The State of HR in 2023

HR leader outlines key areas of focus for the year ahead

The State of HR in 2023

The strategic role of HR leaders is changing, and with it, the dynamic of leadership teams in Australia and across the globe.

As employers continue to refine their ways of working for a post-pandemic world, they are also navigating a difficult macroeconomic climate, talent shortages, and the challenge of meeting the needs of diverse workforces. In this environment, identifying new ways to enable and support employees is one of the most pressing conversations that leadership teams are having. 

There’s more change underway in how we work than ever before. Because of this, HR executives and their teams are having a profound impact on the strategic direction of organisations.

From developing experience-centric cultures and focusing on DEI, to heightened awareness of well-being and scaling through technology, the HR function is no longer seen as just the glue between employees and the organisation – it's viewed as a critical growth driver that’s as invaluable to the bottom line as marketing, sales, or R&D. In fact, Qualtrics research shows three-quarters of HR leaders in Australia say improving EX capability in organisations is a pathway to significantly improve business results.

The actions of executive teams in the country suggest they agree, with 78% of HR leaders saying their company’s senior executives now have a greater focus on employee experience - and half say executives are viewing employee feedback at least monthly. With regular employee insights now critical to helping inform the decisions of executive teams, it’s hardly surprising to learn that 87% of HR leaders think it’s going to be important to increase the frequency of employee listening over the next three years.

Accelerating the strategic impact of HR

As HR leaders continue to demonstrate and increase their critical strategic impact, recent research from Qualtrics outlines three areas to prioritise:

Upskill to meet the moment

The top four most commonly reported priorities by Senior HR leaders are attracting talent (70%), employee training and development (65%), employee onboarding (62%), and progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (59%). But development isn’t just employee specific. HR leaders also recognise the need to invest in their own development, with 86% reporting that experience management is an important capability for HR to grow, and 76% believing that the category will play an important role in their career success.

These focus areas are great news for employee and organisational growth. Learning and development are inherent psychological needs, major drivers of employee engagement, and essential in helping employers adapt to fast-changing and uncertain situations, like we find ourselves in today.                    

Go beyond traditional surveys

HR leaders have made astronomical strides when it comes to evolving feedback programs. In fact, more than half of HR leaders say their business is capturing employee feedback at least four times a year, and they’re listening around a range of topics - from engagement through to onboarding, exit, and after major organisational changes and updates.

The next evolution of this process is to go beyond traditional methods of surveying, like the annual engagement survey. With this shift, organisations give employees the opportunity to dictate the themes important to them and provide feedback in their own words, during the moments that matter to them. By moving from surveying to listening, organisations can gain a deeper understanding of the ‘moments between moments’ and create a more holistic view of the employee experience throughout their journeys. 

Secure organisation wide buy-in

Despite the broad recognition and value for employee experience management, the obstacles the discipline faces - as listed by HR leaders - provide insight into how these practices and skills are still maturing. The most common obstacle referenced by HR leaders is lack of clear strategy (44%), closely followed by lack of funding (42%), and lack of critical skills (42%). An unclear return on investment (36%) and misaligned incentives and rewards (36%) are also seen as challenges to overcome.

As strategic leaders, it is up to the CHRO’s team to develop and lead a clear employee experience vision and strategy for the organisation that is connected to outcomes and business results. This vision and strategy should be elevated by a multi-year plan to secure investments, build critical skills, and partner with stakeholders such as the CTO in an effort to deliver on these ambitions. 

Keep moving forward

Right now, HR leaders are at the helm, navigating their organisations through some of the most novel and complex challenges they have ever faced.  They are charting a path for how their organisations operate at every level to nurture people-centric cultures. HR leaders have cemented the importance of what they do, but to continue moving forward, it’s now critical they achieve strategic alignment around experience management across the whole organisation. 

Discover how the role and impact of HR is evolving at two of Asia's leading organisations - ABC and Standard Chartered Bank - watch the webinar on demand.

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