Happy New Year! Now that all the hoopla has ended from the holidays and it’s back to business as usual, many HR professionals are wondering what “the usual” will be in 2023. Since we aren’t fortune tellers with crystal balls, we look to industry experts for predictions.
Upfront funding of education benefits
As industry needs evolve and new demands from talent arise, employers are adjusting by creating a more holistic experience for employees when it comes to learning opportunities and providing support. With this evolution, one trend to keep an eye on in 2023 is the transition from tuition reimbursement policies to upfront funding of employee education benefits – i.e., employees never have to put a learning program on their own credit card or take on other debt to fund education. It’s instead provided upfront by the employer, as a benefit, at no cost to the employee.
“Continued learning programs have gained a lot of traction, and moving it from a reimbursement policy to an employee benefit can better fit the needs, pace and lifestyle of today’s workforce,” says Schilling. “Offering it as a benefit can also help increase participation.”
In fact, less than 10% of workers employed by organizations that provide tuition reimbursement use these offerings annually, partly because few have the funds to pay for it, according to estimates by Willis Towers Watson. By funding education upfront, employers can make access to these programs and benefits more equitable. This can be a valuable means to the end of a more diverse talent pool and pipeline.
Driving engagement with upskilling opportunities
Ever since the onset of the pandemic, many industries have witnessed the redirection toward remote-first work and have had to adjust workplace processes to align with these changes. This shift has enabled more companies to open their doors to candidates who may not be near the organization’s brick-and-mortar office and are looking to work remotely. However, the need to engage workers whether they are remote or in-office is crucial, as low engagement costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.
With themes like Quiet Quitting dominating the news, organizations in 2022 focused on employee satisfaction and engagement. But there is still more to do. According to Emeritus’ 2022 Global Career Impact Survey, 89% of Emeritus learners responded that they feel more engaged at work if they are learning new concepts and skills. Furthermore, a study from Gallup that was commissioned by Amazon found that 48% of American workers would make the move to a new job if opportunities for skills training were offered.
“In 2023, we expect organizations to double down on extending education benefits and learning opportunities as a way to retain talent for two primary reasons,” says Schilling. “First, this gives employees a connection to the company and their peers in the programs, and builds loyalty. Second, these learning programs help employees advance on their own career paths.”
Prioritizing skills over degrees
There has been a movement to remove degree requirements from job descriptions and instead hire based on demonstrated skills. In fact, according to a report from The Burning Glass Institute and the Harvard Business School, between 2017 and 2019, employers reduced degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill positions and 31% of high-skill positions. This trend has only continued to unfold, as there continues to be a decrease in U.S. job postings requiring at least a bachelor’s degree, from 46% at the beginning of 2019 to 41% in November 2022.
“In 2023, redirecting the hiring focus from degrees to skills will also mean organizations need to look internally at their own training and upskilling offerings to drive existing employees’ growth,” states Schilling. “With this new hiring perspective and growing emphasis on skills over degrees, organizations will further alter their hiring processes to better fit the future workforce.”
Filling in skills gap with education benefits
“Heading into 2023, there will be a heightened focus on how organizations can efficiently and proactively make sure they have the right people with the right skills to meet their organization’s bottom line,” says Schilling. “Providing upskilling and educational opportunities to employees so they gain the skills necessary to grow in their roles helps to create more alignment among employers and employees on what will move an organization forward to meet its goals.”
As found in Emeritus’ 2022 Global Career Impact Survey, 77% of respondents agreed that their program helped address gaps in knowledge needed for their job, and 72% agreed that their program prepared them for current demands in their field. With the possibility of more than 85 million jobs being left unfilled by 2030, the need for new skill sets signals a demand to invest in employees for the long run or risk having skills gaps, i.e., a workforce without the necessary skills to meet the demands of a business.
“Upskilling and educational offerings are what will enable employers to successfully invest in their people, their company and the future workforce, especially during times of uncertainty,” says Schilling.