Building better businesses from the lessons of 2023

by Rob Sheppard

[Approx 3 min read]

In Australia, workforce management for SMEs has witnessed a transformative [perhaps even ‘seismic’] shift in both legislation and the way office and technology-based roles now work.

Looking back at our articles over the year, it was evident that the journey to this transformation has been marked by both significant changes and opportunities to grow.

Here is a snapshot of just some of the year as we saw it:

The flexible [hybrid] work revolution

I doubt anyone will argue that the revolution in hybrid working significantly reshaped the landscape for office workers – becoming a driving force in defining the working conditions for numerous individuals and businesses.

Among the post-COVID transformations, this shift stood out as one of the most influential and dynamic changes in recent memories (in so much as the bulk of employers had to consider it for their teams). What might have taken decades for businesses to adopt naturally, was realised within a mere 2 years.

fully remote work will gradually make room for a more nuanced hybrid approach

Read more HERE

Having said that, we are seeing a growing trend in the number of businesses bringing workers back into the office (for whatever reason). This means the Covid driven era of fully remote work will gradually make room for and reinforce a more nuanced hybrid model of work.

Navigating this future still poses challenges for businesses in 2024, requiring policies and practices to help integrate hybrid life into the business while ensuring organisational goals are still met.

The power of Purpose on business culture

Anyone who has heard me speak knows I draw a great deal of inspiration from Jim Collins.

Over the year, we explored how a clearly defined Purpose could be the catalyst for shaping business culture.

We emphasised that a clear sense of Purpose not only contributes to heightened employee engagement but also becomes a cornerstone for organisational success in general.

When further integrated into policies, processes and the daily life of a leader, Purpose becomes a powerful and fundamental building block to both the employee and business lifecycles and experience.

The Super Skills of a leader

We also saw the need for people managers and leaders to develop ‘Super Skills’ – especially given the increasing role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace.

As AI continues its trend in assuming various tasks and functions traditionally handled by humans, the demand for robust interpersonal skills becomes even more crucial. This is especially true for the leaders of teams worried about turnover, attracting talent or simply avoiding the pitfalls of poorly handled crucial conversations.

‘Super Skills’ gained greater significance with the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace

Read more HERE

We pinpointed that these ‘soft people skills’ should be a foundational element for effective leadership in the evolving landscape of 2024.

A regulatory focus on wage theft

Many SMEs grapple with correctly applying award conditions – with even some of the biggest corporations inadvertently falling foul of these in recent times.

With the imminent crackdown by industrial regulators on wage theft (including changes to the payment of superannuation), we expect this to be front and centre in 2024.

Given social media, mainstream media and the unions are all educating workforces on these legislative changes [current and about to be introduced], business owners cannot afford to drag their feet.

Honourable mentions

Recruiting in a tight labour market

2023 was a tight labour market in anyone’s book – and this underscored the need for improved recruitment practices and employee value propositions.

Looking ahead, businesses can anticipate a softening labour market in 2024 however, employers should still continue to refine recruitment strategies to navigate the ongoing flexible / hybrid work revolution and attract the *right* talent.

refine recruitment strategies to navigate the ongoing flexible / hybrid work revolution and attract the right talent.

Read more HERE
Tracking Productivity

As the workplace transformed before our eyes in 2023, successful businesses adopted better ways of working remotely using electronic systems.

The key to success was not in the implementing but rather, in managing and *measuring* productivity gains from teams.

My final #robservation…

The past 11 months has been a journey of adaptation and growth.

As Hr consultants, we know it is crucial to carry forward the lessons learned while anticipating and embracing the new legislative changes that will shape the coming year.

In doing so, Hr professionals and business owners alike can lead their organisations into a future that is not just compliant but is also thriving in the face of future change.

And if it’s all still confusing?