As we enter 2023, planning for the year ahead has never been more important. The UK’s employment climate remains volatile due to several significant domestic and global influences.
These include the rebuilding after the pandemic, a change in Government, the war in Ukraine, a cost-of-living crisis, a recession as well as potential new employment legislation. Together, all these major influences have had a direct impact on employment in some way.
The next few months are crucial for businesses, especially leading up to setting their budgets for the 2023/2024 financial year.
First, a HR strategy is key to delivering on business goals. Employers need their employees to fulfil their potential to maximise their contribution and therefore creating a profitable business.
At a time of unprecedented uncertainty and significant economic conditions, having a HR strategy and creating a people plan aligned to the business strategy will be key for driving forward the business.
If your business doesn’t already have a HR strategy and people plan, now is the time to develop one. If you do have one, then it would be beneficial to carry out a review of it, to ensure it remains relevant and re-prioritise or adjust timescales where necessary to take account of the latest social and economic conditions.
Workforce planning/Organisational structure
Heading into 2023, workforce planning is fundamental for how a business responds in a recession. It is a process in which you look at the resources you have now and what is needed in the future to be able to deliver on the business objectives.
Where gaps are identified, it is about understanding how these can be filled; or where is too much resource, or if the resource is not in the right areas, it is looking at whether the organisational structure remains fit for purpose.
Workforce planning can identify a business need to restructure or consider other measures such as succession planning, training and development or the use of third-party providers to fulfil resource requirements.
It is perhaps obvious that at a time of recession, that cost cutting becomes priority. However, there can be a fine line as to which area of spend you put a freeze on costs.
For example, you may initially think that training costs should be frozen; but have you considered that investment in training and development may help the business to grow and become more productive? Or you may assume that putting a recruitment freeze on all roles is necessary, but is there a particular role that is vacant that is essential that you have filled?
With the cost-of-living crisis, a recession and job certainty waning, employers are wise to focus on employee wellbeing not only to support employee engagement, but to limit cases of mental health.
Mental health not only leads to high absenteeism, but for those who try to deal with it whilst working, it can lead to performance issues.
Offering support either through offering an Employee Assistance Programme, having in place Mental Health First Aiders or looking at financial measures such as one-off discretionary bonuses to help with spiralling costs, are just some ways to support employees at this challenging time.
We offer Level 2 Mental Health First Aid training which you sign up for here.
Flexibility and hybrid working
Flexible working, including ‘hybrid working’ – the blended approach between traditional working from home and office-based working, brings many benefits to an organisation. At a time when businesses continue to re-build post COVID-19, respond to a challenging recruitment market and now in responding to a recession, it is more important than ever to demonstrate flexibility.
We know from years of research, that flexible working can lead to increased morale and employee engagement, aid employee retention, improve productivity, improve the ability to recruit the best talent, as well as provide greater diversity and inclusion.
It can though, bring many benefits to the employee, one of which is to save on commute costs. It may be that offering a form of flexible working can help employees on the costs associated with getting to/from work.
Finding out how engaged your workforce is and in what areas can help the business to put targeted initiatives in place to make improvements. Some areas in which you can understanding how engaged your workforce are, could be to enquire how employees feel about their leaders, managers, and colleagues.
Whether they believe that the organisation offers opportunities for personal growth as well as satisfaction levels with pay and benefits.
Employees need to clearly understand their job roles and how they fit into the overall structure and therefore how their contribution impacts the rest of the organisation. They have a desire to be properly trained, be given credit for good performance, and be given encouragement to do even better.
There are many employment Bills in the pipeline such as neonatal leave and pay, carers leave, dismissal and re-engagement, and tips to workers for example. These have been in the pipeline for several years, but due to the pandemic, much of Parliament’s business of the last two years have been severely impacted.
These Bills do remain in the pipeline along with a recently new published Bill called the Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill. Which if passed, would result in a significant overhaul of UK employment law because it repeals all existing EU legislation that many of our domestic UK law is based upon.
This includes legislation such as the Working Time Regulations, TUPE, Part Time Worker Regulations as well as UK GDPR will be impacted.
As we begin 2023, we reflect on the challenges businesses have faced during 2022 and consider what can be done to plan for the year ahead in 2023.
We look at some key employment tribunal rulings and what these mean for employers, as well as what employment legislation is on the horizon.
If you would like to watch this webinar on demand, you can do so here.