CHRO Community Conversation: 2023-2024 trends shaping the way of work


There’s an unprecedented shift in employee expectations, and HR will have to keep up.

The very first CHRO South Africa Community Conversation for 2023 gave HR leaders a lot of food for thought, as Dr Dieter Veldsman, HR and OD thought leader at the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) outlined the trends that will shape the world of work this year and into the future.

It’s no surprise that employers are facing an unprecedented shift in employee expectations. In fact, from managing the looming burnout crisis to adopting future-proof remote work policies, HR teams have quite a lot on their plate if they are to remain agile in the fast-evolving landscape.

Organisations must therefore evolve employee value propositions throughout the employee life cycle.

Dieter kicked off the peer session by looking at the trifecta impacting expectations of HR:

  • Mega trends influencing our world: The world is becoming hotter; there are global shifts in economic power; retail is becoming personal; technology is becoming human; there are more people and the world’s population is older; people are more connected than ever; and people can work and live anywhere.
  • Impact on work, people, and HR: The psychological contract is changing and how, where and when we work is becoming more complex.
  • There are changing requirements for leaders and HR leaders.

Dieter explained, “The definition of what work is and will become is now significantly different. Work has never been as fluid as it is now. The key thing for 2023 is how to foster a relationship of trust, as in 2022 trust between employees and employers took a major knock.”

He added, “Stability, security and sustainable employment are becoming more important for people. In addition, holistic wellbeing will remain central to HR strategies in 2023 and into 2024. This extends to financial and spiritual wellbeing.”

In terms of spiritual wellbeing, Dieter pointed out that this was around the concept of an individual’s values and morals aligning with the organisation rather than a religious connotation.

“Employees are questioning whether they are able to live out who they are in an authentic way within organisations. A lot of companies in 2023/24 are going to be asked to take a stance on what is happening in the external domain, even politically,” he said.

Mpho Motshegoa, Talent and Culture head at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, said, "EVPs are shifting and no longer transactional. Employees are also looking at shared purpose and connectedness. It's a shift from employee experience to employee life experience in terms of EVP."

Degrees of membership
Dieter added that the world of work is becoming more complex and talent strategies have to take this into account.

“We need to start thinking of people in terms of the degrees of membership to the organisation. The new ways of work go far beyond remote work. We see emerging work models based on concepts like triple peak days, top sharing and assignment work,” he noted.

Vinolia Singh, chief people officer at Adcorp, resonated with this concept.

“Flexible working arrangements have already moved beyond where you work from. We now have the ‘fractional worker’, someone who chooses to work for multiple employers concurrently. This can play out in favour of employers as these are specialists. Often business cannot afford these specialists full time but need their input so fractional work will satisfy the needs of both parties,” she said.

Vinolia added, “We are just scratching the surface of flexibility in work environments and we have to consider how to put in measures to retain a flexible workforce. The way companies contract with their flexible workforce will dictate how the relationship will play out.”

Interestingly, HR leaders are also being called upon to review the requirements of their roles.

“Organisations are being called on to have a stance on what’s happening in the world and leaders are being held accountable for what they say and how they say it. This means that leadership development remains a key priority,” Dieter said.

He added, “We are dealing with the prematurely promoted, as during Covid people were promoted because there was no one else available. So, these individuals need to develop emotional maturity.”

Dieter’s presentation wrapped up with a call to action for HR, being:

  • Fix our broken reputation: HR has a PR problem and that needs to be addressed;
  • Reskill, upskill and cross skill; and
  • Be courageous enough to try new models.

Besa Mathuri, acting GE: HR & Legal Services at ARC, summed up the value of the CHRO Community Conversation when she said, "The trends are affirmations of the shift we are currently experiencing and need to plan and strategise for."

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