Welcome to another year on Planet Earth!
Now that we’re faced with a fresh 12 months ahead of us, we’ve been asking ourselves - what does 2023 look like for the world of work? Will we still be feeling the impact of the pandemic and Brexit and economic ups-and-downs? (Spoiler: yes!) How many more workplaces will shift to hybrid models? How competitive will the job market be? And what does all that mean for leadership skills?
So grab a coffee, sit back, and let us share our ponderings with you.
Much like 2022, 2023 probably won’t be entirely smooth sailing. Since 2020 and the onset of the pandemic, the world has been hugely unpredictable - culturally, economically and politically - and that’s not likely to change any time soon!
Economic experts are warning of further instability in 2023, with interest rates rising, cost of living sky-rocketing and trade disputes continuing. We’re in for a bumpy ride…
But outside of that, we’re likely to see three trends in 2023 that will have a big impact on the world of work.
First, remote and hybrid working is here to stay. The pandemic triggered the need for remote working, but now that restrictions are gone and the world is (sort of) returning to normal, one thing that’s sticking around is remote working. In 2023, just as we’ve seen in the latter part of 2022, we’ll be seeing many businesses continue to encourage remote working - probably in a hybrid model, where employees work from the office part of the time and from home the rest of the time. Hybrid working is cost-effective for businesses (particularly small bootstrapped startups) and there’s a mounting pile of evidence showing that remote working doesn’t have the negative impact on productivity and efficiency that we may have initially thought - so there’s no reason why hybrid and remote working would take a backseat in 2023.
Second, technology is going to improve. This is a given; technology improves every day, but over the course of 2023 we’re expecting to see big advancements in AI (artificial intelligence) that’ll have an impact not only on the type of work humans will continue to do, but also on the way that we work too. AI will have an impact on project management, client management, communication (internal and external), training and decision-making (through data analytics) - all of which will change the way we work with team members and the day-to-day running of businesses of all shapes and sizes.
And finally, we’re expecting to see a continued emphasis on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Particularly in times of economic strife, it’s increasingly important that businesses support their local communities through CSR and continue making progress towards increase sustainability too. When times are tough, customers and clients want to see that businesses are still doing their part for the community - as well as promoting inclusivity, diversity and tolerance internally too.
With those three trends in mind, let’s have a look at the four leadership qualities we think are going to be super important in 2023!
We’ve seen already that things aren’t likely to be stable in 2023. With economic ups-and-downs, political disagreements left, right and centre, and cultural shifts happening in the background, the world of work won’t be able to escape the changes the world is facing.
In the face of change, it’s the responsibility of leaders to be flexible and responsive to those changes, whilst also maintaining as much stability and confidence internally as possible.
That means that soft skills like adaptability, responsiveness and resilience are likely to be core leadership traits for 2023. Leaders need to be able to assess situations quickly, come up with solutions to problems quickly, and be able to communicate those solutions to team members confidently and clearly.
Leaders who aren’t comfortable with change or who struggle to make decisions without analysing every possible piece of data are likely to find themselves leading teams who aren’t fully confident in their abilities.
Communication is always an important part of leadership. But with continued emphasis on hybrid and remote working, communication is going to be even more important in 2023.
The novelty of remote working has well and truly worn off by now, and while it may have been okay to muddle through this new model of working back in 2020 when we had no choice, now that it’s a permanent fixture in the world of work it’s important that leaders start putting processes in place to facilitate effective communication when workers are spread across home and office environments.
Part of that means embracing new technologies (spoiler alert - that’s skill #4!) but it also means working on personal communication skills to ensure messages aren’t misconstrued and any changes to strategies or plans (skill #1!) are clearly conveyed to team members, regardless of where they’re based.
Employee engagement matters just as much in a hybrid environment as it does in a workplace environment, and one of the biggest factors in keeping team members engaged is the leader’s ability to communicate effectively. Basically, communication matters!
Not only is it legally, morally and culturally expected that workplaces demonstrate inclusivity and equality, but it also plays a huge role in keeping employees engaged and reducing staff turnover - and with an uncertain economy and an increasingly competitive job market, keeping hold of good talent is a key concern for businesses in 2023.
Leaders must have the ability to foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture, where every team member feels a sense of belonging and is valued by those around them. Leaders need to practice active listening to be open to diverse perspectives and new ideas as well as having the ability to pick up on the emotional needs of team members too.
Listening to team members and involving every person wherever possible will foster a better team environment, which will lead to increased productivity and increased employee engagement. Particularly in hybrid teams, inclusivity helps to eliminate any feelings of being left out that may arise in remote workers.
One of the most important hard skills for leaders in 2023 will be the ability to utilise technology in the workplace. As we’ve already seen, the use of AI and other emerging technologies is likely to present ample opportunities for businesses to take advantage of machine learning for day-to-day tasks.
Leaders who are able to pick up new technologies easily and strategise their involvement in their team’s functions will be able to keep their business ahead of the pack - while leaders who struggle with technologies and are resistant to change will be left behind.
The important thing to bear in mind when implementing new technologies in the workplace is that technology should be viewed as a support for team members, not something that makes humans redundant. Leaders who can communicate this effectively to their teams will be able to increase productivity and output while keeping employee engagement high and mitigating any negative feelings towards technology.
And there we have it: our predictions for what will really matter for leaders as we enter 2023!
As always, we’re excited to see what the next 12 months will bring and are ready and raring to go with supporting businesses, big and small, with their people needs. If you have any thoughts about 2023 and what it means for business psychology, HR and leadership, join the conversation over on LinkedIn!