Over the next year, B2B firms will have the opportunity to snatch up some of the best tech professionals on the market. Even smaller players without the same resources as bigger companies can scoop up the best talent if they offer the right environment.
In 2023, I predict a surge of tech professionals will join the B2B market, improving user experiences and in-house digital transformation dramatically. Those that don’t up their tech game could fall dangerously behind.
1 | A surge of tech professionals will enter the B2B market
As we enter 2023, a wave of highly skilled tech professionals will be looking for new opportunities. This is the result of the current macroeconomic climate and post-pandemic tech layoffs. So far, we’ve seen Meta axe 11,000 employees. Under Elon Musk’s new management, Twitter has also made 3,700 people redundant. Meanwhile the likes of Stripe, Lyft and Salesforce are following suit. As tech firms move into survival mode, more employees could find themselves out of a role.
In many ways, this was inevitable: the unprecedented increased consumer demand for e-commerce was always going to slow down after the lockdown ended, while high inflation has dampened consumer spending further. As major tech firms sink back to 2019 growth levels, swathes of workers will be laid off.
Although this may sound gloomy, it could be great news for small to medium sized B2B firms, who, in the past, may have struggled to compete for engineering talent with tech giants. By bringing on talented and highly skilled tech professionals, businesses can increase their organisation’s tech capabilities and accelerate their own digital transformation.
2 | The Great Retirement will slow down… but won’t stop
For many, 2020-2021 was a period of personal enlightenment. After decades of quietly accepting long commutes and rigid conditions as part of the daily grind, millions suddenly experienced an alternative. They started to prioritise mental, physical, and even spiritual health. “Happiness” was one of the most googled words in 2020. In 2021, the trend continued with a focus on mental health and anxiety. More and more baby boomers are hitting retirement age and leaving the workforce. In November and December 2021, the US quit rate was a hefty 3%.
However, this trend – known as The Great Retirement – appears to be slowing, at least temporarily. As of July - September 2022, the US quit rate dipped to 2.7%. In the UK, the number of people resigning in autumn 2022 dropped to 365,000, down from 442,000 in summer.
As the world plunges into recession and the cost-of-living ramps up exponentially, I predict that fewer people will retire, even if they might want to. But that doesn’t mean employers are off the hook: the millions who choose to remain in the workplace will have serious structural demands.
3 | B2B Workplaces will need to adapt to post-Covid expectations
There is a lot to gain for B2B firms who get it right. 2023 provides a unique opportunity for firms to attract exceptional employees, but only if they can create attractive workplace conditions. People increasingly value flexibility, so post-covid, B2B firms should offer remote or hybrid working where possible. Other considerations include flexible hours and paternity leave, plus a focus on culture and mental health.
The latter is especially important. Today, 62% of people feel that their employer does not care about mental health. For Gen-Zs this is a deal-breaker. 99% consider mental health to be “extremely important”.
Employers are looking for new ways to connect with their workforce. A Gartner study found that 58% of US employees have new ideas about where they want to work post-COVID. Accommodating these new expectations means offices need to adapt to remote, hybrid and flexible working conditions. Crucially, they must achieve this without micromanaging.
Another important point for workplaces to consider is how they decide on employee benefits. 21% of Gen-Zs have considered leaving their companies purely because of a poor benefits package. One study encourages firms to personalise their benefits, finding that 87% of workers would like to see them more tailored around employees’ individual needs. This could range from car insurance to gym membership – it depends on the person. Firms offering this will stand out to talent in 2023.
4 | Smaller B2Bs can offer extremely competitive conditions
Although salary is important, it’s not everything. Almost half of millennials and Gen-Zs would rather walk out of a job than be unhappy in it. Further still – and crucially for B2Bs with smaller budgets – 31% of Gen-Zs would even be willing to accept slightly lower pay if it was accompanied by a better work-life balance.
So, what does happiness look like? And what can employers do to offer more of it? Of course, it’s different for everyone. But, for many, happiness means having a quality of life all year round (not just vacations), gaining rich life experiences abroad and spending precious moments with family.
Reflecting this, one interesting trend is the rise of “workcation”, or “bleisure” (part business travel, part leisure travel) trips. 75% of employees today would prefer to work from a hotel while they are abroad, rather than use up their holiday days. This gives them longer to enjoy their location, and possibly even the opportunity to move abroad for months at a time.
This could give agile and forward-thinking smaller employers an edge. After all, who wouldn’t take a slight cut if it means they can live in Italy for six months? Better still are those firms that offer excellent pay packages and the freedom to work remotely. They could benefit from extraordinary talent and retention.
5 | Firms that don’t upgrade their conditions could fall behind
Old policies and even older attitudes could be the undoing of business in 2023. It’s important to keep hold of the lessons we learned throughout the pandemic, to create flexible working conditions that allow people to better balance their personal life with their jobs.
We know that tech workers like to have the option of flexible working. According to one study, 81% of IT and telecommunications professionals wanted this – the highest of any category. However, non-tech workers with desk jobs equally desire more opportunities for flexible working.
B2B firms big and small should carefully consider how they can set up their processes, systems and workflows to allow their employees to work more flexibly. The benefit to employers goes beyond increased employee engagement and satisfaction as flexible working not only improves employee loyalty, but also productivity.
The highly skilled professionals who don’t get flexible conditions will flock to greener pastures, leaving firms stuck in the old ways of working in the digital lurch.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
There’s no denying that employees’ expectations and our ways of working are changing fast. Companies are already (successfully) trialling the four-day working week with full pay. Flexible hours and workcations are becoming more commonplace. And, as I am sure my colleagues will predict, e-commerce will be the wind behind all B2B sails (and sales) over the next few years.
Now is the moment to start creating a workplace and culture to foster this brave new world and attract talent.
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