Person's hand turning a wooden block with a two on it into the side with a three representing a change to the calendar from 2022 to 2023.
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Culture and cost of living replace Covid as Irish workers’ top concerns for 2023

3 Jan 2023

From the ongoing battle to retain candidates to gender pay gap reporting and new technology, we take a look at some of the topics likely to dominate the employment market in 2023.

Regarding workplaces, this past year was dominated by conversations around issues such as wellbeing, the need for skills development, and retention. These issues are likely to be a big focus again in 2023.

Quiet quitting’ is another topic we won’t have seen the back of in 2022. It’s unlikely to be a phrase we forget about this coming year as employers struggle to keep staff engaged.

Gender pay gap reporting and, to a lesser extent, the metaverse, are also set to become talking points for 2023.

Here’s a guide to the employment issues you’re likely to be reading a lot more about over the next year.

Gender pay gap reporting

As you may know, gender pay gap reporting was made mandatory for all companies with 250 and more employees in the final weeks of 2022.

Some tech companies managed to get their reports out before January 2023, but it’s likely the issue will continue to be talked about as others begin releasing their reports over the next few weeks and months.

The STEM sector will likely prove particularly crucial to this conversation, as there is a lack of women in high-paying and leadership roles in engineering and IT ­– meaning the pay gaps are wider in these sectors.

Organisations such as Ibec say that gender pay gap reporting will not address wider structural inequalities that mean more women take lower-paying jobs than men.

Retention

In 2022, retention was already a hot topic. Paul Dooley, CEO of Typetec, told SiliconRepublic.com that his approach to tacking the problem has involved the IT company switching to a four-day working week. And Careers editor Jenny Darmody looked into the phenomenon of ‘stay interviews’ for staff retention.

For the coming year, talent acquisition, retention and recruitment will remain the top priorities for businesses, according to Adare Human Resource Management’s HR Barometer Report.

According to the report, the expected average employee turnover of 11.1pc in 2023 demonstrates a return of confidence in the labour market from the upheaval felt in 2022.

The report recommends businesses move away from reactionary measures and lean more towards longer-term planning to retain valued employees.

Learning and development

L&D was also a focus of the HR Barometer report, and it will hopefully be a priority for organisations in 2023.

More than half (58pc) of the 190 HR leaders surveyed by Adare said their organisation plans to increase their spend on learning and development in the future.

They plan to allocate 9.04pc of overall payroll to skills’ development, which represents a significant increase on previous years. (This is the eighth edition of the report.)

However, MD of Adare Human Resource Management Sarah Fagan warned that companies should have a clear idea of what return on investment they hoped to achieve from putting funds into L&D.

She said this is necessary in order to maximise the usefulness of any L&D schemes companies do decide to fund.

Wellbeing

Workers will likely continue to be concerned with cost-of-living increases, building a better work-life balance and managing their mental health in 2023.

Laya Healthcare’s Workplace Wellbeing Trends report for the coming year found that, for many, financial concerns are replacing Covid-19 concerns. This research included a survey conducted with 1,000 employees and another conducted with 200 HR leaders.

The financial stress on workers is so great that it could end up being a factor in employee market dynamics. 85pc of those that Laya surveyed referred to cost-of-living concerns. Money worries could mean workers are too scared to leave jobs, or that they will cite it as a reason for leaving.

Among HR leaders, a third (33pc) said they were very concerned about the mental health of employees in the workplace. This was an increase of 18pc compared with six months ago.

Employee anxieties were higher in women respondents (2 in 5) compared to their male counterparts (1 in 4). Younger women were more likely to have suffered from poor mental health in the past six months.

Workforce management

Qualtrics’ report outlining its predictions for workplaces in 2023 was compiled from a worldwide survey of 29,000 employees.

Unsurprisingly, given the cost-of-living crisis that’s ongoing in a lot of countries, pay is a major concern, as is the need for a positive workplace culture.

Qualtrics’ report indicates that workers are tired of inefficient work practices, meaning employers will have to address these management issues to avoid staff suffering burnout and disillusionment with their jobs.

Meanwhile, tech advisory and investment firm GP Bullhound predicts in its trends report for 2023 that integrated workforce management platforms are set to be a major talking point. They are as good as any method of managing a hybrid workforce and keeping all workers engaged no matter where they are.

As businesses contend with budget cutbacks, and employees battle with the cost-of-living increases and the ongoing adjustment to different working practices since the pandemic, bosses are advised to tread carefully and not overwork staff or take their efforts for granted.

New technologies

2023 could be the year the masses finally grow to accept the metaverse as part of their working lives according to tech and business research company Forrester.

Forrester’s predictions for the coming year draw on the fact that Microsoft is adding 3D mesh components directly into Teams, which will allow users to navigate virtual spaces in three dimensions.

VR can be used for collaborative whiteboarding as well as clowning around with cute avatars, which might not be for everyone.

As well as Microsoft, Forrester expects at least three more major providers of collaboration technologies — such as Zoom, Slack and Webex — to add 3D metaverse-style features, reaching tens of millions of potential users.

AI is going to be another big topic of conversation in 2023, continuing on from the debates we’ve been seeing around ethical AI practices and the tech’s role in recruitment and workplace automation.

Employment market

As already touched on in the section about wellbeing, workers are worried about the cost of living. Added to this is the housing crisis, which is a major worry for everyone in Ireland – employers and employees alike.

According to the 2023 Salary Guide report from Recruiters.ie, 51pc of more than 6,000 business leaders surveyed said that the lack of housing options for their staff in Ireland would impact their hiring plans for the coming year.

Employers seem to be less concerned about inflation rates, however, with 62pc saying inflation would have no impact on their 2023 hiring plans.

More than half (55pc) said they were cautiously optimistic about the Irish economy over the coming year. But, as Laya Healthcare’s report showed, workers do not necessarily share this optimism.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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