Employee engagement will be a key priority for organizations in 2023, as the world shifts towards hybrid working models. In order to be successful in a hybrid work environment, leaders will need to adopt a human-centric approach to work design, including opportunities for collaboration, open communication, and empathy-based management. Additionally, offering flexibility to employees will be crucial in attracting and retaining talent, and employees will seek holistic experiences, including growth and development opportunities, in order to feel fulfilled in the workplace.
With around 20 years of experience in HR, Protima Achaya is a seasoned professional in talent acquisitions. As lead of the Talent Acquisition and People Operations functions for the APAC region in NetApp, she drives hiring strategy and also manages the Global Mobility and Alternative Workforce programs. In her current role, she manages teams from multiple locations India and APAC. She has previously led teams at Cisco and Sasken Communications Technologies playing crucial roles in staffing and other key project based hirings.

In a highly competitive industry, it is important for leaders to be able to win in the workplace, before winning in the marketplace. As we head into 2023, we look back and reflect on the last two years, which have laid the foundation for the future. The disruptions caused by the pandemic resulted in remote working becoming a norm, which has since transitioned to hybrid working. The future of work will be defined by hybrid operating models, and an organisation’s ability to engage with their talent.

A recent survey by Gartner, stated that employee engagement will be a priority for 47% of HR leaders in the new year. In a hybrid world, here is how employee experiences are going to drive the narrative for organisational policies:

Human-centric work design will define hybrid workplaces:

The success of a hybrid work model is rooted in a human-centric work design. This entails going beyond a mere flexible approach, to include opportunities for collaboration, open communication, and empathy-based management. In order to achieve this, organisational policies may be redesigned, and should take into consideration the changing dynamics in the workplace. Traditionally, leaders have based their management approach on visibility, and what they can physically see for themselves. In a redefined workplace, managers will adopt an empathetic stand, based on trust. Employees today feel a strong need for credence in the way they interact with peers. What can help is meticulously planning collaboration efforts through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous methods for the task at hand and the individuals carrying it out.

Offering flexibility will be crucial in attracting and retaining talent:

In a hybrid workplace, one of its defining factors is the flexibility that it offers, and can be linked with employee autonomy. Research by Gartner shows that the probability that employees will stick with the company, feel less fatigued, and perform well is 1.5–1.7 times higher, if they are offered flexibility. The data speaks for itself, and is a strong factor for organisations to keep in mind, when communicating their approach to building a future-proof workplace. At present, there is a certain perception, that employees in office enjoy greater visibility than those working remotely. At this juncture, visibility within the firm will be important. The goal must be to chalk out a plan for collaborative efforts that ensures every member of the team can make their voices heard.

Employees will seek holistic experiences: 

Employees seek purpose in everything that they do, including in the workplace. In 2023, employee policies will be framed with a human touch to ensure their financial, mental, and physical and emotional needs are met. As a part of delivering a holistic employee experience, it is important to factor in growth strategies to keep talent engaged and motivated. Employees should be provided with adequate avenues for development and growth. Whether it is through upskilling and reskilling initiatives, or soft skills training, these will go a long way in creating a strong employer brand image in the market. Investments in learning and development will be important in the years to come.

In a highly dynamic space of building a future-proof workforce, there are growing conversations around what can leaders do to create this. As our ideas of what constitutes work change, organisations will need to consciously modify the employee experience to make it more relevant for a digital workforce operating in hybrid settings. This will require a mindset change in the way we approach talent, and a human-centric approach in communicating with employees, which would result in them becoming brand ambassadors of the business.


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