Effective Management

Top employee trends in 2023 & how managers can support

Effective Management
May 16, 2023
5 min read

Over the past few years, business leaders have had to face challenges unlike ever before. Remote work, high turnover, an exhausted workforce, a looming recession, a major shift in the competitive landscape to name just a few. All of these things are having a lasting impact on the future of work. Because of the rapid and significant changes, employers are forced to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. 

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the top 4 trends of 2023 and what you can do as a manager to support.

1. Employee Well Being

The World Health Organization considers employment and working life conditions to be “social determinants of health” – factors that influence our physical and mental health at a deep level. 

Because the nature of how and where we work has shifted so much, work and life are increasingly blended together. This means that now is the time to change the way we, as managers, think about our team members’ well being. Keep in mind that work can impact many aspects of an individual’s well-being, including their physical, mental, social, and financial health, as well as their sense of purpose and ability to grow.

Organizations have a lot more power than they might realize when it comes to creating environments that support people. A study by Deloitte points out that creating these environments starts with mindset shifts from “legacy” thinking to “forward” thinking when it comes to well-being. Legacy thinking involves putting the onus on the individual for creating their own sense of well-being, and that the responsibility doesn’t fall on the organization’s shoulders if it provides basic benefits and wellness perks. Forward thinking on this subject involves seeing work as a determinant of well-being. Meaning that organizations are accountable for designing work that enables individuals to live a healthy and happy life. See the figure below from Deloitte which outlines the two ways of thinking:

Deloitte’s research shows that “leaders cannot rely on perks and programs alone, which often come at a high cost”. In fact, more than two-thirds (68%) of workers surveyed said they did not use the full value of the well-being resources their organizations offered because accessing programs was either too time-consuming, confusing, or cumbersome.” Instead of throwing money at the problem, start with the places that will drive the most improvement for employees. Studies show that people leaders are the stewards of well-being. In fact, new research shows that managers have a greater influence on employee mental health than therapists. 

The way organizations are offering support today isn’t working for employees. 84% of employees say that at least one workplace factor negatively impacted their mental health (Mind Share Partners). The top factors negatively impacting mental health include emotionally draining work, challenges with work-life balance, and a lack of recognition. 

The impact that mental health is having on productivity continues to grow. On average, employees are performing at 72% of their full capability once factoring in their mental health, with younger workers being impacted most heavily.

The most common obstacle to self-care was leaders not promoting mental health at work. A study done by the APA shows that “81% of workers reported that they will be looking for workplaces that support mental health in the future.” When employees feel supported by their employer with mental health, they are 2.5x more likely to stay at the company for 2+ years and 5.6x more likely to trust its leaders. 

A few examples of how to promote well-being at work:

  1. Build Psychological Safety

Psychological safety, defined as team members feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other, is the single biggest predictor of team effectiveness (Google). Leaders can support the creation of safe spaces by normalizing speaking up, actively listening, and showing that their teams’ opinions count. 

  1. Create Supportive Relationships

Employees whose manager is consistently willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out (Gallup). The best leaders demonstrate that they care by investing in employees through awareness, time and attention.

  1. Mitigate Burnout

77% of employees have experienced burnout at their current job (Deloitte) and 1 in 4 employees report struggling with performance on a weekly basis due to stress, anxiety, and performance pressure at work (BetterUp). Leaders can address burnout by regularly checking-in on their team’s workload, setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, and providing regular recognition for their team’s contributions. Employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are about 70% less likely to experience burnout regularly, indicating the important role that leaders play in setting the tone (Gallup). 

  1. Provide Autonomy

Managers who motivate their employees with autonomy provide them a sense of control and ownership over their actions. Leaders can achieve this by setting clear goals and objectives and allowing room for creativity, while being flexible with regards to how the job gets done.

2. Redefining a hybrid work model

Three years into the pandemic, many leaders are still worried that remote or hybrid work is eroding their organizational culture. 85% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that employees are being productive. To some degree, they are not wrong, as a 2022 global study by Gartner found that just 25% of remote or hybrid knowledge workers feel connected to their company’s culture. But many companies have also experienced opposite results by mandating in-office policies.  According to research done by Microsoft, 73% of employees say they need a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations.

Alexia Cambon, a research director in Gartner’s HR practice and a principal author of the study above study says that: “Culture can be evaluated on the basis of two components: alignment (meaning that employees know what the culture is and believe that it is right for the firm) and connect­edness (they identify with and care about the culture).” The study of more than 4,500 knowledge workers and 200 HR leaders showed that in-​office mandates drove connectedness down sharply. Among employees with “radical flexibility” (defined as considerable freedom over location, schedule, work volume, team, and projects), 53% reported a high degree of connectedness, whereas just 18% of those with low flexibility did so (HBR). 

Before COVID, organizations had hoped that connectedness would be created by having people working closely together in an office with a nice layout, good snacks available in the kitchen, and maybe even beer on tap. That theory did not prove true before the pandemic, and now it’s even harder to prove, as workers spend “65% less time in the office”. 

Some ways to combat this lack of connectedness in a hybrid and remote world:

  1. Embed culture in ‘how you work’ not ‘where you work’

Companies should encourage employees to recognize that their value comes from the role they perform rather than their physical location. Sometimes companies place too much of an emphasis on “bums in seats” and that pushes the wrong message.

Leaders should spend more time emphasizing the company’s purpose, vision, values, and goals to help employees feel more connected to the organization, contributing to something bigger than themselves. While 64% of executives said that their employees would be able to name the company’s top three priorities, only 2% of employees were actually able to do so (Sloan Review). This signals a massive disconnect between employees’ day-to-day work and company impact.

  1. Focus on ensuring role clarity 

81% of employees say it’s important that their managers help them prioritize their workload, but less than a third (31%) say their managers have ever provided clear guidance during one-on-ones (Microsoft). To do effective work, employees need clear roles and responsibilities. Leaders should make sure either employees have clear goals, but give flexibility to the employees for how to achieve them while regularly checking in and offering support. Employees who strongly agree that they always have too much to do are 2.2x more likely to say they experience burnout very often or always at work (Gallup).

  1. Prioritize emotional connectedness

Physical proximity means sharing the same space as somebody and being seen. Emotional proximity is a feeling of importance within the group and feeling seen. Because remote employees have less office interactions, each exchange has a much larger impact. But only 21% of millennials and 18% of non-millennials meet with their manager on a weekly basis (Gallup). 

Setting up regular and focused one on ones are a great way to check in. Ensure that one ones are also set up to provide positive feedback- the experience of celebrating small accomplishments sets in motion a positive dynamic that propels the entire team to do better. If you’re struggling to make time for regular one on ones, keep this stat in mind: when a manager neglects their employees and has no regular one-on-one, employees are 4x more likely to be disengaged (HBR).

  1. Foster a culture of peer support

With hybrid work keeping many teams physically separate, peer support is more important than ever. Evidence suggests that prosocial motivation–the desire to have a positive impact on other people–helps employees to take initiative, assist others, persist in meaningful tasks, and accept negative feedback (Research Gate). Prosocial motivation can still be strong even with distributed teams. Solving problems together in the flow of work can go a long way towards feeling more connected with each other.

According to research done by social psychologist Heidi Grant, 75% to 90% of all help coworkers provide to one another is initiated through simply asking (HBR). Helping can be contagious, but getting the ball rolling takes intentionality. A manager asking for support goes a long way towards role modeling the behavior for others. So, be thoughtful about suggesting opportunities for support, both within your team and across the wider organization.

3. Meaningful work

The upheaval of 2020 has prompted leadership teams to reconsider HR priorities, especially when it comes to creating meaningful work, and for good reason. Results of a survey by McKinsey uncovered that “Nearly two-thirds of US-based employees surveyed said that COVID-19 has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. And nearly half said that they are reconsidering the kind of work they do because of the pandemic. Millennials were three times more likely than others to say that they were reevaluating work.”

Organizations need to find ways to deliver purpose to their employees. Creating meaningful work means inspiring teams with a shared purpose and vision. When employees feel their work has meaning, they are motivated to do their best.

So, how do you do it?

We’ve researched the behaviors that managers can put into practice to create meaningful work for their teams. Creating meaningful work is one of the 6 Pillars in our recently published whitepaper “The 6 Pillars of Effective Managers”. You can read more about how to do this by downloading it here

Here are three ways managers can create meaningful work for their employees:

  1. Emphasize the bigger picture

Managers can help their teams see the bigger picture by regularly providing context about the company’s mission, vision, and customers. This helps employees understand the impact their work has, along with external factors that may influence the company's performance and strategy. A survey conducted by Gallup found that employees who strongly agree that their leaders make them feel enthusiastic about the future are 69x more likely to be engaged. One of the other ways to emphasize the bigger picture is to tie the bold vision of the company to a clear set of objectives for the team. When everyone understands what the team is trying to achieve, it becomes easier for them to see how their individual efforts contribute to the bigger picture. Employees who feel that their work makes a tangible difference are much more likely to stay with their company and recommend it to others.

  1. Connect the why to the what

Managers should keep the lines of communication open at all times and continuously communicate with their teammates how their work fuels the company’s growth, providing them with a sense of ownership over the organizational outcomes. Managers should ensure their teams have a clear understanding of how each task or project contributes to the broader mission and vision of the company. This is a key factor in employee motivation, helping them connect the purpose of their work with the company's broader goals and impact.

  1. Recognize contributions

Effective managers understand the importance of recognizing the contributions of their team members. According to a study by WorkHuman, 81% of employees said being recognized makes them feel more committed. In another study, 79% of employees who quit their jobs cited "lack of appreciation" as a key reason for leaving. Managers who take the time to recognize and appreciate the efforts of their employees can expect to see increased engagement, improved job satisfaction, and reduced turnover.

4. Manager Training and Development

Organizations that invest in training and development have teams that are more engaged and satisfied with their work, significantly reducing turnover rates. IBM found that when its employees lacked career support and advancement opportunities, they were 12 times more likely to find work elsewhere. But training and development in 2023 is not one-size-fits all.

Managers today have a lot on their plates, and most feel that they aren’t set up for success. The role of the manager must evolve alongside shifting employee expectations. One-off management training sessions or annual workshops don’t make the cut anymore.

The best organizations recognize that their people, of all ages, are feeling ill-equipped for success in their careers, and will invest in support and training initiatives. Something to keep in mind when thinking about a training and development program is that the approaches that worked in 2019 are not suited to the workforce of 2023. 

To solve for this, most organizations will use either training sessions, or a plug-and-play HR technology platform. For example, they’ll hire a corporate trainer to conduct a yearly or quarterly leadership training session, which can be inspiring and motivating to managers at the outset, but all too often the methods get lost in the shuffle of the day to day. 

Another option is to adopt a digital platform solution where managers can log in and handle their training initiatives and track progress. The main problem with using a platform on its own, is that it lacks the personalized touch of a human coach, and without that, becomes just another task on the manager's growing to-do list. 

Manager training shouldn’t be treated as another check mark on a to-do list—it has to be an integral part of a managers day-to-day. An effective management development program is multi-pronged and occurs in the flow of work. An example of a multi-pronged approach is a people + platform approach, which includes both the personal training element with a digital platform as a way to enrich the leadership training experience and drive sustainable long term impact. To learn more about a people+ platform approach, check out our recent blog post on the subject.


There is no doubt that organizations are facing historic challenges with a competitive landscape, an exhausted workforce, and added pressure to control spend. Leaders must get creative when it comes to attracting talent and keeping their people happy, healthy and fulfilled.

In 2023, organizations need to adopt new mindsets, tools, and processes to keep up with the shifting paradigm of work life. Drumbeat continues to be at the forefront of that change. We’ve built a comprehensive, yet simple and cost-effective Manager Platform for managers to drive world class engagement in the face of the many challenges in today’s dramatically different work reality. 

The platform uniquely supports managers directly with expert coaching and ongoing support, along with digital access to the most effective, science-based ways to connect with and support their teams. If you’d like to learn more, click here to sign up for your free demo.

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