The last three years have changed everything we knew about the workplace for businesses, leaders, and employees. Now, as the dust settles, one fact becomes clear: 2023 is the year of humanity and human centered design.
Employees are beginning to ask human questions about the work they perform: What is the purpose behind my work? Do I align with my company’s goals? Does my employer support my work-life balance? Does my manager see my value?
4 ways to support a human-centric workplace in 2023
An organization is only as good as the people it employs. Therefore, to retain and attract top talent, leaders must focus on making work, work for everyone.
Let’s look at how four workplace trends support 2023’s year of the human-centric workplace.
1. Four day workweek gains popularity
Did you know a six-day workweek was once the standard? However, Henry Ford — the founder of the Ford Motor Company — took his six-day workweek operation down to five days with no changes in employee compensation. His decision trickled to other businesses, and the five-day workweek was born.
Recently, employees have been calling for another reduction in the workweek. Many say they can get their work done in four days and don’t need the extra workday.
The idea became so popular that Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart started 4 Day Week Global — a not-for-profit community — to provide a platform for like-minded people who support a four-day week as the future of work.
The not-for-profit found more benefits in the four-day model than the five-day model. 63% of businesses found attracting and retaining talent easier with a four-day workweek. In addition, 78% of employees with four-day workweeks are happier and less stressed. Here are some additional benefits a four-day work model provides:
- Supports employee flexibility
- Increases employee happiness
- Decreases business expenses
- Improves productivity
- Less wasted hours
Jon Leland, the chief strategy officer of Kickstarter expressed, “The four-day week has been transformative for our business and our people. Our staff is more focused, more engaged, and more dedicated, helping us hit our goals better than before.”
There are two four-day workweek models for companies. One centers on the entire organization being closed for 72 continuous hours. The other is employee-based — often referred to as the flex four-day workweek — where employees can choose which four days of the week they want to work. Ultimately, either model helps employees feel more relaxed, motivated, and engaged.
2. Well-being remains at the forefront
The risk of employee burnout remains high. 48% of employees expressed that their well-being declined in 2022, despite many companies’ best efforts. As a result, 2023 has an even higher demand for mental health.
With the current economic uncertainty combined with recent tech layoffs, employers need to prioritize their employees’ well-being. As a result, they must put steps in place to show their support.
Here are proven and effective ways companies can boost employee well-being:
Make recognition and praise part of your company culture. One of the easiest well-being initiatives to implement is a recognition program. Award employees for their hard-working efforts and achievements. 70% of employees say recognition at work makes them feel more connected to peers and happier at home. Remember to consider a recognition-rich culture.
Throw down fitness challenges. Fitness challenges unluck the spirit of fun and friendly competition. Peer involvement encourages greater participation and inspires teams to push one another. Fitness challenges don’t have to be complex. A simple walking challenge can promote physical health and mental well-being.
Create a monthly virtual wellness workshop. Every month find well-being experts — on stress, mental health, burnout, sleep, and nutrition — to host monthly wellness workshops. Send the monthly event series out each month with a virtual link. This non-mandatory workshop is a great way to show your employees that you support their wellness and work-life balance.
Institute flexible work hours for improved work-life balance. Employees’ lives are multi-faceted. Of course, work is important, but so many things outside work, such as family, community, and hobbies, give them meaning. Allow your employees flexible hours so they can alter their work habits to fit their other needs.
Support professional development. In a competitive job market, it’s essential that you support your employees’ professional growth — whether this is continuing education programs, mentorships, or internal training courses. Such programs will help increase employee retention and attract top talent.
Extend trust by pushing employees to use their paid time off (PTO). Pre-pandemic, employees who used their PTO felt judged. Post-pandemic, companies must create a culture where taking PTO is celebrated and encouraged. Leadership should urge employees who have not used PTO to take a vacation or use those days as well-being days.
Incentivize employees to practice gratitude. A little gratitude goes a long way. Studies show that gratitude positively correlates with happiness, stronger relationships, and better mental well-being. Applications like Fond or Teamphoria support peer-to-peer recognition. Employees can quickly give their colleagues a shout-out for their hard work. The entire company can then join in on showing that employee gratitude.
3. Hybrid work continues to have leverage
After three years of trial and error with various work models, the people have spoken. They prefer the hybrid model over 100% remote and in-office models.
While the remote model offers flexibility, employees crave face-to-face communication. The hybrid working model perfectly balances flexibility and in-person office time. Workers can benefit from the freedom of working from home and the collaboration of on-site teamwork.
Mark Dixon, the founder of IWG, expressed, “Today, hybrid employees enjoy the benefits of privacy for individual work and the benefits of in-person for collaborative tasks. While hybrid work is a tactic for cutting costs, it is also a strategy for boosting productivity and retention. More than 70% of people say that hybrid work has positively impacted their employees’ well-being and business.”
While all hybrid models support work-life balance and employee well-being, there are various types:
- The flexible hybrid work model allows employees to choose their location and working hours based on their priorities for the day.
- For the fixed hybrid work model, companies set the days and times employees are allowed to work remotely or go into the office.
- An office-first hybrid work model is when employees are expected to be on-site but have the flexibility to choose a couple of days a week to work remotely.
- Remote-first hybrid work models allow employees to work remotely most of the time with the occasional visits to the office for team building and collaboration.
Hybrid work benefits everyone. For example, employers see an increase in productivity and lower office expenses, and employees see improvement in their work-life balance and mental well-being. Caregivers especially benefit by having more time to support their loved ones without consequence.
“From a business perspective, investing in the hybrid work model appears to be a no brainers due to the well-being benefits it naturally offers,” suggests Dixon.
4. Pay transparency gathers momentum
The Great Resignation brought the fight for pay transparency, which continues to take center stage in 2023. Those seeking to get a new job at a new company — or explore alternative internal jobs — want to ensure that their time spent during the interview process is worthwhile. The new position’s salary must be enough to pay for their living expenses and lifestyle. Not displaying the salary range leaves a lot up for interpretation.
So, has anything been done to push for pay transparency?
Currently, pay transparency laws protect a fifth of U.S. workers, requiring companies to include a “good faith” salary range on their job listings. And while countries like the U.K. don’t have concrete laws, a pay transparency pilot was launched in 2022 that encourages businesses to display their salaries on their job postings.
Despite pay transparency’s recent popularity, some companies still hide salary ranges and are ambiguous about merit increases. But with the job market as competitive as it is, employers must provide workers greater clarity and communication around compensation. Both job seekers and current employees want to know how their efforts will be rewarded and how their role contributes to the company’s success.
Michelle Cheng, talent director of Notion Capital, “A company that’s happy to publish its salaries is more likely to compensate its people fairly, manage performance consistently and communicate on other matters clearly. Increasingly, top candidates are looking for companies that align with their personal values, so it’s no surprise they’re looking for companies that prize transparency.”
Make no mistake, pay transparency is gaining momentum. And if businesses want to retain and attract top talent, they must adhere to the call.
2023 is the year of putting employees first
A human-centered workplace puts employees as the priority. The last few years tested employers more than ever before. With the abrupt shift to remote and hybrid work, mass resignations, and economic uncertainty, companies have been challenged on all fronts. As a result, the workplace has shifted from office-centric to human-centric.
Gartner research shows us that human-centric work models boost employee happiness and performance. Each employee is unique and different, and every day they are exposed to situations that can negatively or positively affect their motivation. The above workplace trends support the latter. It’s time to put your people first. After all, 2023 is the year of the human.