More than a quarter of UK organisations say they are likely to make redundancies in 2023, according to new research from a leading HR consultant.
As the UK experiences evolving economic problems, organisations are having to tighten their belts, with half expecting to cut costs this year. These cuts are inevitably spilling into employee packages, with 29 per cent of firms likely to reduce benefits and 27 per cent likely to freeze pay in 2023.
However, one of the most significant impacts is those which will affect hiring practices. In contrast to the buoyant job market of the past couple of years, 37 per cent of organisations are reducing recruitment while 26 per cent say they are likely to make redundancies this year.
These findings from the HR consultancy Ayming UK, are in line with the growing reports of redundancies, particularly among large technology firms.
Ayming UK partner Scott Ward (pictured) said: “This reflects a significant shift in the employee-employer relationship. Whereas 2022 saw employees in an unusual position of power as firms battled for talent, 2023 is seeing a reversal of this dynamic.
“This puts employers on a collision course with their staff. The job buoyancy of the last two years means employees expect more money and a better work-life balance. But the downturn in the job market makes it harder for those expectations to match up to the reality.”
Beyond cost cutting, automation is also playing a role in the shake-up of the employment landscape, especially with the recent launch of artificial intelligence like Chat GPT. According to the research, 30 per cent of organisations expect to introduce AI / automation that will replace jobs in 2023.
The case for a four-day week was already strong, but AI could really seal the deal for workers and trigger a widespread transition to a shorter work week
Ward added: “Artificial Intelligence is starting to have a tangible impact. Chat GPT has already been a force for disruption, but that will likely accelerate as businesses learn how to harness it. Although this might contribute to redundancies in some areas, it could equally improve work life, making tasks more efficient and allowing people to focus on more rewarding work.”
AI’s ability to improve productivity could also strengthen the case for a four-day work week, which has gathered momentum recently following the success of several pilot projects.
Ayming’s research finds that almost two thirds (64%) of organisations support a four-day week. However, this will inevitably increase if AI allows people to do the same amount of work in fewer hours.
“The case for a four-day week was already strong, but AI could really seal the deal for workers and trigger a widespread transition to a shorter work week,” he said. “Although there is some level of anxiety about AI’s impact on labour needs, I’m confident job roles will adapt, and automation will take on a lot of the more mundane tasks that people currently have to do.
“That said, people need to be aware that there are a lot of questions on how a four-day week would work in practice. Perhaps most importantly, there will be an inevitable trade off with the flexibility that many now depend on.”
As well as support for the four-day work week, organisations are increasingly open to new ideas. Many are reviewing working practices and introducing a range of initiatives that intend to help people overcome modern challenges and find purpose. 73 per cent of firms support the introduction of volunteer programmes, 72 per cent support providing financial guidance to help employees manage the cost-of-living crisis, 72 per cent are in favour of offering childcare solutions, 70 per cent support providing therapy for employees, and 63 per cent even support helping employees onto the property ladder.
The survey involved 200 senior HR, Learning and Development leaders in the UK between January 23 and 27. Respondents were all at CXO, director or head of department level, and evenly split across small and larger companies. Four sectors are represented: IT and tech, construction and civil engineering, professional services, and the public sector. Each sector represents 25 per cent of total survey respondents.