9 February 2023

2023 predictions: Employee Experience takes the lead

2023 is set to be a fantastic year for McCann Synergy. Newly promoted heads-of, Joe and Rika, kick us off with their employee experience predictions.

On the back of a brilliant 12 months in 2022, and as a definite sign of great things ahead, come two internal promotions worth shouting about: Rika Banerji is our new Head of Consultancy, and Joe Hoppard our new Head of Strategy.

They share a little more about themselves at the bottom of this article, but next up are their trends and predictions for our hottest topic of 2023: Employee Experience.

1. Would you say Employee Experience (EX) is having a moment right now?


We think EX has come of age. 

It’s been accepted for a while that employee engagement is one of the best ways to generate sustainable growth without increasing spend on headcount. Now, EX is gradually taking centre-stage as a key driver of that engagement.

We’re seeing a UK talent market which increasingly expects consumer-grade experiences at work. In those sectors where employees can have their pick of employer, frictionless, delightful EX has become a key point of difference.


With the huge and varied range of environmental factors at play, the war for talent is fiercer than ever. Employees’ expectations are changing as GenZ makes up a growing proportion of the global workforce (30% by 2030). 

A salary, the occasional promotion and a few meagre benefits are not enough, because employees want more than a job and financial security. People want to feel cared for and treated fairly by employers that respect them as equals, offer flexibility and prioritise mental wellbeing. 

They want to feel connected to a company, and invested in its purpose. They want to see organisations take a stand on societal issues plaguing the world. They want efficient systems and processes that enable them to do their best work.

All of these factors contribute to the employee experience, and in the competition for the right people with the right skills, experience matters more than ever.

2. What implications does this EX groundswell have for employers?


Talking to our clients across different industries, one thing is clear: the employee experience is now a global business imperative. How effectively an organisation can mobilise its people has a direct impact on business performance.

 The war for talent is real and the world of work will increasingly be driven by the demands and expectations of desired talent. We’re seeing how the transactional nature of the relationship between employer and employee can end in ‘workplace divorce’ and voluntary resignations. 

Organisations who fail to listen to changing expectations, or are slow to invest in efforts to enhance the employee experience, will pay the price. 

3. What are your predictions for how organisations respond to the Employee Experience imperative?
PREDICTION 01 – We’ll see more formalised Employee Experience teams and structures


Until now many of our clients have had the benefit of one or two evangelists, usually within HR, driving the Employee Experience agenda for their business. 

For 2023 we see a trend of larger organisations formalising their approach to EX, establishing dedicated EX teams comprised of experts in the field, responsible for understanding, and finding solutions to barriers for optimal Employee Experience.

While typically sitting within HR, these teams align with many other areas of expertise:

  • Business Intelligence or People Analytics for listening and insights
  • IT for tech activation
  • Leadership Development for its influence on Culture
  • and Brand and Communications for the physical and virtual environment.

Everything starts with a nuanced understanding of where the biggest opportunities for influence are, and the quality of the experience we deliver within those moments. 

That’s how companies will carve out a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the people they need.

PREDICTION 02 – Employee Experience investment will (still) be business critical


In a recession, affected companies may slow investments in EX, and that’s a grave mistake. Remember, the demands and expectations of your top talent have changed. Couple that with job and financial insecurities at the time of recession and your people productivity could plummet without the right strategy. 

Focus on flexible work schedules, supporting holistic wellbeing, modernising and digitising workplace systems and practices – these are the need of the hour to improve employee morale and productivity, and retain your competitive advantage.

Prioritising strategic EX creatively, and in a cost-efficient way, will help you ensure that your people can continue delivering their best work. That’s why it needs to be at the top of every business agenda – it has the potential to unlock business performance, even in a downturn. 

PREDICTION 03 – Culture will be the primary battleground in the war for talent (and leaders will be crucial)


A positive culture is a huge business advantage, helping to attract and retain the very best talent (and customers). Today’s most successful organisations are investing in creating great cultures designed specifically around improving the lived experiences of their employees, based on where they are in the world and the macro-cultures they operate within. 

The building and shaping of a desired company culture is not a one-off event or project, and is certainly not a one-size-fits-all. Rather, it’s a localised and continuously evolving process that requires ongoing focus and maintenance. As companies consider increasing investment in culture, it’s important to be aware of potential issues that may arise due to intercultural nuances and differences. It’s all part of the picture.

And at an interpersonal level, there is a real need to humanise the employee-manager relationship. Managers have the ability to power their peoples’ passion, purpose and productivity by their words and actions. Organisations will need to quickly train managers and leaders to become better people leaders who look after their people, approach relationships with kindness, compassion and collaboration, and foster that positive culture in all they do.


There’s a broad recognition that virtual and physical environments, systems and processes, and key dimensions of culture (like behaviours and rituals), have a substantial impact on employee engagement. Now people are starting to make the connection between EX and the bottom line, we’ll start to see even more investment in these areas.

We’ve seen reports from Gartner that HR Leaders are prioritising Leadership Development moving into 2023. We often start with Leadership when addressing Culture, and I consider driving a more fruitful, rewarding, or high-performing Culture to be one of the main motivations behind prioritising Leadership Development. 

PREDICTION 04 – In the race to up- and reskill, L&D is paramount


The L&D focus may start with leaders where Culture is concerned, but the overall skills conversation is going to be much bigger. As demand for scarce critical IT skills grows, businesses will invest heavily in developing skills in-house that they can’t find in the talent market.

Despite the impending recession, we see a widening gap between supply and demand talent, particularly for highly technical skills. These in-demand employees are also less likely to stay for long periods of time with any one employer than in years past (CIPD research shows that average UK employee tenure is the lowest in all OECD countries at approximately 1.6 years), and so carefully the value each short stay will add to their overall employability. 

Employers will increasingly need to add perceived value to their Employer Brand by investing in L&D if they’re going to drive attraction.

PREDICTION 05 – The gig economy could be a valuable asset


Upskilling and/ or reskilling talent is a business imperative especially given the skills-gap and the stiff competition for professionals with in-demand skills. Where up- or reskilling at the necessary pace or scale isn’t possible, we’ll see more organisations factoring the gig economy into their talent landscape.

Research from the World Economic Forum (WEF) finds that half of all employees around the world need to upskill or reskill by 2025 to embrace new responsibilities driven by automation and new technologies. 

However, if you’re unable to plug the skills-gap with training in the short term, embrace the gig economy! The population of gig workers around the world has risen. There are talented, skilled workers out there, sometimes available on-demand. If organisations learn how to better onboard, manage, collaborate and engage them, they get the advantage of hiring a wide range of expertise from a global pool of diverse candidates.


Those predictions again:

  • We’ll see more formalised Employee Experience teams and structures
  • Employee Experience investment will (still) be business critical
  • Culture will be the primary battleground in the war for talent (and leaders will be crucial)
  • In the race to up- and reskill, L&D is paramount
  • The gig economy could be a valuable asset

Where will 2023 take us? Watch this space.


Introducing our new Consulting Suite 

In an ever-changing world where businesses are in constant need to grow and adapt, employee experience is now a global strategic imperative. Sustainable business growth depends on cultivating your culture and leadership – long-term engagement is business-critical.

We’ve extended our consultancy offering to provide the new, full-service McCann Synergy Consulting Suite where our specialist consultants and talented creatives offer trusted advice, creative ideas and support driving change.

Find out more



Rika Banerji, Head of Consultancy

Our people unleashing the power of your people

Rika is passionate about unlocking potential for businesses by unleashing their greatest asset: their people. Employees, more than ever before, are seeking meaning, purpose and fulfilment at work, and it is Rika’s personal mission to help our clients maximise the advantage of alignment between the needs of a business and the needs of its people.

Rika has over 10 years of multi-sector, in-house and agency experience in brand, communications and employee experience across 13 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia. As a trusted advisor to our clients and with insight into cultures across the globe, Rika aims to understand core business objectives, interrogates the challenge, dissects barriers impeding progress and offers impactful people solutions that drive organisational success.

Joe Hoppard, Head of Strategy

Our people unleashing the power of your people

Joe is driven by a fundamental belief that business is better for everyone when people are happy, healthy, and engaged. His personal mission is to help our clients understand complex organisational challenges and inspire teams towards delivering highly effective solutions. 

Joe steps into the Head of Strategy role at McCann Synergy with 12 years’ network agency experience as an award-winning strategist and team leader. Having worked for some of the world’s biggest brands, he brings a breadth of theoretical and practical expertise to bear when working with our clients across Culture, EX, Transformation, and Performance. 

With a focus on effectiveness, Joe’s short-term goal is to help improve measurement across all client work to better demonstrate return on investment, and help our clients win a few awards along the way.

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