As a difficult 2022 draws to a close, our own Steve Herbert looks at what actions Human Resources professionals should perhaps be prioritising in 2023…
The economic and political turmoil of the last twelve months may well cast a lengthy shadow into the new year of 2023 and beyond.
With this in mind we would suggest that employers – and in particular, their Human Resources (HR) experts – should perhaps focus on the following three key themes in 2023:
The cost-of-living crisis
It is already clear that 2023 will be a financially difficult one for employees and their families.
Household budgets are being squeezed as a result of a 40-year high in UK inflation figures, combined with rapidly increasing mortgage and borrowing costs.
From an employment point of view there is evidence to suggest that financially stressed employees are less engaged and/or productive, and a recent Partners& poll revealed that more than two thirds (67%) of employers were aware of at least some employees already in financial difficulties. The same research indicated that almost all (97%) organisations are expecting more of their workers to be experiencing money worries in 2023.
Yet providing significant – inflation matching – pay awards is not a viable option for many employers, particularly as most are equally constrained by the same financial factors facing their workers.
It follows that HR experts may have to identify and support non-financial routes to help their employees navigate the cost-of-living challenges next year. Employers should therefore review employee benefit offerings to see if there are any benefits that may offer some practical support, and also offer low-cost financial wellbeing tools and guidance to help employees control their finances through these difficult times and beyond.
NHS waiting lists
Britain is rightly wedded to its National Health Service (NHS), and the NHS performed heroically through the dark days of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Yet the service is now under severe pressure, with staffing, facilities, and funding problems dating back to the austerity years of the 2010s, and a waiting list that has more than doubled to over seven million people since the arrival of Covid-19.
The problem for employers is that so many of their employees are reliant on the NHS for treatment when ill or injured. A Partners& survey in September revealed than just 15% of employers offered access to private medical treatments to all their workers, suggesting that most workforces are exposed to the risk of employees being unable to work – or perhaps working at below their optimum level of productivity – whilst awaiting NHS treatment. This situation is anything but ideal for employers desperate to maintain full productivity and output during the difficult months ahead.
Partners& would therefore encourage many more employers to consider options to fund access to private medical treatments to bypass those NHS waiting lists. There are options available to include all sizes of businesses and budgets, including remote GP appointments, health cashplans, private medical insurance, and healthcare trusts.
Recruitment and retention
Despite recent economic turbulence, the UK still finds itself with very low levels of unemployment, and a resultant shortage in quality candidates available for employment.
On a governmental level this is good news, as it’s far better for the national finances to have more people in work and paying taxes to HM Treasury than out of work and claiming state benefit payments.
Yet this is not such welcome news for employers. The currently limited supply of potential candidates may result in cash-strapped employers having to find more finances to retain and/or attract good quality employees to their business.
And employers that won’t – or perhaps more likely can’t – fund such pay awards could end up with staffing shortages and/or demotivated employees. Neither is ideal as the nation battles the expected recession ahead. It follows that Human Resources professionals need to do all they can to ensure that their employees are fully engaged and motivated to produce their maximum output.
HR experts should therefore seek to revisit and review their existing employee benefits package and other offerings to ensure that any and all features that will help attract, engage, or retain workers are well communicated and understood. Partners& can help with both the review process and staff communications to help these important benefit messages land well – and land regularly – with your workforce.
So, plenty to think about in 2023, and we will be back in the new year to provide more insights, thoughts, and support options to employers