CEO Magazine: How the successful workplace of the future will rely on employee engagement

From reward and retention to culture and automation, the people management challenges leaders face in the future will directly impact your team. However, there are solutions to ensure a cohesive and engaged workforce.

Welcome to the future of work. The transformation is already upon us as organizations lay the foundations shaping the workplaces of tomorrow where employee engagement is no longer a nice-to-have, but a must-have.

Momentous trends, such as workplace flexibility and employee wellbeing, accelerated during the pandemic and became permanent fixtures in 2022, thanks in part to a buoyant economy and headline-grabbing, employee-led revolutions such as the Great Resignation and “quiet quitting”.

Now, 2023 is set to become another pivotal year in the changing nature of work. Organizations are tasked with redefining and managing employee expectations as the world is further impacted by significant geopolitical challenges.

The global post-pandemic economy is also entering a pronounced slowdown, with inflation, debt and rising unemployment all piling up on the boardroom table.

At the same time, employers are starting to incorporate automation and AI solutions, including an ambitious re-tooling of the workforce to deal with the inevitability of these changes. In modern parlance, it’s “a lot” for organizations and their employees.

A shifting balance
According to Ben Hamer, Future of Work Lead at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia and author of The Kickass Career: How to Succeed in the Future of Work, 2023 will see another significant tipping point.

“Moving from an environment where there were more job vacancies than job seekers, organizations were at the whim of needing to try and attract and retain the best talent,” he says.

“Now, we can expect the balance of power will swing slightly back to the middle. So there will be a greater level of control and an ability to drive top-down change from the CEO’s perspective.”

Hamer asserts that if 2022 was the year of growth, 2023 will be the year of efficiency and productivity, which will naturally have a significant impact on people management.

“Maintaining employee engagement and productivity will be important as hiring freezes come to the fore,” he says.

“When going through the recruitment cycle, a critical piece is how business repurposes roles so they’re not increasing the size of their footprint from a workforce strategy perspective.”

Therefore, right-sizing will be essential. “Part of that is an organizational redesign piece. So critically evaluating when a role becomes vacant.

“Do organizations backfill it with the same kind of role at the same level, with the same salary, or do they repurpose the role they’ve already got funding for into something more mission-critical and more aligned to strategy?” he explains.

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