17th January 2023

Business Matters: 5 People Matters That Should Be On Your Radar For 2023

As we settle into 2023, businesses should be reviewing their priorities for the year ahead. Deborah Jones, lead HR consultant at EST, suggests some key areas for businesses to focus on.

1. Stabilising working practices

It’s fair to say that the last few years have brought about unprecedented changes in working practices and we are now seeing an element of ‘change fatigue’, which may lead to resistance to further change from employees.

2023 is the time to embed changes already made and regulate working practices around hybrid working and for renewed focus on achieving business goals. The start of the year can be a good time to reiterate HR policies and procedures to the team, but unnecessary changes should be avoided.

2. Recruitment

As the recruitment crisis rolls on, skills retention is an ongoing priority to ensure organisational stability and future growth alongside attracting new talent. Employers should ensure that they are ‘recruitment ready’ in terms of HR compliance so that they are best placed for any recruitment drives.

A review of employee benefits packages may be needed as part of a wider benchmarking activity to ensure that the organisation is best placed in the market to attract the best employees.

3. Cost of Living Crisis

The rising cost of living is a real concern for many employees, and it is important that businesses consider ways to support people through the cost-of-living crisis. There are a range of ways that employers can provide practical support:

Health Cash-Back Schemes

These provide help with some of the key areas that employees are struggling with on a day-to-day basis such as dental and optical costs.

Employee Perks/Vouchers

These provide access to retail discounts, which are useful given the increase in household bills.

Employee Assistance Programmes

These provide access to an advice line and counselling that can assist employees facing personal challenges, including financial wellbeing.

Pay Review

Employers may consider carrying out a pay review. The Living Wage Foundation has introduced the highest rise to the real Living Wage in its 11-year history in response to the cost-of-living rises. Employers are advised to implement any pay rises as soon as possible but by the latest May 2023.

Cost of Living Bonus

Rather than a pay rise, some employers may prefer to offer a one-off bonus to its workforce. This can offer a welcome boost at the start the New Year however employers should be sensitive to any employees who may claim benefits as a bonus payment could interfere with this.

4. Leadership and Management Development

The new year is a great time to assess your leadership and management capability in your organisation with a particular focus on employee engagement, well-being and retention.

It is evident that employee expectations have shifted enormously post-pandemic with an emphasis on hybrid and flexible working, greater opportunities for learning and development and career progression. To accommodate the shift, leaders and managers may need support in developing core competencies and skills, particularly when faced with the challenge of the modern workplace.

Equipping managers with the soft skills to manage remotely is key to developing capability in this context. The skills and approach required is vastly different to traditional management approach and this should be carefully assessed via a training needs analysis to sit in line with hybrid working policies.

Alongside bespoke training we recommend a core and consistent approach to developing leadership and management capability.

5. Awareness of Upcoming Legal Changes

The Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill

This was introduced in Parliament on 20 October 2022 and is expected to come into force in 2023. If enacted, it would require employers and trade unions to agree a minimum service level during transport strikes over a three-month period, ensuring that specified transport services – which could include, for example, rail, tubes and buses – will not completely shut down when unions impose strikes. This bill will balance the right to strike with ensuring commuters can get to their place of work and people can continue to make vital journeys to access education and healthcare during strikes.

New ICO Guidance

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published draft guidance on two important topics relevant to employers: processing information about the health of workers, and monitoring people while at work. Both are the subject of public consultation until January 2023.

New government resource for employers to help employees with health and disability

The government has launched a new online service which will give employers the tools they need to empower and encourage disabled employees and those with health conditions. It has the aim of creating more inclusive work environments and equipping employers with advice on how people from all backgrounds can thrive at work and grow the economy. There is currently in an early test version of the Support with Employee Health and Disability service and any employer can access the service, which provides free advice on how to manage staff who may be in or out of work with a disability or long-term health condition in a user-friendly online Q&A format.

How can our EST HR team help?

We offer remote assistance HR retainers to provide practical advice and innovative support so that people flourish, and businesses thrive. We can also deliver HR projects such as a benefits review or design of recruitment processes.

EST HR offer management training, including a Competent Leadership Programme that offers a highly interactive and practical approach focusing on the following areas:

  • The Competent Manager
  • Implementing and Managing Change
  • Working Under Pressure and Developing Resilience
  • Managing Individual and Team Performance
  • Team Retention, Motivation and Development
  • Dealing With Conflict and Having Difficult Conversations

Please contact our HR Team if you would like more information about this or any other support in respect of HR or organisational and management development at 02921 303888 or

EST is multi-service professional practice offering HR Consultancy, Accountancy and Tax Advice, Wealth Management and Commercial Finance.