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"It's funny how day by day nothing changes. But, when you look back, everything is different." - CS Lewis

As people passionate about creating a better world of work, we continue to foster innovation within our daily practices and keep an eye on the latest HR trends for inspiration.

But, let’s be honest, keeping up with our daily practices alone can be hard enough with little time to spare for wider trends shaping the industry.

So, to make it easy for you, these are emerging HR trends and predictions based on the latest news reports and research (some of it our own!).

1. Layoffs

It seems like not a week goes by without another company announcing significant layoffs.

Layoffs impact HR in multiple ways. Oftentimes HR professionals are the ones being laid off, especially recruiters and those in DEI roles, and, if this is you, we hope you’re doing OK.

Layoffs are also a challenge from a compliance and employee relations perspective. Those remaining are given the unenviable task of helping a mass of employees leave with as little pain as possible and we recommend working closely with your legal counsel throughout the process.

There’s also the tough task of keeping morale up amongst remaining employees who are upset by their colleagues leaving and concerned they could be next.

As an alternative to layoffs, tech company Zapier set up a secondment program that took advantage of transferable skills to move those that wanted to other parts of the business. 

On a more positive note, some companies will be able to take advantage of the market now being flooded with talent and will have to adapt their hiring process to deal with more applicants while still creating a great overall candidate experience.

2. Remote and hybrid working

Future projections indicate that 28% of American professionals will work fully remotely by 2028. It’s what workers want.

So, virtual working in some form is here to stay. We’re fans here at People Managing People, but admit it's not without its challenges.

Organizations are still figuring out which model is best for them, but we like Amazon CEO, Andy Jassy’s, take that “There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how every team works best.” 

As such, Amazon is allowing individual teams to decide how they work best. Some teams may even decide to work in the metaverse—workspaces built-in virtual reality.

Also, yes, we see the RTO news headlines, and how companies like Disney are ordering workers back to the office, but these are actually an exception.

A survey by The Conference Board found only ~3% of CEOs across the U.S. and Europe consider returning workers to the physical workplace as a priority in 2023, with the challenge being how to adapt to a hybrid model.

For help adapting to these new styles of working, check out our article How to Adapt to A Hybrid Model.

Stay up-to-date on all things HR & leadership.

3. Moving from jobs to skills

This is something our readers and community members talk about a lot.

Essentially it means companies looking beyond degrees and job titles and focusing more on the skills, experience, and personality traits that someone possesses.

In practice, this means removing degree requirements from job requirements and helping workers progress from lower to higher-wage jobs.

At Google, for example, a degree isn’t required for any role, and it’s the same at other large corporations such as Bank of America and General Motors.

This approach helps to attract a broader talent pool and better develop talent from within.

Of course, it requires having a firm idea of the skills and competencies required for each role, which is where a skills mapping exercise comes in handy.

4. Pay transparency

New pay transparency laws are coming into effect across the United States and Canada mandating that organizations start sharing salary ranges internally with employees and externally on job postings.

This is good news for lower-salaried workers as pay transparency laws in Norway saw their incomes rise 5% as a result—a stat that backs up pay transparency as a driver of pay equity.

Further, displaying salary ranges in job ads has been found to increase the number of applicants by 90%.

In our view, pay transparency is a win-win for businesses and workers, here’s some guidance on how you can approach it.

5. AI isn’t coming for your job

It’s a common narrative that robots are coming to take our jobs and there is some truth in it. How it will all play out in the long run is anyone’s guess (we’re hoping for techno-utopia). 

What will interest you, dear reader, is that a new study reveals that AI is removing middle managers, boosting product development, and that HR jobs are safe.

Ultimately, AI is an advanced tool that can help HR professionals with recruitment, data entry, and people analytics.

6. Focus on employee experience design

Increasingly, we’re seeing HR and People and Culture teams take a design-led approach to improving the employee experience

This means borrowing concepts from UX and CX teams, like employee journey mapping for example, to design products and services that increase employee engagement, product, and retention.

7. Diversity, equity, and inclusion to the fore

Did you know that by 2065 it’s predicted that there will be no dominant ethnic or racial group in the US?

As populations diversify, and more women and people from underrepresented groups enter the workforce, the issue of diversity, equity, and inclusion will be finally tackled properly.

This will take the form of increased budget for DEI projects, the appointment of DEI officers, and initiatives such as employee resource groups, advisory boards, and task forces.

While we’re aware that a lot of DEI folks have been laid off, and that some budgets have been slashed, this only goes to show what some companies really value.

This trend is unstoppable.

8. Global workforce

With the advent of remote work, we also see another trend: the rise of a globally distributed workforce.

Whereas before hiring a worker from abroad was a bit scary and complicated, as companies become used to remote working, hiring someone from a significantly different time zone will become more normal.

To make the process easier still, employer of record organizations are growing in prevalence, taking the burden off of HR teams.

9. Onboarding 101 

According to a study by Sapling, 88% of organizations still don’t onboard well.

When the pandemic forced everyone to work from home, the already struggling onboarding process suffered. HR professionals found that remote hiring, onboarding, and training were even bigger challenges.

The wins are the to be had—89 percent of those who received effective onboarding reported feeling more engaged at work, according to a BambooHR study.

10. Unionization

In the U.S., approval with labor unions is at the highest level since the 1960s and we’ve seen unions being formed at high-profile companies such as Amazon and Starbucks.

If this trend continues and unions continue to grow in power, more HR professionals will have to play go-between between senior leaders and employees and adapt to work with them.

Expect a lot of employee and industrial relations but, fear not, unions and HR can actually work together and a contrastive union can help both parties get the best deal for them.

11. Toward new operating models

Most HR teams, at least in larger organizations anyway, operate on a form of the Ulrich model: HR business partner, centers of excellence, shared services centers.

But some argue that this model is outdated because business partners end up getting burdened with too much admin and some companies are now moving toward more complex work environments, for example temporary, cross-functional teams.

One new model well is EY’s People Value Chain (PVC) model. It consists of three components: people consultants, the digital people team, and virtual global business services (VGBS).

People consultants work closely with senior execs to aid in talent management and development, the digital team implements new technologies to support employees, and virtual global business services take care of administrative tasks and operational services.

EY estimates that combined, VGBS and the digital people team can handle an astonishing 72% of HR’s current scope of work.

This can free up substantial HR resources that can then be redeployed to deliver value in other ways.

The PVC model is one of a number of new models being tested and developed and, while these things normally take time, it’s a trend worth keeping an eye on.

Any more to add?

The future is never certain, but we’re pretty confident in what we’re seeing on the above. What have we missed out, are there any trends you’d like to add? 

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Related read: HR Technology Trends Of 2023 And Beyond

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.