We’re less than a month out from a new year, and some uncertainty is on the horizon. This year has been tumultuous with companies pivoting their strategy, decreasing headcount and freezing hiring. 

From our conversation at HR Therapy LIVE, one clear theme is emerging for 2023: retention. How can companies retain their top talent and keep them engaged despite somewhat bleak times? 

Everyone is dying to know!

At HR Therapy we focused on 3 initiatives that I predicted would be important in 2023: 

  • Manager and Leader Effectiveness
  • Org Building
  • Career Development

Spoiler alert: all 3 of these contribute to retention. 

We’ve come full circle! 

#1: Manager and Leader Effectiveness

What the workforce needs from managers and leaders are evolving. Especially in this time of uncertainty, employees will look to their managers to have all the answers. But most won’t. 

Being a manager is so freaking hard because so much is expected from you. While that can be overwhelming, a great manager can have a huge impact. 

Like we remember the trash managers we also idolize our great ones. 

A great manager:

  • Is motivational 
  • Understands your working style 
  • Sparks initiation and action 
  • Collaborates with their team and stakeholders 
  • Has a thought process for strategic decision making 

But great managers are not born overnight. That’s where HR/People teams can come in and have a huge impact on their organization. 

I’m still the same woman standing in front of corporate America screaming to train its managers. New year, still relevant. 

To help managers be more effective, HR/People teams should:

  • Build a manager curriculum for 2023 and set expectations of a monthly commitment to training 
  • Create a culture of coaching (5 types of coaching conversations)
  • Define career paths outside just promoting employees to manager because they are all-stars
  • Hold your managers accountable for their actions 

My last note: being a manager should be an honor that is earned. If you have a manager that is creating a nightmare environment for your employees, take away their management duties. Not everyone gets to be a manager! Sorry, not sorry. Your employees will trust you more for making that decision. Just sayin’

#2: Org Building

We’ve seen organizations and entire teams decimated in the several layoffs that have occurred this year. 

2023 will be what we call a rebuilding year. I hope organizations will spend some time reflecting on how 2022 went and how to avoid the same mistakes when it comes to rapidly growing and scaling organizations. 


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Personally, I hate how rapid scaling is glamorized because oftentimes there’s no plan in place. I have this theory that most companies aren’t great at planning.

If there is no plan in place how will your HR/People team hire, onboard, and retain folks? 

COUGH they won’t be able to COUGH 

In 2023 it will be imperative that companies set goals accordingly and have a strong headcount planning process that is agile. 

Why does headcount planning seem to be the bane of everyone’s existence? Uhh because we’re not good planners! I already said that. 

But the other problem? HR/People teams aren’t always trusted to make headcount decisions. Kinda wild right?

I have endless examples of executives demanding roles that are critically important and the HR team disagreeing with the additional headcount because the team was already the appropriate size. Only for the executive to eventually win.

Ever been there? Because, same. 

In 2023 it will be crucial to have a strong and transparent headcount planning process. The ideal process will:

  • Trust HR/People leaders with headcount planning 
  • Empower HR/People leaders to make decisions
  • Outline who can veto a decision 
  • Allow for pivoting in the event something major changes 

Org design has an impact on retention because a properly built organization will have room for growth and movement for your employees. 

#3: Career Development

Your employees want to develop and grow but few know how to at your organization. Career development will be a huge focus in 2023. Organizations that have been decimated in 2022 will look to retain their top talent in 2023. 

What better way to do that than show your employees how the organization is investing in their career and development?

A 3-step framework HR/People teams can share with managers to use for career development:

  1. Align expectations around current role: managers and direct report reflect separately about the purpose of the role and come together to share. 
  2. Define big picture career aspirations: direct report shares their big picture aspirations 
  3. Craft a development plan: put in writing how to achieve that big picture aspiration  

Pro-tip: Don’t try to cram this all into one conversation each step could be 1-3 conversations!

Managers should be trained on these types of conversations and set up to use this framework! 

Employees will leave if they don’t feel like their career is growing…

Hebba Youssef
Hebba Youssef

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