8 workforce trends influencing 2023

This year has been a tumultuous one for the workforce as layoffs rise and the economy wavers. These eight trends help paint the picture of the current labor force: one that values flexibility as companies tug it back, and grapples with the merging of new and old values. 

1. Self-set hours: Remote and hybrid workplaces are here to stay, regardless of employer preferences. Ten percent of workers told McKinsey they would likely quit their job if it required them to come into the office every day; they would even be willing to take a substantial pay cut for the option to work remotely. Top talent also covets working from home, with 44 percent of  senior-level respondents and 50 percent of midlevel respondents indicating a strong preference for remote work. 

But remote work has led to an afternoon dead zone, according to recent data from Microsoft. Employees tend to log off between 4 and 6 p.m. — using that time to pick up kids, hit the golf course or beat dinner crowds — then wrap up work around 10 p.m. 

2. "Quiet quitting": The term first made headlines in 2022, referring to workers' refusal to work above their pay grade. This tendency toward the bare minimum has persisted into 2023; 60 percent of the global workforce is quiet quitting, according to a recent Gallup poll.  

Some jobs are better suited for quiet quitting than others, according to TikTok. Enter "lazy girl jobs": those that require minimum effort but provide comfortable salaries. These positions allow for less workplace stress and better work-life balance, according to the Generation Z members coining and embracing the phrase.  

3. "The Big Stay": Workers had leverage over employers at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as talent was more difficult to find and retain. Now, in many industries, the hand has switched: "The Great Resignation" might be giving way to "The Big Stay."

The uncertain economy and rise in high-profile layoffs has encouraged workers to stay put, according to LinkedIn data. In May, job transitions were down 34.3 percent from the previous year, indicating an increased preference for job security. 

4. A changing demographic: The workforce's makeup is shifting, and it may demand workplaces shift with it. Although young workers are disappearing from the labor market, the number of older workers is on the rise: more than one-fourth of the American workforce will be older than 55 by 2031, according to a recent analysis from Bain & Co. These workers tend to feel more loyal to their employers and prefer interesting work over high compensation. 

Additionally, more women have joined the labor force than ever. Flexible work offerings have allowed those with caregiving responsibilities to partake in higher numbers — plus, higher wages driven by the workforce shortage were a likely draw. 

5. Optimism: In most industries, job-based optimism is down. Healthcare is an exception. A recent survey from Morning Consult found that 58 percent of healthcare workers feel optimistic about the industry's future — a decent springback after three difficult years of COVID-19. 

Healthcare workers are also optimistic about their ability to find and hold a job. They sport the highest job confidence across all industries, gaining three points in job-based optimism over the past five months, according to LinkedIn data. 

6. "Mandatory Mondays": Although remote work remains valuable, many leaders still prefer in-office collaboration. Eighty-seven percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are back in person at least four days a week; nearly three-quarters expect at least three office days a week from employees. 

Many firms are mandating Mondays as their office day; Kastle Systems, which tracks security swipes at offices, found that Monday occupancy has risen nearly one-third in one year. However, Tuesdays remain the most popular day in offices, with 72 percent of companies mandating attendance. 

7. Office etiquette classes: Generation Z missed out on years of in-person professional development during the pandemic. Now that Gen Zers are entering the workforce, the skill gaps have become apparent — and companies aim to fill them. 

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, hosts an etiquette dinner for students before they graduate, giving advice such as "eat at senior leaders' pace" and "put butter on your plate before your roll." Warner Bros. Discovery gives interns a presentation on office dynamics, including dress codes and interpersonal relations. And at accounting firm KPMG, new hires get trained to handle conflict within teams and introduce themselves to clients and colleagues; many of them are stiff, speak too quickly or rely on filler words such as "um," according to the firm. 

8. "The Great Inheritance": Baby boomers are poised to pass down $16 trillion in the next decade and $84 trillion through 2045. That financial cushion could influence millennial and Gen Z workers' choices. 

For example, younger workers are more likely to quit their jobs and be less enthusiastic about in-office labor than their older counterparts.They also find it more important to take jobs for the betterment of society, even if those roles are lower paying. 

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