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What HR and Recruitment are Talking About in March 2023

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HR trending topics in March 2023

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As we race towards closing out the first quarter for 2023, you’d be forgiven for feeling like you blinked and missed it. However, the HR trends for this month are not so new and quick. Instead, they show foundations in areas that have been a long-standing focus for all HR professionals. Organisations are still firmly focused on recruitment and retention. 

Topics like “embracing equity” (the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day) and the two-way impact of digital skills talk to recruitment strategies. Other trending topics like workplace coaching and reassessing meeting culture will help HR professionals find powerful retention strategies. 

Read on to learn more about the top five HR and recruitment trends for March 2023 and how to implement them in your workplace. 

Embracing equity on International Women's Day

#1 Embracing equity on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a day to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women around the world. Organisations use this time of year to ramp up initiatives promoting workplace diversity and inclusion.

This year, the campaign theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) is #EmbracingEquity. “People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.” 

For organisations to truly “embrace equity”, they can look internally to improve processes such as recruitment.

How to embrace equity in the workplace

An article published by CEO Monthly includes tips for “championing diversity within teams”. One tip is to stamp out bias within the recruitment process. Unconscious bias is common, and recognising it is the first step to stopping it.

A good way to do this is to embrace blind hiring. This is where all identifying information such as name, pronouns, social media handles, marital status, age and location are removed from a CV to reduce bias in decision-making. This promotes inclusivity and diversity and ensures people are hired solely for their skills and aptitude.

Another way to achieve diversity in the hiring process is to create a talent pool of former employees or candidates who previously were not suitable for a role. Recruiters and talent acquisition specialists can then filter the pool by specific roles.

The theme of embracing equity is also seen in the UN Women’s topic for this year’s IWD: ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’. 

At Xref, we are proud of our women in tech and are fortunate to have strong female representation across senior positions. The team has some excellent advice for women starting their careers in tech.

Amy Cotterill, Client Development at Xref sharing quote for International Women's Day
“Be out there, don’t be shy. Get your work to be known and be proud of what you do.”

- Karina Guerra – GM Customer Intelligence and Marketing

“Be strong and advocate for yourself. Take risks and support other women.”

- Sangeeta Sharma, Test Analyst

Embracing equity is more than achieving gender equality. It’s about recognising that we do not start from the same place – we have different backgrounds and lived experiences. Organisations must first acknowledge this and then strive for fairness wherever they can.

Tips for improving the probation period

#2 Getting the probation period right

So, you’ve done all the hard work hiring the right candidate through a strong recruitment process, including a good interview to reference checks and solid onboarding. Next, you must navigate the probationary period. 

A probation period in an employment sense is typically a three to six month period at the beginning of an employee’s tenure with an organisation. It allows both the employee and employer to understand if they have the right experience and if exciting work is being provided. 

It allows the employee to see if the role is for them and for the employer to understand if that person has the right skills and experience to complete the tasks associated with the job.

However, an article by iHR Australia suggests that the probation period is often underutilised. While the article isn’t clear why this is the case, it does provide some tips for ensuring that both employee and employer get the most out of the probation period. 

  1. Ensure you have a strong induction process

Starting a new role can be daunting, so a strong induction process or program makes your new employee feel more comfortable and can get them up to speed more quickly. 

However, watch out for intensive induction processes that are too much for line managers to complete. 

iHR advises that a successful induction process should have a clear beginning, middle and end: an introductory section, a mid-way review and then a final decision. The mid or halfway review allows you to make changes based on the new employee’s performance and provide feedback. 

  1. Remember that probation is a two-way street

As discussed, while monitoring a new employee’s performance during this time is essential, it is also the organisation’s responsibility to ensure current staff make the new person feel welcome and that the company values and acceptable behaviours are demonstrated to help guide the new employee.

  1. Set new employees up for success

While it can be tempting to throw a new employee into the deep end to see just how much they know, this may not be the best way to see them thrive. Take the time to help them find their feet. Before too long, you’ll be surprised at what they can achieve.

Probation periods serve an important purpose: to ensure that a new employee is suited to the role. The more structure, support, and feedback that can be provided in the probation period, the more likely the new employee will thrive in the company long-term.

Why workplace coaching is important

#3 Coaching in the workplace

In the probation period, it’s common for coaching to take place because we want our people to succeed. But what happens when they have passed probation and are a fully functioning team member? 

This recent article by HR Leader speaks about how coaching is crucial to HR professionals, but many of the points can be applied to all roles. 

Coaching in the workplace is similar to mentorship, however, it may be more informal than a mentee/mentor relationship. 

One area where HR professionals can benefit from coaching is when having difficult conversations. With coaching, an HR professional can reach conclusions more effectively. 

It should also be noted that coaching on the topic of difficult conversations should happen before and after a difficult conversation occurs. This is so the HR professional knows how to approach the situation and then gains feedback on what went well and what can be improved for the future. 

A key piece to effective coaching is emotional intelligence, the article claims. If the person receiving coaching is distracted, they may not be as open to coaching at that time, and it may not be as effective. 

Another article by HR Executive suggests that coaching is critical today because hybrid working requires a different style of leadership than what worked pre-pandemic.

Years ago, coaching tended to occur when there was a problem – for example, when an employee’s performance wasn’t up to scratch, or they had interpersonal issues. Today, however, coaching is necessary for empowering and engaging workers. In fact, a coaching culture can lead to higher productivity and performance and better customer service, the article claims.

When it comes to fostering a coaching culture in the workplace, an article in Forbes shares some good tips:

  • Establish regular one-on-ones: Create a routine “safe space” where the person being coached can have the full attention of their coach and engage in in-depth discussions.
  • Build relationships, then skill sets: Focus on building trust and confidence by actively listening and asking questions before suggesting a path forward.
  • Leverage key coaching skills in every interaction: Coaching skills like active listening, asking open questions, displaying empathy, acknowledging contributions, and providing feedback can transform a workplace culture over time.

At Xref, we offer coaching to all our people in informal settings to help them grow and expand their skills and capabilities. This is usually done by a senior manager providing guidance to a direct report. It can also happen in the form of cross-coaching at the same level, with two people sharing tips for better future outcomes. 

Like mentorship, coaching has the potential to encourage retention within a workplace as your talent can grow in their roles and develop new skills.

Digital skills benefit employers and employees

#4 Recognising the two-way impact of digital skills

As more businesses move to the cloud, digital skills are in high demand to support organisations with digital transformation. 

According to an article by Human Resources Director (HRD), the benefits of digital transformation are two-way. It boosts gross domestic product (GDP) and higher employer revenue, but employees also reap the rewards of higher job satisfaction and pay.

The article references a survey conducted by Gallup in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The survey looked at 30,000 workers with internet access across 19 countries to study the momentum of digital transformation and how it benefits employers and employees alike. Below are five key takeaways.

  1. Digital workers contribute billions of dollars to GDP – this means digital workers can positively impact national and global economies
  2. Advanced digital workers enjoy greater job satisfaction than those with “basic” digital skills
  3. Organisations that rely on digital skills tended to significantly outperform non-digital peers
  4. Finding the digital skills employers are looking for isn’t always easy, but attracting the right skillset will help them gain a significant advantage
  5. Employers expect emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (and ChatGPT) to become fixtures in their business

So what can employers do to maximise the two-way impact of digital skills?

The HRD article suggests upskilling with micro-credentials. These are typically six to eight-week programs designed to upskill employees in areas that are complementary to their current roles. 

Industry micro-credentials are emerging as the latest upskilling preference for employers as they lean into skills-based hiring

This trend of recognising that advanced digital skills have two-way benefits for employees and employers will support organisations in their goals for tech advancement. If hiring strong tech talent is challenging, there is always room to explore talent internally and develop skills for employees. In turn, this fuels strong retention for organisational success.

How to revamp meeting culture

 #5 Revamping meeting culture 

Since 2020, it’s no surprise the number of workplace meetings has increased. The shift to remote or hybrid work has meant colleagues need to stay in touch, and the fast-evolving nature of the pandemic meant meetings were required to keep up with change. 

This recent article by LinkedIn explores how meetings are on the rise, despite global disdain, and offers tips to revamp your meeting culture for effective meetings. These tips include: 

  1. Understand your current meeting culture

First, find out how much time employees at your organisation spend in meetings. Then explore:

  • Who attends? Are they 1-1 or team meetings? Does one department meet more than others, or are they cross-departmental meetings?
  • What day and time are they held? What is the average length?
  • Are they spontaneous or pre-scheduled?
  • Are they characterised as useful or unnecessary? 

These questions can help you understand where to focus your efforts.

  1. Create policies for better meeting culture and get managers on board

Develop a meeting policy or recommendations for more effective meetings and ensure your managers are on board. 

Some suggestions include:

  • Meeting free days
  • Limit the length of meetings or limit when meetings can occur - for example, only in the morning
  • Limit the number of attendees
  • Keep group chats specific
  • Have meeting agendas and provide meeting notes
  1. Empower colleagues to skip or cancel meetings

The article found 71% of employees felt empowered to skip unnecessary meetings if meeting notes were shared. Similarly, meeting hosts can be encouraged to ask, “is this meeting necessary?” and “are all the attendees required?” 

Another suggestion is to create a chat channel designed for the sole purpose of providing quick updates. Instead of a standup meeting - attendees could provide their one top priority for the day and any roadblocks. 

  1. Ensure that meetings that do occur are valuable

Meetings are unavoidable, but ensuring they are practical and valuable is important. Have a clear meeting purpose that is well-defined in advance. It helps to have one person lead the meeting to ensure things run smoothly and all voices are heard. Always finish the meeting by outlining the next steps and assigning action items or follow-up tasks. 

The article concludes by stating that a better meeting culture is suitable for your workforce and your bottom line. While it may take some time to change an ingrained meeting culture, if it does need a review, improving meetings can have a significant positive impact. 


Last month, trending HR topics revolved around the importance of fostering inclusivity and engagement in the workplace post-pandemic. In March 2023, there is a strong focus on encouraging recruitment and retention.  

International Women’s Day reminds us to “embrace equity” in the workplace to boost recruitment and retention efforts. 

Getting the probation period right is about confidence in your hires to retain them and ensure a strong career with your organisation. 

Leaders must be trained on how to coach their team members to encourage high performance and boost retention. 

Digital skilling is both a recruitment and retention trend as organisations understand that the benefits are twofold; both employers and employees benefit from digital advancements.

Finally, revamping meeting culture has a strong connection to retention, where less time wasted makes employees feel like they have an impact and can complete tasks without barriers. 

While these topics are fresh and trending, they are founded in traditional HR topics. These trends show us that HR professionals are increasingly focused on the full lifecycle of the talent journey, recognising the power of strong recruitment and retention for better organisational outcomes. 

To learn more about the HR and recruitment trends of 2023, check out the key HR and recruitment trends for February 2023.

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