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Since 2020, terms such as ‘working from home’ and ‘The Great Resignation’ have become common...
Since 2020, terms such as ‘working from home’ and ‘The Great Resignation’ have become common phrases in our everyday language. Now that we’ve entered 2023, we no longer want to harp on about the pandemic, but the reality is it completely altered the working world and left many of us with whiplash!
Over the last three years, in general, both workers and employers have had to learn to become more adaptable to socioeconomic shifts. Even just thinking about last year, 2022 was a rollercoaster of a ride in the ever-evolving workplace.
For employees, the fear of inflation, a looming recession, and the possibility of redundancy has been weighing heavy. As such, more workers are asking for salary raises and promotions and are looking deeper at their options for more lucrative positions elsewhere.
For Life Sciences specifically, workers continue to have leverage in a tight job market, so recruitment and retention activities are taking centre stage for employers looking at the year ahead.
We’re considering 2023 the ‘readjustment phase’, and that essentially means more employers are incorporating pandemic-learned behaviours and activities into a post-pandemic working world.
So, as younger generations join the workforce, current workers move into more senior positions, and values shift, what workplace trends should we expect to see throughout the next 12 months?
As I’m sure you know by now, the number of available Life Sciences jobs currently far outweighs the number of available talent. One of the issues contributing to the labour shortage is a skills gap that must be narrowed, especially as the industry always has to contend with strict regulations.
The discourse surrounding upskilling our current teams picked up steam throughout 2022, with the likes of Sanofi, Pfizer, Certara, and Thermo Fisher tackling hiring challenges with upskilling programs. Not only does this recognise employees’ desires for continuous learning and offer them the tools to train and develop, it also helps fill existing roles and meet customer and patient needs.
The current economic climate means that a broader focus on upskilling opportunities will become a leading strategy throughout the Life Sciences world in 2023 in order to attract new team members and retain current staff.
As a result, we expect to see a rise in unique Learning and Development programs, demonstrating the desire to drive employee growth and encourage a culture of upskilling. Not only does this benefit employees by increasing their proficiencies, but companies will also reap the rewards by remaining relevant in an ever-competitive market.
After all, the continued success of the Life Sciences sector depends on the skills of the workforce, so investing in Learning and Development will only help attract, develop and retain the very best global Life Sciences talent.
On top of upskilling, developing soft skills (critical thinking, problem-solving, growth mindset, adaptability, emotional intelligence, resilience, time management, decision-making, collaboration, and creativity) is invaluable in the world of Life Sciences.
For the most part, they’re the type of skills that set leaders apart. Throughout 2023, we also expect employees and job seekers to focus on these types of skills to progress in their roles and increase their value within the workforce.
Flexible working environments have never been more popular than they are right now. In fact, ever since the pandemic normalised remote work, there’s been a huge conversation surrounding how it has improved many workers’ quality of life. That means that nowadays, employees expect some level of flexibility from their employers, allowing them to work from an environment that suits them best, have autonomy over their working hours, and ultimately support their work-life balance.
Aside from jobs that need to be onsite, such as those needed in laboratories, many Life Sciences roles can be done remotely. On the whole, most Life Sciences businesses have settled on a hybrid approach, allowing employees the freedom and independence of remote work while also providing the option for in-person facetime and collaboration.
In a survey conducted by McKinsey, an enormous 87% of employees who are offered flexible work options spend, on average, three days a week working from home. What’s more, Deloitte found that productivity and engagement are at their highest amongst workers who spend 60-80% of their time working remotely.
With statistics such as these, along with the focus on employee wellbeing, we can only expect that flexible working options will continue to be favoured throughout 2023 to help attain and retain talent. That also includes flexi-hours to allow employees to fit their work schedule around parenting responsibilities, educational opportunities, and other commitments.
But on top of flexi-working, another trend that gained momentum in 2022 was four-day working weeks, with countries such as the UK, Belgium, Sweden, and Iceland trialling the endeavour. The aim is that employees will be expected to maintain the same workload for the same salary but cut down on non-productive activities.
From the positive results, a massive 86% of businesses in the UK said they’re ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to continue adopting the policy permanently. From that, we can expect that in 2023 more employers will rethink the benefits of a conventional nine-to-five Monday-to-Friday working week and examine options that could be better suited to their workforce without comprising output.
Throughout 2022, we saw several states in the US, including New York, Colorado, and California, pass laws on pay transparency, requiring employers to state salaries in their job descriptions. The aim is to address wage gaps and tackle wage discrimination, which has plagued employment for decades.
In Life Sciences specifically, research has found that even as recent as 2022, 95.7% of pharmaceutical companies with a headcount above 250 pay their male employees higher than their female counterparts. The same study also found that the average hourly wage was 10% higher for males than females across the pharmaceutical sector.
Of course, pay transparency benefits employees by providing greater clarity and communication on how their efforts are rewarded and how their role contributes to the business’s success, but it has its perks for employers too.
That’s because having open and honest conversations attracts only the very best talent and means applicants can ensure that the qualifications and compensation packages offered suit their wants and needs and can sort accordingly.
Overall, pay transparency is forcing companies to think more about their offering, and providing a respectable salary range only reflects positively on a company’s brand, helping build an optimistic sentiment among applicants as well as current employees.
Over the last few years, conversations surrounding mental health and wellness have become much more candid, both inside and outside the workplace. As a result, many Life Sciences organisations now provide workers with wellness perks such as access to employee assistance programmes, meditation software, and psychological software.
With the World Health Organisation reporting that around one billion people worldwide suffer from a mental health disorder, this level of progress in the workplace is significant in encouraging employees to be open about their mental health struggles.
However, now, with economists predicting a recession on the horizon, employees have a whole new set of fears that can negatively affect their emotional wellbeing. In fact, one report has found that 88% of Learning and Development professionals are concerned about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting their employees.
Luckily, more than ever before, employers are viewing the mental wellbeing of their employees as a top priority, especially given that burnout is one of the top reasons why employees leave their jobs. But even though employers are ramping up efforts to support their teams’ mental health, a shortage of mental health providers means that companies are struggling to find valuable resources for their workforce.
Toward the end of 2022, we saw Lyra Health provide mental health benefits to employees and expand access to mental healthcare in the workplace. They’ve begun new services to support employers at an organisational level, offering data insights, workplace advisory services, and a multi-modal approach to learning to increase mental health literacy.
With employers investing in their workers’ mental health and employees expecting their wellbeing remains a priority, we can only expect more initiatives to come to light in 2023. This will include Life Sciences businesses partnering with mental health services to roll out better mental healthcare for their teams.
The magic of social media platforms like TikTok saw the idea of ‘quiet quitting’ go viral in 2022 as the cost of living grew, inflation skyrocketed, and workers shouldered increasingly heavy workloads. The theory is that rather than quitting their jobs, workers would simply do the bare minimum.
Employees would clock in at nine, finish bang on five, take a full hour for lunch, withdraw from their teams, limit communication, and stop going above and beyond. Essentially, ‘quiet quitting’ is the antidote to ‘hustle culture’.
While no one can deny the global virality’ quiet quitting’ brought, Life Sciences is different in that workers continue to hold leverage in the job market and are able to negotiate better benefits, higher salaries, and flexibility. Overall, research shows that employees don’t want to work less; they want opportunities to grow, take on more responsibilities, learn new skills, and be heard by their employers.
When looking at 2023, the talk surrounding’ quiet quitting’ has helped employers recognise that they’re asking their teams to do more than they’re being compensated for. Hopefully, this will result in businesses looking more closely at what they can do to help their workers thrive.
After all, the top three things workers are hoping for in 2023 are a stronger focus on employee wellbeing (47%), more transparency (46%), and more team-building activities to improve collaboration (38%).
Along with the widespread agreement of remote working conditions, with the help of new technology, more and more businesses are implementing tools to measure employee productivity and understand how workers use their time.
In fact, one survey found that 60% of companies with remote workers are already using employee monitoring software to track workers’ activity, and another 17% are considering it.
Nowadays, more organisations have more geographically distributed workforces, which means we expect developments in monitoring employee output and standards. Still, businesses must be careful not to infringe on workers’ privacy and personal freedoms.
On the topic of technological advancements, another trend that will progress and be felt in many businesses in 2023 is the presence of the Metaverse - particularly with the company (previously Facebook) betting big on its new Horizon platform, including Horizon Workrooms which is an online working environment.
This one seems to be gaining more popularity among workers too, as it allows for increasingly immersive collaborative environments, which can be hard to come by for remote teams. Zoom, who gained stratospheric user growth throughout the pandemic, is also rolling out new functionalities, such as meeting rooms and whiteboards, which will promote them from being a simple communication tool to a fully collaborative working platform.
While we’re all about collaboration, we’re still unsure what to make of some of these tech-focused trends, but we expect that aspects of the Metaverse will play an increasingly prominent role throughout 2023. What are your thoughts?