As HR leaders continue to rise to the occasion and demonstrate the impact we can make, there’s a heighted focus on proactively planning for what’s now and preparing for what’s next. But with the future of work evolving at a record pace, how do you know where to set your sights and what steps can be taken today to help drive better people and business outcomes for tomorrow?

The SAP SuccessFactors Growth and Insights team is here to help. Each year, this team of PhD-level organizational psychologists and HR technology market intelligence experts aggregate and synthesize data from a wide range of reputable business press resources that put forward HR trends and predictions and conduct a content analysis to derive key themes or “meta-trends.” For 2023, the analysis involved 73 resources, leading to a list of 346 individual trends, which were then categorized into seven broader meta-trends.

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Below is a quick recap of the 2023 HR meta-trends and a few examples of how organizations of all sizes are using SAP SuccessFactors solutions to get ahead – and stay ahead – of the curve.

From Trend to Foundational: Employee Experience

If you do a quick comparison from past years’ meta-trends analyses, you’ll notice an elevated shift for the employee experience. To no surprise, this topic continues to dominate the conversation and has become a cornerstone for HR and business strategies. With the recognition that all HR meta-trends are shaped by and shapers of the employee experience, our team of experts have “graduated” employee experience from trend to a foundational principle.

“HR digitalization was a key objective in our transformation to address our work culture challenges. Our investment in the tools necessary to develop and engage our people was an important aspect enabling the execution of our business strategy.”

– Arun Serikar, Director Global HR Technology, Whirlpool Corporation

1. Winning the Race for Skills

With the combination of employees maintaining the upper hand in the job market and many parts of the world continuing to face relatively tight labor markets, the focus on skills-based hiring and employer brand has skyrocketed the race for skills into the number one slot for 2023.

“We knew that to continue to be an employer of choice, we wanted to satisfy the needs of our employees and applicants who were demanding an enhanced experience.”

– Cherilyn Nobleza, Executive Director HR Transformation and Analytics, University of Toronto

2. Mobilizing the Workforce for the Future

Organizations are continuing to lean into learning and development to keep employees engaged and properly skilled – and with economic uncertainty likely leading to a shift between external hiring and internal mobility, this topic remains top of mind.

“Thanks to SAP SuccessFactors solutions, we have transformed into an organization that prioritizes learning and growth and our employee engagement has significantly increased. We are now composed of people with a habit of learning not once a month but a little bit every day.”

– Adela Giral Lopez, CHRO, Gentera SAB de CV

3. Adopting Emerging Technologies with Purpose

As artificial intelligence (AI) use cases within HR begin to span across the employee journey, employees are beginning to see the added value for help in completing basic tasks and receiving personalized recommendations. But for that comfort level to grow, it’s imperative that HR teams remain vigilant in ensuring the use of intelligent technology is fair and transparent.

“With support from SAP, we have been able to extend the functionality in SAP SuccessFactors solutions to create an innovative solution that helps employees identify and develop the skills that will be vital in the digital world and the future of our company.”

– Gabriel de Diego, HR Strategy and Transformation Director, Telefónica S.A

4. Making Flexible Work, Work

Who wouldn’t love a four-day work week? This is just one of the many options being considered – and, in some cases, implemented – as organizations continue to experiment with new flexible work options designed for where, when, and how work happens.

SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone is helping us truly empower and engage our employees by creating one space where employees can find everything they need and get virtual support to get their work done – no matter where they are.”

– Yoav Ventura, Cofounder and Managing Partner, AKT Solutions Limited

5. Embedding Holistic Well-Being Everywhere

Although many have settled into the “next normal” from a working perspective, there are still a significant number of stressors at play that emphasize the need for organizations to continue their understanding, support, and prioritization of employees’ holistic well-being – including their mental, physical, emotional, and financial health.

“Regularly engaging with employees is critical to ensure everyone’s voice is heard, their needs are addressed, and there is a positive work environment that makes people want to stay with us.”

– Tennyson Devoe, Senior Director of Safety and Organizational Excellence, Purolator

6. Embracing the Complexity of DEI&B

In 2023 we’ll begin to see organizations take a “lifecycle approach,” meaning diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) will be embedded across all people-related activities, with particular focus on practices related to talent acquisition and retention.

“SAP solutions are helping us achieve our diversity and inclusion goals. Greater visibility into the total workforce and transparent, improved reporting capabilities allow us to set recruitment and succession targets around race, gender, and disability.”

– Jeanett Modise, Group HR Director, Sanlam Life Insurance Limited

7. Preparing People Leaders for Today and Tomorrow

Your next generation of leaders will play a significant role in the success of your organization and in 2023, it’s all about developing leadership and management skills across the workforce. Keep in mind – not every high-performing individual is a good fit for managing a team so alternative paths outside of the traditional career ladder should be made available.

“Our talent strategy brings stronger engagement through clear objective setting, continuous performance, and development conversations. We have the opportunity to improve internal mobility through succession planning capability, creating a diverse talent pipeline at all levels.”

– Fiona Brunskill, Director of People and Cultural Change, Transport for London

For additional insights on the meta-trends and how you can prepare for what’s next, read the full report, HR Meta-Trends in 2023: Defined by the Employee Experience.

Carrie Klauss is global director of Solution Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors.