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What Aussie businesses should expect in 2023: burnout, skill shortages, and overseas WFH

This past year has been a bumpy road for many businesses, and as employees shift their priorities from surviving to thriving in the workplace, Australian companies must maintain best practices to retain a highly skilled workforce.

Jonathan Perumal, Country Manager, ANZ at Safeguard Global, shares the six considerations for businesses as they move into the new year, predicting that employee burnout, skills shortages, and an increased interest in flexible and asynchronous working, will continue to drive HR and employment trends.

1. Increase in burnout will see businesses rethink policies

“Research shows there are higher levels of burnout in Australia compared with other countries, with 62% of employees and 66% of managers reporting they feel burnt out at work, compared with a global average of 48% and 53%, according to Microsoft’s latest Work Trends Index. With this continued issue, we expect to see businesses shake up their workplace policies to better support employee wellness. For example, Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, has successfully trialled a 4-day working week in New Zealand and is now conducting a one-year trial in Australia to give workers more flexibility and a better work/life balance, in an effort to boost wellbeing and reduce stress. It’s likely we’ll see more businesses adopt new policies and initiatives like this to mitigate the risk of burnout and better support their employees.”

2. Digital nomad trend will provide greater flexibility for employees

“Since international travel opened up, many Australians are exploring options for living and working overseas, seeking a change of scene and better work/life balance. As companies adjust to this new working environment, there’s a rise in digital nomad programs, from both companies and countries seeking to draw digital nomads. For example, in addition to its general remote work policy, Atlassian is implementing a new program that allows any employee to temporarily work anywhere outside their home location for 90 days per year, which is appealing to employees who are interested in living a more ‘nomadic’ lifestyle, but still want to maintain a stable career. In 2023, we expect to see more companies introduce digital nomad or ‘radical flexibility’ policies.”

3. Businesses will leverage worker classification to their benefit

“Approximately 250,000 Australians are now part of the gig economy with some workers not necessarily wanting a full-time role with one employer – instead seeking greater work flexibility. Gig work is not a trendline unique to Australians. This means businesses should be open to hiring under different worker classifications globally. Some are looking to build specific skillsets, grow professionally, or prefer a diversity of projects. With the support of a global employer of record, companies can hire highly skilled labor from anywhere in the world as part-time or contract roles to support specific projects and initiatives without incurring the overheads associated with a full-time employee – or misclassification risk.”

4. ‘Stay interviews’ and upskilling opportunities will be crucial to retention


“Often businesses will wait until an employee resigns before conducting an in depth ‘exit interview’. Unnecessary exits might be avoided if businesses regularly interview their current employees to gauge their overall job satisfaction and morale. As well as ensuring any specific issues are dealt with, these interviews can help to surface areas of interest, where training and upskilling opportunities could be identified to ensure continued growth and professional development.”

5. Employment regulations and tax obligations won’t prevent hiring internationally or supporting digital nomads

“RSM Australia recently released a report highlighting tax obligations could be a potential issue for businesses when hiring overseas. Other concerns include employment benefits, payroll compliance and on the ground support. To help streamline the process and avoid headaches, companies will work with a global employer of record partner that has in-country teams with knowledge of local laws and regulations to meet their employment and tax obligations. Rather than navigating unwanted complications, and paying hefty fines, businesses will focus on maximising the benefits of hiring the best global talent and providing an optimal Work in Any Way experience for employees, wherever they are.”

6. Performance and productivity measurements will need to evolve

“While businesses may be concerned about remote workers’ productivity, it’s important for workplace policies to adapt as working norms change. Measuring success shouldn’t be about the number of hours an employee is online or in the office, it should be based on their outputs and achievements. Having an open mindset will allow both the employees and the business to grow, and help to tackle the issues of quiet quitting and cyber loafing.”


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