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6 HR leaders predict the top workforce challenges in 2023

January 19, 2023, 12:51 PM UTC
Group of business persons talking in the office.
2023 will be another year full of HR-centered debates.
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Good morning!

From mounting layoffs to executing return-to-office policies, 2023 will be another whirlwind year for human resources. And figuring out what to prioritize might be the biggest challenge for people leaders. But don’t take my word for it.

I spoke to several HR chiefs across industries to understand what they consider the most glaring workforce challenges this year. The answers were far-ranging, but a few themes arose: dealing with a tough labor market, catering to diverse talent needs, and building a resilient workforce through upskilling and reskilling.

Here’s what they predict the HR terrain will look like in 2023.

Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Securing top talent

Peter Fasolo, CHRO, Johnson & Johnson

“In 2023, HR leaders across industries will continue navigating competitive talent landscapes, driven by the need to balance employee flexibility, compensation, and well-being in uncertain economic and labor markets. Organizations’ current and future success comes down to being innovative and agile in their talent strategy…We are taking a two-fold approach by bringing in new talent while also providing our current workforce opportunities for reskilling, upskilling, and development, particularly in digital and data-focused areas that enable us to keep pace with and anticipate evolving talent and business needs.”

Ann Marr, EVP of global HR, World Wide Technology

“Despite recent alarmist headlines, the demand for top tech talent remains steadfast. Companies across all sectors must attract savvy tech talent to deliver great user experiences and succeed in their ambitious digital transformation journeys. As we anticipate the repercussions of current macroeconomic trends, the reality for 2023 is that all businesses will need to differentiate their business to grow. This year, we will see leaders adopt a more creative, flexible approach to talent management rooted in developing a strong talent pipeline. One solution: upskilling individuals with unconventional backgrounds to allow multiple pathways to success. This creative talent approach is a commitment and worth encouraging as many workers pursue new opportunities.”

Catering to a multigenerational workforce

Angela Santone, SVP of HR, AT&T

“For the first time in history, there are five generations in the workforce simultaneously. The unique perspectives and experiences they bring are invaluable to the innovation and success of companies like AT&T. But meeting the needs of such a diverse workforce will continue to be a challenge as leaders strive to attract top talent and support employees’ personal and professional aspirations. Many of our employees are part of the ‘sandwich generation’—between ages 35 and 54—responsible for caring for their children and aging parents. We’ve made a concerted effort to expand our programs to support the total well-being of our employees and their family members, whether that’s paying off student loans, starting a family, or saving for retirement. A company’s ability to listen to employees and holistically respond to their unique needs is more important than ever.”

Building a resilient workforce

Suzan McDaniel, principal and CHRO, Edward Jones

“The biggest opportunities for HR leaders in 2023 center on building leadership skills and capabilities in dynamic and evolving environments and building resilience in our workforce to thrive in change and transformation. HR leaders will also have an opportunity to help organizations become world-class at working in a hybrid environment, perfecting workforce planning to identify skills and capabilities needed in the future, and upskilling and developing their workforce to be highly capable in these areas.”

Sheila Murty, EVP of people and culture, Tillamook County Creamery Association 

“In 2023, organizational design and scaling for the future will be crucial to advancing business success, as is effective talent management—especially facilitating internal mobility and redeploying talent to new areas of the business that create new skilling and growth opportunities for the employee.”

Keeping work remote

Carmen Whitney Orr, CPO, Yelp

“HR leaders need to be willing to throw out the old playbooks and reimagine what their employees and businesses need. I’m excited for the opportunity 2023 brings for people leaders to help their organizations be even more intentional around creating connections and engagement, regardless of location.”

Amber Burton

Reporter's Notebook

The most compelling data, quotes, and insights from the field.

One thing HR leaders should ban as employees trickle back into the office is birthday cake. Health officials are urging employers to introduce healthier options, with one equating office cake culture to being “as bad as passive smoking.”

Around the Table

A round-up of the most important HR headlines, studies, podcasts, and long-reads.

- Amazon is laying off human resources employees and replacing them with a chatbot. Seattle Times

- Small and midsize accounting firms are hiring tax preparers from overseas as they struggle to find enough accountants for tax season. Wall Street Journal

- While stigmas around maternity leave endure, many women report feeling better at their jobs once they return to the office. Listen: 19 mins. Financial Times


Everything you need to know from Fortune.

Cheat code. Union employees of the French video game developer Ubisoft called for a strike after the CEO sent an email pushing responsibility for poor financial results onto staff. —Nicholas Gordon

More tech layoffs. Microsoft announced plans to lay off about 5% of its employees on Wednesday. —The Associated Press

Working with cancer. The CEO of the world’s third-largest advertising agency pledged to secure the job and salary of anyone with cancer for a year. —Orianna Rosa Royle

Résumé red flag. An unnamed tech company hired the self-styled economist, CEO, and rapper Heather Morgan. Plot twist: She's on 24-hour house arrest for allegedly trying to embezzle $4.5 billion in Bitcoin. —Orianna Rosa Royle

Sachs severance. Laid-off Goldman Sachs employees received their severance packages earlier this week. Here's what's inside. —Paige McGlauflin

This is the web version of CHRO Daily, a newsletter focusing on helping HR executives navigate the needs of the workplace. Today’s edition was curated by Paolo Confino. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.