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Q3 Report

2023 Employee Engagement Trends & Forecasts

Using the collective experience and expertise of Inspirus thought leaders and subject matter experts, this report dives into what we see trending for the third quarter of 2023, and our vision of how these trends will impact the future of our industry and our clients’ programs.

These trends and forecasts cover current business critical topics that HR professionals need to know:

  • Focusing retention efforts on high Performers
  • Getting creative to tap into alternative talent pools
  • Leveraging AI to boost operational efficiency and improve business outcomes
  • The vital role HR plays in driving business strategy
  • Supporting mental health to increase employee engagement
  • Diversity initiatives declining even as companies become more diverse
  • Encouraging microcultures to create a culture of inclusion and belonging

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2023 Employee Engagement Trends & Forecasts: Q3

Welcome to Inspirus’ 3Q 2023 Inspirus Trends & Forecasts Report. The 2Q report shattered all records, with 14,600+ professionals reading it, an increase of 22% from the 1Q report. We’re happy to provide fresh insights to industry professionals who share our passion! For our new readers: our Trends Reports draw upon the collective wisdom and thought leadership of our Inspirus team to reveal what we see as trending now and our vision of how these trends will impact the future of our industry and our clients’ programs. And now that Inspirus is a Pluxee company, owned by the multinational Sodexo Group, we’re better able to use the collective support and learnings of employee engagement leaders in 31 countries to better support 1) U.S. organizations facing dynamic changes in the workplace, and 2) employees who have increasing expectations of well-being and fulfilment.

What’s changed since 2Q? Economic forecasts are mixed. Deloitte Insights predicted that the U.S. economy would return to normal in 2Q 2023, although it cited concerns about ‘an impending slowdown’. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.3% in the first quarter of 2023. However, profits decreased 5.1% in the first quarter after decreasing 2.0% in 4Q 2022. The Conference Board recently forecasted that weaknesses emerging in some parts of the economy would intensify, leading to a recession. This outlook was influenced by numerous factors including persistent inflation, Federal Reserve hawkishness, dampened bank lending amid the banking crisis, reduced government spending due to the debt ceiling deal, and underlying trends in consumer spending and income, and business investment. Their forecast of GDP growth is much more conservative, slowing to 1.0% in 2023, and then falling to 0.0% in 2024.

So, what does this all mean for U.S companies? First, an impending slowdown suggests that companies should focus on remaining agile and adaptable in the face of potential economic challenges. Whereas retention has been a continuous challenge throughout the pandemic, organizations are now placing more emphasis on retaining high performing individuals, rather than en-masse. The strategies and tactics they’re using to boost employee retention — especially for those high performers — are quite different from even those used just a year ago. With U.S. businesses losing at least $1 trillion yearly due to voluntary employee turnover, and a recent study finding that high performers are 400% more productive than average ones, it’s no wonder that organizations are laser-focused on retaining their valuable employees.

When organizations do need to backfill, they are getting creative to tap into alternative talent pools to fill those roles. Yahoo suggested that 2023 would remain a candidate-driven market, and that has proved to be the case. Even as unemployment continues to drop, employee trends rather than market trends are stalling the arrival of an employer market, at least in the foreseeable future. Organizations are using all their creative juices to find and lure in valuable workers including considering boomerang employees, leveraging social media, upping the ante with unique perks, offering referral rewards and more.

And let’s not leave AI out of the conversation! Organizations that recognize and embrace that disruption from AI is here — not just coming — are ensuring that their workforce buys into how AI can help the organization, not hinder it. With the World Economic Forum predicting that 85 million jobs will be lost to automation between 2020 and 2025, many company leaders still aren’t sure how AI will fit into their business model. A study by IBM found that only 35% of companies reported using AI in their business and about 42% are exploring AI. We’re seeing that early adopters of AI improve both their operational efficiency and their customer experiences.

These are just a tiny fraction of our findings — there are many more in the full report. I hope this intelligence holds value for you and your organization. Our goal remains: deliver fresh insights, unique perspectives, actionable strategies and of course, best practices to help organizations elevate employee engagement and create a thriving culture.

Yours in success,
Tatiana Frierson
Chief Executive Officer
Inspirus | A Pluxee company

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Focusing Retention Efforts on High Performers

The talent market is shifting, according to the latest figures. Several years of mismatched unemployment rates and job openings gave job seekers and employees an advantage over organizations. While there are plenty of challenges ahead, the same strategies employers have used to navigate the talent landscape in recent years may no longer be the most effective. 

The national unemployment rate made history in March 2023, matching the lowest rate since 1969 of 3.5%. At the same time, the JOLTS report indicated job openings are also at a post-COVID low point, decreasing to 9.6 million in March 2023, in large part due to the Federal Reserve’s efforts to control inflation by raising interest rates, but edged up to 10.1 million in April. Layoffs and discharges have continued as well, increasing to 1.8 million (+248,000) and 1.2 %, respectively.

Fewer organizations are actively looking for new hires right now, and the threat of a recession still looms on the horizon. However, organizations that can retain their valuable employees for longer may have an easier time riding out the storm. And the strategies and tactics they use to boost employee retention — especially in high performers — must be quite different from the approach they used a year ago, amid the height of the Great Resignation.  

These changes impact employers as much as employees, so it’s crucial to understand what’s trending from both perspectives to chart a path forward.

Employee Retention: From the Company Perspective

We're finding that employers are finally able to relax some of the focus and resources that have been devoted to talent acquisition as they reorient toward employee retention. 


  • Organizations are prioritizing high-performing employees and recognizing the value they contribute. This presents an opportunity to cultivate employee engagement with recognition from your top executives.

  • With that focus comes greater opportunities for career growth. Organizations can invest more in professional development, rather than challenging employees to merely fill in the gaps created by layoffs and resignations.


  • If companies are not hiring as many new employees, it could mean that they are not growing as quickly as they would like — or that growth is stalled — which could result in flat revenue and impact strategic planning in the coming year.

  • Organizations should be very concerned with voluntary exits as they are a signal to high performers that better opportunities exist elsewhere. They may not leave immediately, but they may start to look or begin to show signs of quiet quitting.

  • Voluntary exits and low employee engagement could impact the company's ability to innovate, compete in the market, or take on new projects.

Employee Retention: From the Employee Perspective

We’re noticing that when companies place more focus on valuing employees and building engagement, employees aren’t as eager to look for reasons to quit or let their performance lag.


  • Employees who feel more valued and more secure in their jobs are less likely to look for new opportunities elsewhere.

  • Employees who feel valued have higher levels of engagement and are more likely to innovate and contribute to a thriving culture.


  • Some employees may still be unhappy with their current roles, but the fear of change in this uncertain economy outweighs their unhappiness and/or desire to make a change.

  • Layoffs and voluntary exits change the operational and social fabric of workplaces, prompting more departures from their peers.

Why Organizations Need to Focus on High Performers

As many organizations have learned over the last few years, turnover is expensive. In fact, large U.S. businesses lose at least $1 trillion yearly due to voluntary employee turnover, much of which could have been prevented. With turnover now declining, leaders can concentrate their retention focus on high-performing individuals — and there is data to support that these individuals are crucial to a company’s productivity and success. A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians and athletes found that high performers are 400% more productive than average ones, making the ROI for retaining top performers crystal clear.

How to Retain High-Performing Employees

Here’s what’s trending to keep high-performing individuals happy, productive and in their roles.

1) Offer competitive base salaries or hourly wages. Competitive compensation boosts employee job satisfaction and helps organizations retain their best workers. If more money is not in the cards due to budget restraints, offer other valuable perks like more time off or child-care stipends. Personalized compensation packages are an effective emerging trend. “Pick your pay” is an excellent way to retain high performers in addition to attracting new workers!

2) Reward high performers for achievements. Shine a light on notable accomplishments, big and small. This acknowledges positive behavior and shows rising stars on the edge of greatness that higher performance nets more rewards and recognition. The top two reasons employees left (or considered leaving) their job are that they didn’t feel their work was valued by the organization or that they lacked a sense of belonging, according to Harvard Business Review (subscription). Effective organizations create a culture of recognition that ensures employees feel valued, that they belong and that satisfies their sense of purpose.

3) Keep employees motivated. Keeping employees energized and motivated has many facets. We talked about rewards and recognition above, but companies do not have to stop there. Successful organizations are also pursuing these additional avenues to inspire employee motivation.

  • Offering flexible work arrangements to give employees more control over their work schedule and help them better manage their personal responsibilities.

  • Investing in employees’ professional growth — including training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career advancement paths—to help employees feel valued which increases happiness and motivation.

  • Focusing on creating a positive workplace culture that fosters collaboration, communication, and innovation, and helps employees feel supported, increasing their motivation and engagement levels.

  • Using technology like Connects to enhance the employee experience and create a more dynamic and engaging work environment that can help motivate employees to perform at their best.

Looking for more examples? Thomson Reuters shares 20 great examples of what they do to motivate employees by encouraging their workforce to be curious and challenge the status quo. 

4) Become a destination company. Encourage your high performers to recruit their peers (who are also likely high performers) to your organization by showing them the culture they covet. Hiring high performers while cultivating a healthy work culture can turn an organization into an employer of choice, which in turn attracts top talent. Turnover is inevitable but replacing employees who leave with high performers helps everyone in the organization and invests in future success. 

Leading companies know the value of culture, according to a Korn Ferry survey of senior executives from the World’s Most Admired Companies (WMACs). According to survey respondents, culture is the most underrated determinant of a company’s future success and 87% said they will remain committed to culture during a potential downturn. Prioritizing culture and behaving consistently according to organizational values are attractive qualities for high-performing individuals in your organization and in the talent market.

5) Promote career growth opportunities. Create internal opportunities for professional growth so your best people don’t have to look elsewhere. Offer experiences that center around collaboration and upskilling and devote time for continuous education. Communicate clear promotion opportunities — not just through internal job postings but also with clearly defined career paths within your organization — so employees can set goals and progress toward them. Adopt or expand mentorship programs and involve employees in cross-training and succession planning to help them identify their interests and goals, and feel valued for their contributions. Ultimately, you want to help employees connect the dots that you are investing in them as a future leader of the organization if that aligns with their ambitions.

A Culture of Recognition Drives the Retention of High Performers

Everyone deserves recognition — and most employees crave it. Recognition motivates every individual to give their all. When recognition is integral to work culture, high performers tend to be easy to identify and, because those individuals are the greatest assets an organization has, focusing retention efforts on those people is an investment in the business. Retaining high-performing employees can reduce turnover and save on hiring costs, build more productive and effective teams, and create a resilient organization strong enough to endure economic downturns. We’re seeing a growing trend of employers prioritizing the retention of high performers, and those who don’t will most certainly struggle to remain competitive and relevant.

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Getting Creative to Tap Into Alternative Talent Pools

With unemployment shrinking, how employers cultivate their talent pipeline will garner greater focus — and with this shift must come some new strategies. In a report by Yahoo News in late 2022, the web services and news provider suggested that 2023 would remain a candidate-driven market. The report asserted that applicants would continue to have the upper hand and negotiate for better pay and perks because many organizations would still need to compete for top talent. We’ve found companies are still concerned with talent acquisition despite the challenges they face in a competitive talent landscape, an exhausted workforce and pressure to control costs. 

Thus, with companies likely to remain focused on talent acquisition in 3Q and beyond, here are some practices and strategies to lead the pack in securing top talent.

Leverage “Quiet Hiring”

Gartner reports that “quiet hiring” offers new ways to secure ‘in-demand talent’ vs. adding new full-time employees. The strategy involves reskilling current employees so they can fill role gaps created by separations and promotions. We outlined how to approach “quiet hiring” — along with quiet quitting and quiet firing — in a blog article in February 2023 and it's worthy of another read.

Consider Boomerang Employees

Millions of employees quit their jobs during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, in search of better culture, higher pay, and more growth opportunities. But a recent Paychex study reports that 80% of employees who left their jobs during The Great Resignation now regret it. The trend of "boomerang employees" is on the rise in the U.S. in 2023. A 2023 Harvard Business Review report shows that 28% of new hires in a multiyear study were boomerang hires who had resigned within the previous 36 months. 

Employers can reduce turnover and increase the chances that high performers will return by treating exiting employees fairly and making it clear the door is always open. But this trend doesn’t mean you should exclusively focus on people who left your organization. Be open-minded about candidates with a short tenure in their current positions, as they may be looking to get out of a role they previously thought was a good fit.

Showcase Company Culture on Social Media

Companies that highlight their culture and values on social media have historically attracted top talent who want to work for a company that aligns with their beliefs. In 2023, we expect social media platforms will continue to play a crucial role in showcasing a company's culture. One company that has shown its positive company culture on social media is Muck Rack. Inc. named Muck Rack to its 2023 list of Best Workplaces, and according to Inc.'s survey of Muck Rack employees, the company received an overall score of 91.11, with 97% of its workforce reporting they feel engaged at work.

With 1 billion monthly active users and with reportedly solid reach to users in the U.S. ages 18 and up, it’s no wonder recruiters are also using TikTok. When it comes to social media, it’s crucial to be mindful and intentional about which platforms you use (hint: be most active where your target audience is!) and ensure the content you post is relevant to your desired audience. Use your social media presence to highlight what is unique about your culture, through testimonials from employees, behind-the-scenes videos and messages from your executive leadership. If you’re hosting recruiting events — whether online, in-person, or both — promote those on your social media accounts as well. 

Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development

Companies are offering opportunities for growth and development, such as mentorship programs and training, to attract top talent who want to continuously learn and advance in their careers.

  • Offering mentorship and coaching programs. Microsoft provides mentorship and coaching programs to employees to help them grow, develop their skills and advance their careers within the company. Mentorships can be as formal or informal as your company’s size and culture can support; the benefits exist regardless of scale.

  • Encouraging internal mobility. Amazon encourages internal mobility by providing employees with opportunities to work in different departments or locations within the company. This helps employees develop new skills, gain new experiences and advance their careers without having to leave the company. Smaller companies often approach this with cross-functional training. 

  • Providing leadership training. Deloitte is investing in leadership training programs to help employees develop the skills needed to advance and become effective leaders within the company.

  • Offering tuition reimbursement. Starbucks offers tuition reimbursement programs to help employees further their education, showing they’re invested in their long-term growth and development. (This benefit is even open to eligible part-time employees, a rare perk in any industry.) For companies that cannot afford tuition reimbursement, offering flexible schedules and time off for school commitments helps support working students.

  • Providing opportunities for innovation. Google provides employees with opportunities to work on innovative projects outside of their normal job responsibilities, helping employees develop new skills and fostering a culture of innovation. No matter the size of your team, including employees in brainstorming, problem-solving and planning can foster an entrepreneurial spirit and boost engagement.

Combine Competitive Pay with Unique Perks

Offering employees competitive pay enhances their overall job satisfaction since they tend to feel valued and are more likely to be motivated to perform at a high level. Competitive salaries can enhance a positive culture because they drive employee satisfaction levels and morale higher. But go one step beyond to attract the best candidates and retain your high-performing employees: offer unique perks that speak to today’s modern workers like home office budgets, paid sabbaticals, mental health re-charge days and paid time off for volunteering. While companies are planning to offer 4.6% salary increases in 2023, some are using these unique perks as an alternative way to both attract and retain valuable employees while controlling costs.

Offer Referral Rewards

Employers are offering referral bonuses to employees who refer top talent to the organization, incentivizing their employees to help attract top talent. Here are a few high-profile cash and non-cash examples:

  • Gifts and gift cards for products, services, and experiences. Offer employees the option of selecting from a menu of gift rewards to show your gratitude and appreciation for their referral of a successful candidate.

  • Additional paid time off. Time is one of the most valuable things an employer can give an employee. Consider offering an extra day off with pay for each referral hire, and possibly an additional day off earned when the new hire reaches certain milestones. 

  • Recognition. Leverage your employee engagement platform to thank employees who have referred successful candidates. Feature them in your company newsletter or make an announcement during a staff meeting. 

  • Bonus payments. Many companies offer one-time referral bonuses to employees who refer successful candidates, with the amounts ranging widely depending on the size of the company and the rarity of the skill set. For instance, as employers in many industries struggle to find certain types of candidates, they may offer a higher referral bonus for those positions to incentivize employees to tap into their personal networks. 

  • Multi-level incentive plans. Globe Life and its affiliates offer at least two recruiting incentive plans; The Pinnacle Club has three levels and features online redemption of high-value merchandise for the referring employee, and Globe Life Liberty National Pro Club offers an incremental 6-level lifetime ladder of rewards for employee referrals.

Being Resourceful for Talent Challenges

The changing talent landscape requires organizational leaders to be creative and flexible — which also means being willing to try new things and move away from traditional approaches that aren’t yielding the results today’s businesses need. By using the trending talent strategies we outlined here, companies can continue to attract top talent — even in a tight talent market —and differentiate themselves from competitors in the job market.

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Leveraging AI to Boost Operational Efficiency and Improve Business Outcomes

In our 2Q Trends Report, we discussed the ways HR professionals are using AI to personalize communications, evaluate performance, elevate the employee experience and more. But in the few months since then, AI has penetrated our workplace and lives even deeper. A technology revolution is occurring right before our eyes. To remain competitive, leaders need to embrace these organizational shifts and technological changes. Depending on how organizations address change management, these shifts could represent massive challenges or stand as indicators of opportunity for growth.

McKinsey reports that ‘making way for applied AI’ is trending in 2023, and we concur. The use of AI presents opportunities to boost operational efficiencies and build better organizations for the long term. Organizations are already using AI to help build their talent pipelines, drastically improve ways of working, and make faster, data-driven structural changes.

Here’s what business leaders need to know about the current state of AI and its potential for helping your organization grow. 

The Basics

By now, most of us understand that AI tools are a type of technology that enables machines to perform tasks that would typically require human beings. AI technology involves creating computer programs (often called an engine) that can learn from data to make decisions and perform actions without human intervention. AI comes in many different flavors, too:

  • Generative AI. These tools create new content. For example, DeepDream by Google uses a neural network to create surreal images from existing photographs and ChatGPT can draft articles or essays drawn from text available on the internet.

  • Applied AI. This type of AI solves specific problems or performs specific tasks. For example, Apple’s Siri is an intelligent personal assistant that can understand and respond to voice commands, perform tasks and provide information.

  • Predictive AI. These AI tools analyze data and make predictions about future events or trends. For example, Netflix’s recommendation engine uses machine learning to analyze users' viewing history, preferences and feedback to suggest personalized content.

On a very basic level, AI tools can be used for many business tasks that are difficult or cumbersome for humans to take on, such as predicting sales trends, identifying fraudulent transactions or automating repetitive tasks. Because AI tools can perform these tasks much faster and more efficiently than humans, many companies have already adopted AI for those use cases. More forward-thinking companies are using automation for product recommendation engines, warehouse automation, e-commerce and creating original content through generative AI. 

For all its benefits, there are risks associated with AI tools and, in some cases, even dangers. AI tools have the capacity to program autonomous weapons, pose security risks, invade privacy and more. Further, there are growing fears that automation and AI will change the way we work and force people into other roles, or worse yet, unemployment. Some experts point out that potential shifts in occupations are imminent by 2030, estimating that between 75 to 375 million workers (3 to 14% of the global workforce) will need to upskill and secure new jobs. 

Organizational Shifts Aren’t Coming, They’re Here

Most employees fear AI will replace them in some capacity, with IBM fueling that fire in a recent Bloomberg interview. CEO Arvind Krishna said the tech company is slowing or suspending hiring for any jobs that could be done by AI — including human resources and other non-customer-facing roles that amount to roughly 26,000 positions. He claims 30% of roles in a five-year period could be replaced by AI, or approximately 7,800 jobs. But it’s important to note that figure may include not rehiring for jobs that would become vacant. 

Other experts have pointed out that the adoption of AI tools might create as many jobs as they replace in the form of AI project managers and others who will be needed to oversee the functions of AI. Meanwhile, AI tools might offload administrative work and other repetitive tasks, freeing up the time and energy of humans to focus on creative work such as innovation, collaboration and relationship-building. 

AI will play a growing role in HR planning and decisions. According to a November 2022 survey of 300 U.S. human resources leaders conducted by Capterra, a software research firm, companies are already using AI to help them decide whom to lay off. In fact, 98% of the HR leaders surveyed planned to use AI technology to make layoff decisions in 2023. (However, the survey did not provide information on the number of companies that are currently laying off workers and using AI to perform those tasks.)

How to Introduce AI to Employees 

Understandably so, many employees are concerned about how the adoption of AI tools will impact their current jobs and future livelihood. The key to introducing AI into mainstream use is to first have open conversations with employees and gain their feedback so that you can incorporate this new technology with as little pain and anxiety as possible. Explain the changes coming with the use of AI and how it will affect their jobs. Listen to and address their concerns. Successfully rolling out AI tools includes providing training and education to help employees understand how to work with AI and how they can benefit (by being more productive and efficient). Applied and predictive AI requires large amounts of data to learn from, so employees need to understand how their work contributes to the data that feeds AI algorithms. After all, the output of AI tools is only as good as the data they learn from.

Getting Employee Buy-in for AI Tools

Data shows AI has the power to transform workplaces. New research by Stanford and MIT shows generative AI boosted worker productivity by as much as 35%. Despite these findings, the technology still carries a stigma. A higher share of Americans think it will hurt workers more than it will help, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. So, employers must prepare their workforce and their operations to move forward — or risk losing traction very quickly:

  • Develop a strategy. Organizational leaders should identify how AI can be used to improve productivity, operations, products and services. They should also consider the potential risks and challenges associated with AI and develop a strategy to manage those when they arise.

  • Evaluate ethical implications. Companies need to evaluate the ethical implications of using AI, including issues related to bias, transparency and accountability. They should develop policies and procedures to ensure that their use of AI is ethical and responsible.

  • Prioritize data management. AI relies heavily on data, so companies need to prioritize data management, including data quality, security and privacy. This includes developing policies and procedures for collecting, storing and using data.

  • Invest in infrastructure. To support AI, companies will need to invest in infrastructure, including hardware, software and networking. Leaders also need to ensure that their infrastructure is scalable and can handle the demands of AI applications as they evolve.

Part of that support infrastructure includes employees. World Economic Forum predicts that 85 million jobs will be lost to automation between 2020 and 2025. Skill sets for jobs have changed by around 25% since 2015, contributing to the skills gap we’re seeing now. By 2027, this number is expected to double. Organizations need to prepare for this inevitable future by investing in upskilling and reskilling now — not just to fill current gaps, but to create internal talent pipelines for the coming years, especially as older workers retire. Don’t risk losing their knowledge; tap into their years of experience by utilizing older workers as mentors and trainers while simultaneously working to train younger workers on emerging technologies. This helps build strength and resiliency within your organization and also contributes to higher employee retention. 

Leverage AI as an Asset

Overall, AI tools are a type of technology that can help companies improve their operations and customer experiences. By using AI, companies can streamline tasks, save time and money, and provide better service to customers. This also means AI tools can have a positive impact on the employee experience by reducing menial tasks and improving efficiency. Done well, adopting AI tools can meaningfully transform how your organization works and what your team can accomplish. But approach with caution: there are far-reaching implications that have not even surfaced yet. It may be decades before AI tools will become common in the workplace but those who start now will build a solid foundation of knowledge and experience on which to stand as they navigate the challenges ahead.

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HR Plays a Vital Role in Driving Business Strategy

Over the past several years, we’ve seen a growing proportion of HR leaders secure their seats at the executive leadership table, take on more responsibilities and influence related to business outcomes, and prove that an organization’s people are its biggest asset. Often, HR professionals and leaders spend so much energy on tactical duties — like issuing paychecks, addressing employee issues, and managing the onboarding of new hires — that their role is often seen as transactional. But in reality, HR is — and has always been — a true driver of business strategy, especially as companies leaned heavily on HR during the pandemic. 

HR professionals can and should be integral in developing a company’s business strategy by aligning their human resource initiatives with the goals and objectives of the organization. Creating a ‘people first’ employee experience is perhaps the most effective way to do just that.

Promoting a Human-centric Approach

A ‘people first’ approach, as its name implies, involves recognizing employees as unique and individual humans who are the lifeblood of the business. While people first is largely a cultural concept, it comes to life through an organization’s policies, programs and practices. 

Here are some of the ways we’ve seen HR professionals become a vital part of the development and implementation of business strategy by championing a human-centric approach to people management:

Strategic Workforce Planning: HR professionals can help identify gaps in the workforce and develop strategies to fill those gaps. They can analyze data to determine the skills, knowledge and experience needed for the current and future workforce and use that intel to create a plan for recruitment, training and development. This includes identifying new, creative talent pools to tap into (see trend 2, Getting Creative to Tap Into Alternative Talent Pools). This is a key requirement at a time when more than half (62%) of talent acquisition teams are finding more high-quality candidates through sourcing than inbound applications. HR professionals also leverage competitive recruiting strategies to attract top candidates and work to continually improve the candidate experience to keep talent engaged so recruiters and hiring managers can identify the best possible hires for the organization.

Talent Management: HR professionals can identify high-potential employees and create programs that support their growth and development. This could mean creating and managing programs to develop talent internally, such as mentorships, skills training, support for ongoing education and other investments in current employees that reduce turnover and help build pipelines of future leaders. HR can also spearhead succession plans, which ensure that the organization has a pipeline of talent to fill critical positions in the short and long term.

Employee Engagement: HR professionals can inspire a positive workplace culture that values and supports employees' physical, emotional, and mental health. They can empower managers to provide opportunities for employee career growth/development and encourage the use of employee rewards and recognition programs, which help reinforce desired behaviors and attitudes while simultaneously helping to build a culture of belonging and purpose. Engaged employees are more likely to be productive and committed to achieving organizational goals so investing in employee engagement is also an investment that leads to better business outcomes. And if your organization is struggling to improve employee engagement, know you’re not alone. Average engagement dipped at the height of the pandemic, according to Gallup, and hasn’t quite rebounded yet — so this remains an uphill battle for many employers. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): HR professionals can promote diversity, equity and inclusion by influencing a work culture where all employees feel valued and supported — regardless of their background, gender, race, or other characteristics. Truly diverse work cultures celebrate differences rather than attempt to ignore them. HR can also develop programs to attract and retain a diverse workforce. This is of growing importance to job seekers and employees alike; in fact, more than 75% consider DEI one of their top priorities when making decisions about jobs or companies. Because of this, DEI initiatives and their outcomes can help attract new talent, retain employees and cultivate future leaders. (For more on this, see trend 6, Diversity Initiatives Declining, Even as Companies Become More Diverse.)

Data Analytics: We’re seeing data continue to play a growing role in HR leadership and strategy. HR professionals can use data analytics to measure the effectiveness of HR initiatives and identify opportunities for improvement. For example, the reporting functionality in Connects, Inspirus’ employee engagement technology platform, provides visibility into the points that have been awarded via recognition through the platform, which helps HR professionals anticipate the spend of each program. Data from HR can help the entire organization make informed decisions and demonstrate the impact of HR programs on business outcomes.

Securing HR’s Seat at the Table

While HR has made great strides in demonstrating its value to the organization at large, the journey is not complete. HR professionals — and leaders in particular — need to remain proactive, continue to invest in people and be prepared to show results. By focusing on the areas we outlined above and building a true people-first culture, HR professionals can contribute to the development and implementation of business strategy, drive organizational performance and create a competitive advantage for the organization.

Download the full report to read all of the 2023 employee engagement trends for Q3!