Workforce 2023: 15 Trends for Blue-Collar Employers to Watch

9 minutes read

It’s been quite a year for employers, especially those with hourly, blue-collar workers. But what lies ahead in 2023? We gazed into our crystal ball to round up some predictions for 2023.

While nothing is etched in stone, the more prepared you are, the better you can plan—and the more successful your new year will likely be. To help you prepare for 2023, here are 15 workforce trends that blue-collar employers should keep an eye on.

15 Trends for 2023

  • Employers Will Pay More for Labor in 2023
    If you want to stay competitive, prepare to pony up. Employers are planning an average salary increase of 4.1%—the highest since 2008, per a WTW survey. Increases may even be higher for blue-collar employers thanks to a shrinking population of workers without college degrees. 
  • Workers Will Continue to Switch Jobs in 2023 … for Higher Wages
    The Great Resignation will go on in 2023, but the focus is now financial. Six in 10 workers worry that their paychecks won’t keep pace with inflation—which is why one-third will be job-hunting and more will take on a second gig.
  • In Seven States, Minimum Wages Will Increase Because of Inflation
    Arizona, Maine, Montana, Ohio, South Dakota, Minnesota and Vermont have something in common. Employers in these states will pay higher minimum wages in 2023 because their statutory thresholds are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which is tracking an 8%-plus increase in inflation.
  • Employers Will Offer ‘White-Collar’ Benefits to Blue-collar Workers
    HR experts predict that, in a retention move, employers will offer blue-collar workers traditionally white-collar benefits like career guidance, education, paid parental leave and flexible hours. The latter is especially significant since blue-collar workers are increasingly migrating to white-collar jobs in pursuit of remote or hybrid work. 
  • Employers Will Subsidize Workers’ Health Plan Costs to Attract and Keep Talent
    Although health care costs will rise by an average of 5.6% in 2023, many employers plan to lower their workers’ health plan spending, either by offering a low-deductible option, “contribution banding”—which calibrates premiums to wages—or even a free (employee-only) plan option.
  • More Retirees Will Likely Return to the Workforce in 2023
    More than 3 in 10 U.S. retirees say they’ll rejoin the workforce if inflation continues to devour their nest eggs—provided they can score flexible schedules or fully remote gigs. In fact, 2% more seniors are now in the workforce than in 2020. Déjà vu all over again?   
  • Employers Will Continue to Prioritize Cybersecurity in 2023
    As cyber threats grow more targeted and personalized, employers will continue to ramp up cybersecurity initiatives. They won’t be confined to building firewalls and protocols, but training workers to identify phishing emails—which pose a huge risk—and learning to identify deepfakes. Another key issue to work on: protecting HR data.   
  • Employers’ 2023 Cybersecurity Efforts Will Extend to Mobile Devices
    Wrong numbers aren’t just annoying, they’re potentially dangerous. Cybercriminals are now targeting workers’ smartphones—looking, among other things, for corporate info stored on their devices. Not only will employers develop policies to prevent this practice, they’ll be training staff to recognize CEO text fraud. This growing scam involves spoofing business leaders’ phones to trick employees into transferring unauthorized funds.
  • Companies Will Continue to Seek Solutions to Supply Chain Disruption
    It’s not over ’til it’s over—and the country’s supply chain issues, while improving, aren’t over. For example, a recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) survey revealed that 78% of manufacturing leaders identified supply chain disruption as their current No. 1 business challenge. In 2023, companies will continue to diversify their supplier options and seek other solutions. 
  • Employers Are Bracing for a Severe Flu Season in 2023
    As if COVID-19 weren’t enough, U.S. health experts are predicting a tough flu season.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that employers develop a multiprong flu policy that includes:
    • Educating workers.
    • Promoting vaccination.
    • Encouraging good hygiene. 
    • Adopting rigorous workplace cleaning standards. 
  • Employers Will Keep Expanding Mental Health Benefits
    Many employers are expanding mental health benefits in 2023, especially telehealth services—a move that benefits employers as well as employees. Not surprisingly, employers continue to rank health care as their most important employee benefit, followed by retirement and leave offerings.
  • Employers Will Prioritize Leadership in 2023
    Watch out, C-suiters: Your company may be poised to rethink its leadership team. According to a recent Gartner survey, 2023’s top HR priority is improving leader and manager effectiveness. If you excel at “human leadership”—i.e., displaying authenticity, empathy and the ability to adapt—this may be your moment.
  • Employers Plan to Invest in New HR Technology in 2023
    In the quest for more advanced HR tech, 54% of large employees are planning to increase their 2023 HR software spending by an average of 21%. Their focus: recruiting, online learning and analytics software. Next up: upgrade payroll, time and attendance, and analytics software over the next 2 years. Tip: If you manage an hourly workforce, here’s a helpful way to start your search. 
  • More Employers to Boost Their Diversity Focus in 2023, But …
    The good news: 90% of companies have diversity goals for 2023.
    The bad news: About half of them don’t hold their leadership accountable for results.
    More bad news: Some experts find that AI-powered recruiting tools designed to promote diversity actually backfire, due to flaws in program design.
    The takeaway: We still have a ways to go when it comes to true diversity in the workplace. 
  • Environmental Sustainability: More Companies Leaning Green in 2023
    The corporate focus on sustainability will continue to grow in 2023. However, experts warn that those taking green pledges better deliver on them. Customers, investors and even employees will be watching closely for faking it—aka“greenwashing.”  

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