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Workplace Trends Organizational Leaders Need to Know About in 2023

January 6, 2023 Deana LaFauci

New year, fresh start! Organizational leaders should take time this month to understand the broader trends impacting their organizations and their people, so that they can inform and develop their approach to employee happiness and engagement in 2023.

From shifts in our work calendar to continued emphasis on workplace mental health and a reimagination of how we empower women in the workplace, these are four trends to be aware of as we begin a new year:

  1. The “Status Quo” calendar is out: More companies are nixing meetings.

What does an effective, focused schedule look like in 2023? For many employees and organizations, it’s a calendar with lots of blank spaces—and a new freedom to drive more meaningful interactions.

Earlier this month, Shopify became the latest organization to totally nix recurring meetings with more than two people “in perpetuity.” Shopify leaders are calling it a “calendar purge,” and they also initiated a policy to scrap all meetings on Wednesdays. And, meetings of more than 50 people can only take place during a six-hour set window on Thursdays.

Shopify is just one of many companies recently that are nixing meetings, joining Meta, Clorox and Twilio.

What that means for organizational leaders

In the first two years of the pandemic, time spent in meetings more than tripled, according to Microsoft, based on data from thousands of users of its workplace software. The number of weekly meetings more than doubled.

The cost is huge. According to Bloomberg, “employees spend about 18 hours a week on average in meetings, according to a survey conducted last year, and they only decline 14% of invites even though they’d prefer to back out of 31% of them.”

What worked in 2020, 2021 and 2022 may not work in 2023—and a new year is an opportunity to embrace a new approach to workplace collaboration.

In addition to a shift to virtual and hybrid work formats, attitudes have changed, with employees seeking out meaningful opportunities for real brainstorming and creative thinking—both inside the physical office and in Zoom rooms.

It makes sense that, as we reimagine what is possible at work, we also rethink the tradition of jam-packed schedules with meetings with large cohorts of people. What best serves your employees in 2023 may not be what worked in past years—and that may mean taking a hard look at every reoccurring calendar item and doing a clean sweep.

Looking for more meeting tips? Check out Dr. Steven Rogelberg’s advice for hosting effective meetings in a virtual and hybrid world.

  1. Employees are looking for continued focus on mental health in the workplace.

While mental health and how our workplace culture can empower employees and leaders to live full and healthy lives has always been a part of the conversation, the COVID-19 pandemic has refocused attention on this important topic.

The U.S. Surgeon General reported that 71% of employees believe their employer is more concerned about the mental health of employees now than in the past—and the value employees place on mental health support is significant. In fact, 81% of individuals report that they will seek out workplaces that support mental health in their future job search.

What that means for organizational leaders

Employers should consider mental health initiatives and overall corporate culture to recruit and retain talent in a highly competitive market.

What does this look like in action? The APA’s 2022 Work and Well-being Survey points to the benefits and culture that employees are looking for. When asked to select from a list of a dozen possible supports they would like to see employers offer, the most popular were:

  • Flexible work hours (41% of workers)
  • Workplace culture that respects time off (34%)
  • Ability to work remotely (33%)
  • Four-day workweek (31%)

And, the impact of these offerings is strong. According to the same survey, among those whose employers offer flexible work hours and the opportunity to work remotely, 95% reported that they are effective supports.

  1. Continued inflation has an impact on organizational culture and employee retention.

When leaders seek to understand the needs of their employees—and the culture of their organization—it is critical to evaluate the broader environment. The same APA study finds that a majority of employees (71%) said they are worried that their compensation has not kept up with inflation. Those employees were also “significantly more likely to report negative impacts of work on their psychological well-being.” In fact, 39% said their work environment “has had a negative impact on their mental health,” compared with 21% of those who were not worried about compensation.

What that means for organizational leaders

As retention of high-value employees in a tight market continues to be a focus for many industries, employers should understand the impact that the broader economic climate has on individual attrition. According to the APA, “employees who worried about their compensation not keeping pace with inflation not only were more likely to express work as having negative impacts on their mental health but also indicated openness to other opportunities.”

Bottom line: two in five of the workers concerned about inflation and compensation say they intend to look for a new job, and they are nearly twice as likely to say they have a desire to quit their current job.

  1. Women are making sacrifices on the way to the top—and trying to live up to the “perfection standard” is leaving some in crisis.

Last fall, the Harvard Business Review published their latest research on women in the workplace, which showed that, while women are moving up the ranks of leadership, there is a personal cost to their ascension.

HBR interviewed high-performing women and discovered that many of them, “particularly women of color, are in crisis, struggling to live up to the demands of the ideal worker and within the constraints of a workplace not designed with them in mind.”

This finding is consistent with Linkage’s research on the advancement of women leaders, which found that women leaders encounter significant hurdles to advancement in the workplace and that constantly seeking to “prove your value” within the organization can lead to burnout and stagnation.

HBR noted that “trying to do it all and be it all leaves these women with debilitating health issues, disproportionate workloads, and pressure to perform at all costs.”

What that means for organizations

The talent is already there to supercharge a diverse leadership pipeline—and women leaders are seeking out opportunities for advancement—but the constant struggle to achieve “perfection” is leading to burnout and opt-downs.

Leaders must understand the factors impacting the advancement of women, and especially women of color, in their organizations. In many cases, women face biases during the promotion process. According to Yale Insights, which published a case study of a retail giant in 2021, Professor Kelly Shue and her coauthors found that “women got higher performance ratings than men but were consistently—and incorrectly—judged as having less leadership potential.” The women reviewed scored well on their performance, but even when they exceeded expectations, their leadership “potential” was underrated by their managers. In short, the abstract concept of “potential” derailed their promotion track, and the authors point to the fact that rating “potential” is more subject to bias.

In 2023, leaders should carefully reevaluate the talent systems that exist within their organization, which may be holding women back in the promotion process, while also empowering women leaders with access to community and support through differentiated development experiences, including cohort-based learning, coaching and more.

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