Four megatrends impacting HR


From climate change to burnout to managing contingent workforces, here are the megatrends affecting the world of work.

By Kgaogelo Letsebe

Managing a looming burnout crisis, climate change, upskilling leaders and managers, as well as redefining remote and hybrid work strategies are some of the megatrends that will dominate the ways of working for HR professionals in 2023.

This is according to Dr Dieter Veldsman, thought leader at the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR).

In an exclusive CHRO South Africa podcast, Dieter gives more insight into top trends from a recently released AIHR 11 HR Trends for 2023 report that will not only shape the world of work this year but also steer HR professionals to make more impactful decisions.

“We [AIHR] do a lot of research about what are some of the HR trends on the horizon that we believe as a community we should pay attention to and what the implication is going to be for how we guide and we navigate the turbulent world of work in our organisations.”

1. Adapting to a changing world

Climate change, believe it or not, is one of the top trends that will impact the HR agenda, says Dieter. “The average Earth’s temperature has been rising year by year and as such this will have a big implication for HR with green movements becoming essential. So there will be a lot of talk about our role in sustainability. What stance are we taking as an organisation and as a fraternity concerning our contribution towards bigger problems that stretches beyond the boundaries only of our organisation, and what that’s going to look like?"

These questions, says Veldsman, will need more than just greenwashing and will need organisations to be held accountable in this space. " It's great that you talk the talk, but are you actually walking the walk?"

2. A silent crisis

According to Dieter, there is a looming burnout crisis in organisations as a result of the recent pandemic, work-related stress, financial anxiety and such. That given, he says, organisations will have to take more responsibility for the overall wellbeing of their employees as it might pose a threat to the continuity of the organisation. “Wellbeing and holistic wellbeing will remain central to our strategies for 2023/2024. Here I am not just talking about having a wellbeing programme and structure in place. But infusing wellbeing in the ways and culture that we do things and practise HR within organisations.”

3. Redefining work strategies

We believe that 2023 is the year where HR will begin to manage the complex workforce ecosystem beyond permanent employees, notes Dieter. This will entail HR becoming more actively involved in managing its contingent workforce, contributing to creating a more blended workforce ecosystem, and sharing best practices with supply chain partners, vendors, and service providers.

“Employees want clear communication and modernised policies. HR will need to be clear about what it can offer and what it cannot offer. This might have a detrimental impact on the talent market, but it is better than creating an expectation that you will have to manage later.”

4. Upskilling leaders and managers

The importance of leadership development within organisations has also risen in the trends ranks for 2023. “In a world that is becoming more complex, we need a more conservative, considerate and stable leadership that will steer us into the future,” Dieter says.

He adds that HR will play a vital role in establishing this as it will be up to the practitioners to identify and communicate leadership expectations, and acknowledge what the organisation expects from leaders and how this will translate into practical behaviours. “We need to think about how we help leaders become self-aware of the impact that their behaviours have on those around them.”

Other trends that Dieter touched on included increased investments in deskless workers, putting more focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, creating purpose-driven organisations, occupying space in the metaverse as well as reinventing employee development strategies and bringing learning into day-to-day work.

“We cannot ignore what is happening in the broader world around us and how that is setting the tone for what 2023 is going to pan out for us in HR. It is time for HR to step up to the plate, capture the opportunities that 2023 brings, and reposition the function’s value proposition as a leader of the business and a builder of competitive people capabilities.”

Related articles

The rise of the greats sparks transformation in the workplace

The post-Covid landscape has changed the world of work significantly, as companies adapt to the Great Resignation, Great Reawakening, Great Reshuffle and Great Unretirement. It’s all the more prudent for HR strategies to evolve and adjust to The Greats.