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Employers’ top wins and lessons of 2022 – and what they’re planning for 2023

2022 was quite the year. It wasn’t quite 2020 for many, but it still posed numerous challenges – for instance, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surging oil prices, continued inflation and interest rates, the Great Resignation, political turmoil in the UK, a polarized shift back to the left in Brazilian leadership, among many other things. These all affect business and employees.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

To make sense of it all, we thought we’d go right to the source. We asked SMB employers what their biggest lessons and wins were from 2022 and what they’ve got on the agenda going into 2023. More than 70 responded and we’re sharing their insights to support you as we (potentially) head into a long-anticipated recession.

Let’s look at the 17 main takeaways from these employers:

1. Treat your employees as people

There’s plenty of cynicism about your colleagues being your so-called “family”, but for many of the employers we heard from, that approach is the right one. The difference being: asking employees to be part of the “family” is the wrong way around.

Rather, it’s about you, the employer, treating them as you would treat your own family. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that calls for respect and support in both directions. That same spirit applies in the workplace.

Tom Monson of Minnesota-based Monson Lawn & Landscaping says exactly that. “In 2022, I learned that making your employees feel like family can help keep them around.”

Tim Connon, the founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors in Chattanooga, Tennessee, found that supporting his employees through the tough moments was his biggest accomplishment from 2022.

“I did this by having them write out affirmations and keeping those affirmations at their desk to reference throughout the day while they dial leads,” Tim says. “This led to their mindsets completely changing and they were able to eliminate common frustrations from their work days.”

Mutually assured success

For Jim Trevors, the Head of Operations at online tire review site We Review Tires, the biggest lesson was that treating his employees as equals rather than subjects can have great results.

“In 2022, my biggest challenge with managing my team was having the confidence to know that I could have that authority,” Jim confesses. “I try to practice humility and not be too full of myself, and I was worried that I would come off as being too aggressive with my leadership or that the team wouldn’t like me. However, I’ve learned the balance, and I have a great team because of it.”

Founder Rinal Patel of Philadelphia-based real estate agency Suburb Realtor also considered the ability to improve engagement through supporting employee happiness to be his biggest accomplishment as a business owner and leader.

“It’s just as the ancient proverb would say, you can force the horse to the stream, but never to drink. Having employees who are happy to participate and are committed to contributing to the growth of the company, has increased the level of our productive efficiency as a company, this has been one of my primary concerns as a leader.”

Be kind

Tom found that being kind to his people in his landscaping company paid huge dividends.

“Times were tight for a lot of the year but I’ve been good to my employees over the years and this year they repaid me by working harder than I’ve ever seen them work for me,” he says. “Even when I expressed to them that if things kept going the way they were going, holiday bonuses might be quite a bit lighter this year, they never wavered.”

For Tom, this reaped rewards for both employer and employee.

“We didn’t have a single employee leave for greener pastures and with inflation starting to cool over the last few months, I’m happy to say I was able to once again reward my employees with the bonuses they deserved.”

2. Survive, not thrive

There are times for growth, and there are times where you just focus on pure survival. Josh Wright says that was the advice he’d have given himself in his capacity as CEO of cellphone service company CellPhoneDeal for surviving 2022.

“With rapid inflation, my customers saw their dollars going less and less far. Couple that with the continued chip shortages through much of the year and prices on technology continued to increase,” explains Josh, who works out of Atlanta, Georgia.

He adds that, in 2022, even the cheapest options were becoming more expensive and more and more customers were staying with what they already had rather than upgrading to a new phone.

“I had hoped that 2022 would be the year where I hired on a few new hands and expanded what we offered into laptops and tablets, but it became pretty clear early on in the year that simply staying at the size we started would be a victory in and of itself.”

3. Be ready for the worst

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst, as the adage goes. Jim could have penned that himself in running his tire review company.

“If I could meet with myself and my team back in December 2021, I would say that they should be prepared because things will be rocky at first, but everything will turn out just fine. Just have some patience and grace.”

Shawn Richards, who organizes expeditions for the guide service Ultimate Kilimanjaro, would also tell himself the same thing in preparing for 2022.

“I’d tell myself to have more faith. A lot of the challenges and preparations were a result of uncertainty, so telling myself to just believe in my gut would have helped a lot.”

Executive Kimberley Tyler-Smith of Resume Worded, an AI-powered career tech platform, echoes this sentiment. For her, persistence is the key.

“If I could meet with myself back in December 2021, I would tell myself that it’s okay if things don’t go exactly as planned – just keep trying until things do go according to plan!”

4. Be agile as a business …

Drawing out business plans for the upcoming year is crucial, but anyone who has attended business school knows the importance of having three financial plans – the optimistic plan, the realistic plan, and the pessimistic plan. While this means being ready for what comes, as above, it also means that you need to be nimble in your work and be able to turn things quickly as needed.

Diell, who didn’t share his last name, highlighted the importance of agility at Ukraine-based video interview startup Playhunt.

“What happened in 2022 was an eye-opener on the importance of adaptation. Business won’t always go your way and follow your terms, so you need to always have a backup plan for possible risks and adapt to change,” says Diell, Playhunt’s CEO.

“That’s what I’m planning to put more focus on in 2023, so when things are about to happen, the business is ready for survival.”

Flex your hiring

VPN Helpers co-founder and CEO Ankit Bhardwaj highlighted the importance of adaptation as well, but in terms of hiring people.

“My single biggest challenge in terms of managing my workforce in 2022 was adapting to a highly fluctuating job market,” he says of running his online privacy resource site. “This included changing regulations and quickly pivoting to find the best way to create flexible yet reliable positions that could easily transition as needed.”

Ankit ultimately subscribes to that philosophy across the board.

“While planning can help us stay one step ahead of any issues, ultimately having contingency plans ready and having employees who are well-versed in multiple skill sets are some important factors for a successful 2023 workforce strategy.”

Bend, don’t break

Kimberley also highlighted the importance of being resilient in the face of challenge – and ultimately, that means teamwork.

“In 2022, the single biggest accomplishment in my ability to manage my workforce was the ability to push through a lot of challenges in order to get the job done. It’s important to remember that when you’re working with people who are not just your team members but also your colleagues,” she says.

“You need to be able to work together and communicate effectively. You also need to be able to anticipate potential problems and develop solutions while also being open to feedback from others.”

Ankit would give the same advice to himself a year earlier.

“If I were to meet with myself and members of my team back in December 2021, I would tell them to be prepared for anything when it comes to the workforce and hiring process – both internally and externally – because flexibility will be key,” he says.

“We should focus on creating an environment that allows for innovation so that we can continue learning as we go.“

Manchester, England-based entrepreneur Julian Goldie anticipates his biggest challenge in 2023 to be navigating the post-pandemic economy and its effects on his business and workers.

“I will need to be prepared for possible changes in consumer behavior and market conditions, and be ready to adapt and adjust my business strategy accordingly.”

Plan, but be quick

The war in Ukraine posed a huge financial challenge for Diell as much of his business was in that country. He had to make some tough calls when managing his company of 12 employees.

“A strategic decision was vital in order to save the business. I made the difficult decision to temporarily reduce our workforce in order to cut costs and maintain financial stability. In line with this, I invested the same saved money in online marketing in order to attract global markets and keep the balance sheet positive.”

That agile thinking led to a turnaround in Diell’s business.

“We started getting traction so our customer base grew, and when the profit margins started increasing, I was able to quickly and efficiently re-hire many of the employees who we had let go. So my biggest accomplishment was that I wasn’t only able to survive in a difficult situation but also thrive and re-hire our previous employees.”

Diell plans to invest in online exposure and has big plans for 2023.

“The biggest accomplishment I’m hoping for in 2023 is turning from a small-sized business to a medium one by getting more business and hiring new people to help with our vision.”

Ankit, meanwhile, plans to, well, plan ahead and be proactive.

“My single biggest challenge will most likely revolve around dealing with the ever-changing job market again – how do we anticipate potential changes or issues ahead of time? And if/when something does happen, how do we remain agile enough to pivot quickly?” he hypothesizes.

He’s also thinking about it from a group perspective.

“When talking about 2023 plans with members of my team right now, I’m mostly focusing on staying informed on current trends so that we can prepare ourselves better. We need to continuously evaluate where the labor market is going so that we’re ahead of the game when it comes time for making decisions regarding our future hiring needs.”

5. … and teach your people those agile skills as well

Being nimble and rolling with the punches is not only for business operational success – it also applies to worker success as well.

The humane approach

CEO & founder Joshua Rich of international location marketing strategy service Bullseye touched on the importance of human skills.

“One thing I would highly recommend to my employees and the rest of the staff If I could go back in time would be to pay emphasis on soft skills and stick true to their inherent values,” says Joshua, whose company has offices in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Guatemala.

“These are things that help teams remain cohesive and individuals to be resilient in the face of difficult economic climates.”

Just get it done

At Sojourning Scholar, founder Chuky Ofoegbu subscribes to the ‘done is better than perfect’ mentality, even if it doesn’t have the hoped-for result. Chuky’s company provides support and resources to international students in the United States.

“If I could give myself and my team advice in 2021, it would be not to be afraid to experiment and try new things instead of waiting for the perfect solution to materialize. I now understand the importance of failing fast instead of endlessly procrastinating.”

The flexibility of the working culture at Swiss-based cannabis and CBD producer Formula Swiss has mutual benefits, according to founder and CEO Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen.

“In 2023, I want to make sure that the culture of our company stays balanced and flexible. That would be my biggest accomplishment so far in terms of managing our employees. I’d love to see them satisfied with how the company respects their personal preferences at work, so employee engagement and retention would be a lot higher than this year.”

6. Give your employees skin in the game

People are more motivated when they’re financially invested in the success of their employer. This means bonuses, rewards, incentives – anything that means when the company prospers, employees prosper with it.

United Medical Education CEO and founder Brian Clark highlighted a huge success from 2022 which was the addition of seven new employees despite inflation and decreased consumer activity at his Utah-based company.

How did Brian do that? By giving his existing team incentives.

“Out of those seven employees, five came from a new employee referral bonus program I implemented early in 2022. I am super proud of the employee referral initiative. I committed to paying out a large bonus for any hire through referral, no matter if it was a junior marketer or CFO,” Brian says.

Giving what he called an “active stake” in building the company culture ultimately led to greater team unity.

“We are mostly a remote company, so being able to involve my team in the hiring process went a long way for the grinding atmosphere we have at United Medical Education. We work hard for each other and for our mission to provide free and low-cost emergency medical information.”

Chuky utilized clear-cut KPIs in his engagement strategy.

“My biggest accomplishment was instituting performance management metrics that accurately assess employee productivity and potential. This has helped me identify and reward our high-performing employees in addition to giving them more responsibility.*

7. Reward loyalty

A part of the ‘skin in the game’ conversation is rewarding employees for sticking around and continuing to do a good job.

Netherlands-based Amy Bos, the co-founder and COO of psychic medium website Mediumchat Group, includes that incentive as part of her overall compensation package, which she considers her big win for 2022.

“Our biggest achievement has been creating a benefits menu that covers all the bases,” she says. “It’s points-based and our employees can select the benefits that suit them as long as they stay within their allocated points. Your points grow according to length of service and grade, which helps significantly with employee retention.”

Meanwhile, Rinal plans the same for his employees in 2023 at his real estate agency to highlight the importance of employee commitment.

“As one who is knowledgeable on the effect of incentives in the bid to incite employees’ commitment, I would improve the quality and percentage of bonuses.”

8. Give your employees a north star

Mission and vision statements are crucial to business – they help everyone pull their forces together into a common goal and singular objective.

Tyler Guffey learned that right away in 2022 as the CEO of internet resource site SycamoreNet. He recognized the need for change right away at the start of the year.

“This meant revisiting the organization’s core values, redefining the culture in such a way that employees can connect to the mission and goals,” he says. “We want a thriving team, one that will be independent, proactive and make decisions that don’t compromise the organization’s core values. When employees are better equipped to make decisions, what you have is a thriving team.”

Angus Chang subscribes to the same dictum at his e-commerce store Iupilon – with the additional importance of transparency.

“Make your employees a part of the big picture,” he says. “The best benefit a company can provide to their employees is the opportunity to make a difference through their work and show their skills. Clear and frequent communication about company happenings, individual and departmental direction and big-picture company direction makes all the difference in employee happiness.”

9. Open up the communication channels

On the topic of transparency – this means increased communications throughout the company.

Kimberley found this to be a big learning experience in her career tech company in 2022:

“The single biggest challenge that I had in managing my workforce was one of communication: keeping everyone on the same page, making sure they understood what their role was, and making sure that there were no misunderstandings about what needed to happen for us all to achieve success together as a team.”

Talk and listen

That’s the reality for CEO and co-founder Omer Usanmaz of mentorship software company Qooper as well.

“My current priority is to improve our internal communication so that we can become a more effective team. I have always been a firm believer of internal communication and I firmly believe it is the key to success.”

In Ukraine, Diell highlights communication as a huge key in business success – but that all changed in the shift to remote from 2020 onwards.

”So,” he says, “the challenge going into 2023 will without doubt be improving the communication between our team while working remotely.”

It goes both ways

Life Grows Green CEO Chad Price values the two-way street at his California-based hemp production company.

“Our meetings will be more feedback-oriented as we are searching for suggestions and insights from our employees,” he says. “We want to construct activities that are beneficial to everyone and our employees know what they are looking for. We also want to get an idea of everyone’s professional and personal goals, that way we can help our employees grow.”

Brandon Wilkes, the marketing manager at The Big Phone Store in England, also noted his own role in improving communications.

“First, I’ll need to get everyone on the same page in terms of what our goals are and what we need to do to achieve them. This will require some serious team-building and communication skills on my part,” Brandon says.

“Once we’re all on the same page, I’ll need to make sure everyone is working together efficiently and effectively. This will be a challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Know what your employees want

Lead attorney David Aylor of David Aylor Law Offices in South Carolina found that open communication and engagement led to his biggest triumph for 2022 in the face of the global talent crisis and the struggles of filling open positions – or “winning the talent war”, in his own words.

“We have responded by building a winning employer brand that reliably attracts high-caliber candidates. In addition, we have worked on improving every aspect of our employee experience, covering recruitment, onboarding, engagement, and retention,” David says.

“We have found success in recruitment by listening to what employees really want and making sure we are able to deliver.”

10. Trust your people and let them grow

Sometimes a business thrives on good management – other times, a company succeeds because they trust their best people to carry out the job.

Tyler found this to be the case in his Washington-based company. While he found he still needed team leaders to coordinate and guide employees, he wanted to teach that the whole process required a careful balance.

“The coaching process required high discipline because you don’t want to stand in their way and find yourself doing what you expect them to do. You are only providing support and guidance. Listening to them and asking them focused questions can help you know their thinking,” Tyler explains.

“I remained disciplined by not compromising myself to give them solutions to the problem on ground. I just permeate them through questioning and help them see.”

Tyler added that if leaders and managers find themselves giving the answers and solutions all the time, then employees lose their independence and opportunity to grow and learn.

“When employees are better equipped and prepared towards performing roles that sit beyond their normal tasks, the organizational culture is set in motion. So when new employees come in, we let our existing already-trained team leaders take them through the process of introducing them to our system of operation.”

Don’t micromanage

Susan Anderson, the lead editor of the e-commerce resource The Worthy Goods, admits that micromanagement is a flaw of hers and that it was a learning experience for 2022.

“If I could go back and have a meeting with my team members in December 2021, I’d ask them for more feedback. How did I interact with them? Did I help them grow professionally? Did I listen more or talk more? Did they feel that they were making progress?” she says.

“Micromanaging can sometimes get in the way of this dynamic. I would remember that my team members are intelligent and can figure things out.”

Failure is an option

Omer at Qooper finds that failure can be a great teacher.

“The single biggest accomplishment in managing my workforce was to give them the freedom to make decisions and accept responsibility for the outcomes of these decisions, even when these outcomes did not produce favorable results,” says Omer.

“The staff members might have had to struggle a bit in the beginning of their careers, but they learned to be more responsible, which resulted in a better work quality and productivity.”

11. Ask your team for help

Running a business and managing teams is hard work. WIth that, it’s crucial to be able to step back and ask for your team’s help.

Jim found that giving himself permission to ask for help was his biggest accomplishment for 2022 when managing his workforce at We Review Tires.

“It’s so easy to get so deep into the business that you forget that you can reach out to others for advice and assistance,” Jim says. ”I can’t do everything, and I shouldn’t do everything. Everything came together when that finally clicked, and I got the help I needed.”

Tyler takes a similar approach as CEO of his business.

“I have become more of a facilitator than involving myself in the day to day activities. We have team heads that monitor activities. And that has greatly reduced my workload as CEO,” Tyler says.

“We made sure our employees were kept active and involved. We delegate problems and not just tasks and trust them to come up with solutions. This is inclusiveness.”

12. Find your balance between in-person and remote

Workable’s 2022 survey report on the New World of Work found that most businesses were settling into a hybrid work model after oscillating between in-office and remote work settings since COVID-19 hit.

This was a learning experience for Shawn throughout 2022 when working at his expedition company.

“I think my biggest accomplishment was managing more remote and hybrid workers than before,” he says, adding that it was a struggle during the pandemic as much of the work relied on people being physically present.

“This year though, we managed to find a great balance that works out even better for us.”

Change can be stressful

Brian also called the shift from remote to hybrid his biggest challenge at United Medical Education in 2022.

“COVID was extremely difficult, and I think it made a lot of us sensitive to shifts in the workplace,” he says. “We needed to get back in the office part time for collaboration purposes, and it ended up being a challenge to get everyone motivated for another life adjustment in schedules and workplace life.”

Brian, whose company employs roughly 50 full-time employees, adds: “I am proud to say we didn’t lose anyone, but there were times where I thought we were going to be out several employees. For any small business leader, employee turnover sucks and is expensive.

“When you are dealing with an important work environment shift, the thought of having to replace people who are not on board is very stressful.”

Adaptation is key

Ankit also highlighted the struggles of adjusting to new environments – in his own case, moving some operations to a digital plane at VPN Helpers.

“In 2022, my single biggest accomplishment in terms of managing my workforce and especially, adding to or subtracting from my workforce was the successful integration of a virtual workforce into our business model,” he says.

“It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to adjust our traditional methods and learn new tools, but we ultimately achieved success by leveraging technology and new ideas.”

Amy has accepted this new world of work as the norm going forward.

“If I could travel back to December 2021, I’d tell myself and my team that remote work is here to stay and is no longer a benefit,” Amy says.

“My business was working remotely long before the pandemic and that had made us very attractive for top talent. Now it’s the norm we have to get creative to retain our appeal.”

Julian in Manchester highlighted the importance of adaptability to the remote work model.

“If I could go back and talk to myself in December 2021, I would tell myself to be prepared for the challenges of remote work and to be flexible and adaptable in managing my team. I would also advise myself to invest in the right tools and technologies to support remote work, such as virtual meeting platforms and collaboration software.”

Evolve your engagement

Anthony Martin, the founder and CEO of life insurance company Choice Mutual in Nevada, learned he had to get creative to overcome the challenges of operating as a remote-first company – especially in the lack of face-to-face interaction.

“Our biggest challenge was ensuring that remote workers felt valued and not overworked. Since we moved to a fully remote model, that challenge is knowing what our employees think when we can’t see them,” he says. “There’s no body language in emails or messages, and the tone can be difficult to read. Therefore it can be hard to tell if someone is dissatisfied with their work and if they want to stay at the company.”

Anthony’s company opened up communication throughout 2022 and now takes a proactive approach to employee engagement and morale, including more video meetings where colleagues can check in with each other regularly.

“We also ask for anonymous feedback; we feel that employees are more likely to be honest about their true feelings and have a better gauge of what changes we need to make. We want to see the signs of stress before they happen, even remotely, and make sure our employees don’t burn out,” he says.

“This has definitely improved employee morale and satisfaction.”

Sometimes you have to negotiate

Chad’s own big win for 2022 was the opposite – getting his team back into the physical workplace.

“I know this might seem a simple task, but it was difficult for some of my employees as they had changed their lifestyles to suit remote working. We had to have negotiations and allow more flexibility for it to work for both parties.”

As the director of Internet Advisor, Sean Nguyen expects that workplace flexibility will be the biggest challenge going into 2023 – especially in managing employee expectations in his company which employs 25 full-time workers in Los Angeles

“As a remote company, we’re already pretty flexible. But our employees are starting to want even more flexibility and that means that we’re going to need to make a number of changes to our business and various processes.”

The ‘balance’ in this case for Sean is finding a way to keep his people engaged while still maintaining the bottom line.

“We want to ensure that our employees appreciate the workplace, but we also want to create a workplace that inspires productivity and collaboration. That can be especially difficult if all of our employees are working at different points in time throughout each day,” he says.

“We’ve been testing a variety of different setups. Some are working quite well and our employees are communicating effectively, but others have fallen flat. This isn’t a decision that we’ll be able to make quickly and I don’t doubt that, after we implement the changes that we decide on, there will be even more challenges that we’ll need to deal with in order to keep our employees happy and productive.”

Sean’s still going to try and make it work in any case.

“I think more flexibility will be excellent for our workplace – especially since it’s clearly one of our top employee expectations. It’s just a matter of implementing it correctly.”

13. Expand your horizons

Sometimes solving problems and addressing challenges means taking a different approach with an open mind. This is also the case when it comes to building teams especially during a year where job quits were through the roof.

Jenna Carson, the director of HR at online music resource center Music Grotto, said as much about her own work in hiring strategy.

“In 2022, our single biggest accomplishment in managing our workforce came from expanding our recruiting efforts and successfully hiring and onboarding talented employees outside of our region of the United States.”

Jenna confessed that this solution created a new predicament.

“This brought with it the challenge of remotely onboarding employees who were capable and comfortable working primarily independently in time zones where the business day may not coincide with ours on the west coast of the U.S.,” she says from Portland.

“We had long considered expanding our recruitment efforts to outside our local area to increase the size and diversity of our hiring pool but had hesitated due to the added challenge of training and developing new staff and keeping them engaged.”

Talent is universal

Shawn at Ultimate Kilimanjaro also opened up his recruiting efforts to other locations.

“I often look for local talent, but the pandemic opened my eyes to all the skilled people around the world. Because of this, the majority of our hires this year worked remotely in other countries.”

Diell in Ukraine says that’s the advice he would have given himself in the past in the face of another crisis.

“If I could go back in time I would definitely tell my team members to start thinking about ways of entering new markets and practice taking some working shifts at home in a remote setting,” he says. “It was difficult to let go of employees and start adapting to working from home when the situation in Ukraine shifted dramatically for the worse.”

Growth strategy manager Eva Tian, who works at single-family rental investment company Mynd, found that the global job market posed new problems for her company.

“We were competing with companies from all over the world for the best and brightest workers. This made it difficult to attract and retain top talent, as employees had more options and were willing to switch jobs for better opportunities.”

She took a more agile attitude as a result.

“We had to constantly evaluate our recruitment and retention strategies and make adjustments to stay competitive. Overall, managing and adding to our workforce in 2022 was a constant challenge and required a proactive and flexible approach.”

Joshua Haley, the founder of relocation service Moving Astute, also struggled to fill positions in 2022, and reassessed his talent identification strategy as a result.

“My solution to this challenge was to look for candidates who were different than the ones that I had typically hired in the past,” Joshua says.

“This included expanding my search parameters and actively seeking out underrepresented populations such as women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and veterans. By doing this, I was able to find talented people who could bring fresh perspectives and different skill sets to my organization.”

DEI is important, especially, for Joshua.

“I would stress the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This means actively recruiting candidates from underrepresented populations, creating an equitable work environment, and ensuring that everyone on our team feels included and valued.”

14. Establish a well-thought-out candidate evaluation process

The recruitment process is core to business success. This includes every step of the process.

David says as much in the advice he’d give to the 2021 version of himself, highlighting the importance of candidate experience when hiring for his legal service:

“Analyze the candidate’s journey,” he says. “The candidate journey, from job descriptions and applications to interviews and onboarding, is a crucial aspect of your employer brand. It is well worth the investment to look closely at the entire journey to ensure every interaction is accessible, fair, and inclusive.

“To attract the very best candidates, you must optimize your interactions with them at every stage of the recruiting process.”

See where their passion lies

The Great Resignation posed a huge challenge for Carla Diaz in terms of candidate evaluation at Broadband Search, a website that helps consumers choose their ideal internet provider.

“This made it harder for us to identify candidates who were looking for a more serious position in our industry instead of looking for something that would just pass the time. When we hire employees we want to make sure that they’re in it for the long run,” says Carla.

“We want people to start working for us who are truly interested and who value the act of trying to help people get connected. If that’s something that they’re truly passionate about, we know that they’ll probably be a good fit in our company.”

This was a major learning experience for Carla, whose company employs 21 full-time employees.

“Our hiring process is set up to help us identify this type of passion, but it was a lot more difficult to do so in 2022 and we had a few instances where people came in and left shortly after finding a different job that they were looking for the whole time. We’ve now refined the hiring process even further to help us better identify these types of candidates and it seems to be working well so far.”

Culture fit is fitting

Health and fitness entrepreneur Michael Perry anticipates that he’ll have to start recruiting people again once he recalls all his staff to his FitnessFixedGear.com office in Los Angeles.

“The strategy is still the same – to prioritize fit and culture. We’ve been working so well because we jive together. Everyone improved a lot because the work atmosphere was lively, cheerful, supportive, and positive.”

This, of course, means evaluating for those kinds of attitudes – even ahead of hard skills.

“The primary goal is to identify the traits and qualities you want to spread in your workplace. Then find key people who exude them. It doesn’t matter if they are less skilled; they will quickly learn all those. It’s much harder to ask people to change their attitude!”

Culture fit is very important to Logan Mallory, a VP at employee recognition software company Motivosity, which employs 65 people in Utah. He is even willing to wait – to the point that it became a problem of sorts in 2022.

“Our biggest challenge in terms of adding to our workforce *was maintaining company culture during periods of growth. It was important to us that when we were hiring, we were focusing on finding the right culture fit, rather than rushing to simply hire to fill a position,” he says.

“This meant that it took us a bit longer to fill a couple of open roles, but by taking the time to find the right person for a specific position, we were able to ensure that they’d succeed in that role and be able to fit in well with the rest of the team.”

Joshua also highlighted the importance of culture fit when looking at potential new employees for his relocation company – plus, hiring those who could bring value to his teams right away.

More so, onboarding was key to success for Joshua in 2022.

“I made sure that all of my new hires were fully onboarded and trained properly so that they could be productive from day one,” Joshua says. “By taking these measures, I was able to not only find great employees but also make sure that they were set up for success from the start. This helped me ensure that my team remained productive and efficient throughout 2022.”

15. Invest in your people

Businesses are not the only ones that need to shift and change and grow with the times. Employees need to too, and they also want to.

Amy recognizes the value of that in terms of employee engagement at Mediumchat.

“We’re having meetings with our team over the next month to discuss their personal training and growth plans. As a business we believe in nurturing our employees and helping them reach their career goals through tailored plans.”

Eva recognizes the importance of that not only for employee engagement at Mynd, but for staying competitive as a business as well.

“With the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, many traditional job roles were becoming obsolete, and it was crucial for my company to adapt and stay ahead of the curve by constantly updating our skill sets and offering training opportunities for our employees.”

L&D doesn’t have to be expensive

Robin found that training and development programs are key to retaining talent at his Swiss cannabis company – but the cost and resources for that became his biggest challenge in 2022.

He found a solution that worked.

“After several trials and errors, we decided to take a leap of faith and give our new employees a reasonable budget so they could take the right classes taught by the right people. With this step, we saw positive results and were planning to continue giving them opportunities for growth going forward.”

Chad is worried about tracking team productivity and boosting motivation throughout 2023 in his own cannabis company in California – and his hoped-for antidote to that is, of course, L&D.

“Sometimes tasks begin slipping through the cracks and motivation seems low, but that’s a challenge that we will overcome. Ideally, we’d like to add learning and development activities to our weekly regimen.”

Fran Haasch Law Group personal injury attorney Francoise M. Haasch in Florida acknowledges that 2022 was a year of uncertainty – but knowing what he could count on was a huge win for the year.

“It has been challenging to predict what is going to happen in the world and the economy. Against all odds, however, we were able to face this uncertainty and embrace all the challenges that came our way. While we couldn’t predict the state of the economy, we could focus on investing in ourselves, and I believe that is our greatest accomplishment.”

16. Incorporate technology

Digital transformation is, of course, one of the biggest – ahem – workplace transformations coming out of the pandemic. It was in fact one of the paradigm shifts that turned out to be true according to our 2022 New World of Work survey, with more than half of all businesses saying digitization of operations becoming a permanent strategy.

And this is continuing, for people like Ankit.

“In 2023, my single biggest accomplishment in terms of managing my workforce and especially, adding to or subtracting from it will likely involve implementing even more efficient processes that take advantage of available technology.”

David also considers DX a major shift in his attorney practice.

“Digitization is rapidly transforming the working landscape, and employees will be needing new skills and opportunities to develop their careers. A lack of training opportunities is fast becoming one of the main reasons people quit their jobs,” he says.

“As a forward-looking employer, we will be investing heavily in career growth and development in 2023 to ensure our employees stay engaged and continue to be productive.”

Play the numbers game

Aaron Davis, the CEO of Business Frame, says he’s completed the digital transformation of his Tennessee-based accounting firm – with data and analytics at its core.

“We even have AI working for us now. We’ve truly revolutionized the operations department. And now, it’s time to bring HR into the future. Finding things in the dark, looking for signs, and trusting your gut feeling are all obsolete,” he says.

“Everything should now be based on scientific principles. A data-driven business decision is more effective than anything else.”

And his advice for businesses? Capitalize on all this readily accessible information – and don’t forget the importance of being human in it all.

“Train HR teams in using people analytics and how to create a strategy based on the results: The more experience they gain, the better they become,” Aaron says.

“To help you even more, ensure that listening is prioritized: You can maximize the return on your people analytics investment in two ways: by being transparent in your communications and getting the entire business’s support for continuous listening.”

17. And finally: be kind to yourself

We’re in a wild world right now. We may be returning to a semblance of normal in some ways, but we’re also moving to a new kind of normal – whether that’s the “next” normal or the “never” normal, we’ll only know in hindsight.

In all of this, it’s important to be kind to yourself, celebrate the small wins, and pay attention to the positives.

Medical education entrepreneur Brian Clark says it best:

“Something my dad said to me once comes to my mind. I would tell them what he told me during a rough period in my life. This is just a season of your life, work is what you do, not who you are.

“That is tough to accept, especially when you are passionate about what you do, but knowing this would have taken a lot of stress out of the challenges and allowed for my joy in reflection of the accomplishments and the journey to get where we are today.”

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