the key trends that we will see affect businesses and their workers in 2023, plus what you can do to stay ahead of the curve to keep employees satisfied, engaged, and productive, and help safeguard against losing valuable members of your team.  

1. Workplace flexibility will remain a requirement

Given the amount of options workers have for companies offering flexibility in working hours and locations, a rigid approach to where and when employees can work is increasingly becoming a dealbreaker for current and prospective workers. 

More than half of companies allow remote work in some capacity, while 80% of companies allow for flexible working arrangements. So, if you’re not extending your employees some flexibility here, you’re officially in the minority. 

On the employee side, 52% of employees say flexible work policies will affect their decision to stay at their organizations, according to Gartner’s Top HR Trends and Priorities For 2023 Report. In other words, more than half of your employees may consider other employers should their flexibility needs not be met. 

Takeaways for companies:

  • Respect your employees’ time: More than ever, employees care about their hobbies, spending time with their families, and feeling valued. Extending flexibility to employees—so long as their work is complete—is a sign of appreciation and trust. 
  • Consider a hybrid/flex working model: While hybrid or remote is not an option for every role, employees must at least consider it in 2023 if they haven’t already. 
Related resources: Is There an Ideal Hybrid Work Schedule?

2. Salaries will become more transparent

An oft-taboo subject will continue to be destigmatized in 2023 as salary transparency laws become more common. New York City and Colorado already had laws in place by the end of 2022, with California and Washington joining them in 2023. Companies not headquartered in these areas may also need to list salary ranges if they’re accepting applicants from a city or state with this law.

It’s believed that these laws will continue to become commonplace in 2023 and beyond, breaking down a barrier between employers and not only their prospective candidates, but also their current employees as well. 

While it might seem jarring to pull back the curtain here, providing salary ranges up-front can expedite the hiring and recruiting process by solely bringing in candidates who are comfortable accepting compensation at the listed range. 

Takeaways for companies:

  • Stay ahead of the curve: This trend is moving clearly in one direction, and salary transparency is required to consider candidates in specific areas of the country. To cast as wide a net as possible for candidates, consider embracing salary transparency instead of running from it. 
  • Provide accurate ranges: Putting a salary range in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars could raise red flags to candidates. Remember to be authentic with salary ranges so as to set the right expectations. 

3. Employees want job security

Anyone with a LinkedIn account was no stranger to the string of heartbreaking posts from connections who had been laid off in 2022. A seemingly endless number of companies announced that they were reducing headcount as the year went on, leaving thousands out of a job and countless more concerned about their own job safety. 

Employees do their best work when they feel comfortable in their workplace, but according to Gartner, 45% of HR leaders say their employees are suffering from “change fatigue” in their organizations. 

This leaves organizations in a tough spot: They need to make employees feel valued and comfortable, but can’t ignore the impact of the current economy. 

Takeaway for companies:

  • Reconsider potential hires: While some notable companies underwent rapid growth from 2020-2021, 2022 was a slowdown year that’s set to continue into 2023. Companies like Amazon Web Services and Disney, for example, are in a hiring freeze. While not ideal, this option can help avoid layoffs and minimize rapid change internally.

4. Workers will thrive on engagement and respect 

“Quiet quitting” is the alliteration that no manager wants to hear. 

The concept made the rounds online in the second half of 2022, serving as a call to employers: don’t let employees feel unappreciated, underutilized, or taken advantage of.

Quiet quitting refers to employees doing the bare essentials they’re required to for their role, rather than making the effort to exceed expectations. And while there are conflicting sentiments over how prevalent the trend really is, this doesn’t lessen the need to keep employees engaged and on a path for growth in the new year. 

Countering the trend of quiet quitting simply means fostering a culture where employees don't feel taken advantage of, and instead feel valued, engaged, and encouraged to do their best work.

Takeaways for companies:

  • Respect (non)working hours: Remember to respect employees’ working hours. It’s fine to send messages after work, especially as flexible workplaces often see employees working asynchronously, so long that it’s made clear that a response is not needed until after the next day starts. 
  • Set clear advancement guidelines: Employees want to work toward the next step in their career and their paycheck, with 94% of workers admitting they would stay longer at a company that helps them learn and grow. Give employees the skills and agenda they need to grow, and they’ll reward you with more loyalty. 
  • Be open about role requirements: A big part of quiet quitting involves employees simply doing the work that is expected of them based on their job description—and avoiding taking on work outside of the scope of their role. So, remember to be clear in review periods (as well as in the initial hiring phase) as to what is required to satisfactorily do a job, including soft skills and growth timelines. And, make sure that managers and senior leaders are keeping role descriptions in mind and aren't asking their direct reports to complete projects that are out of the scope of their roles.
Related resources: Why Re-Engaging Your Workforce May Be the Best Cure for Quiet Quitting

5. Gen Z workers will continue to enter the workforce

As more members of Gen Z graduate college each year, they’re on their way to be nearly one-third of the workforce by 2030—and by that point many will have worked their way into senior IC or even people management roles. 

As more Gen Zers enter the workforce, it’s important to know what to expect from them as employees and—more importantly—what they expect from employers.

Some important facts to know about this generation’s working preferences include the following: 

  • They thrive on technology: Many don’t know a world without an abundance of it, and that needs to extend into the workplace. 
  • They want ownership of their time: 76% say they feel responsible for driving their own career. 
  • They crave connection: Two-fifths of them want daily interactions with their boss.
Related resources: How to Use Tech to Foster Friendships in Flexible Workplaces

Additionally, Gen Z is more socially conscious than previous generations, with 83% of them stating a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion plays an important role when evaluating potential employers, according to Monster.  

Gen Z requires convenience, but also genuine connection. Here are some tips to make your workplace more friendly to these newer entrants into the workforce. 

Takeaways for companies:

  • Preserve your culture: On remote and hybrid teams, fostering a strong culture takes more work, but will pay off with higher retention and satisfaction for Gen Z. 
  • Preach and practice: Gen Z cares about social issues, as well as seeing companies follow through on their promises about them. This generation is smart and will know when a company is committing to something versus simply saying it for brownie points. 
  • Use the right tools: Make sure your company has easy-to-access communication channels, workplace software, and HR tools. Gen Z will rely heavily on them to do their jobs. 

Strengthening your workplace in 2023

A new year always brings new trends. 

For employers, 2023 means upping engagement, practicing transparency, promoting work-life balance, and providing both growth and stability to workers through any economic downturns. 

As you navigate the waters of 2023, keep the ever-fluid nature of the workforce in mind and expect change—but know that by building a people-centric workplace that treats employees fairly and with respect, you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve.

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