Research & Thought Leadership

2023 in review: Top 6 insights for HR and L&D leaders

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Top insights of 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we look back on the learnings of the last 12 months, reflecting on yet another year of rapid and continual change.

At Hult EF, we have been listening closely to your feedback and assessing your interest in insights, research and debates. Now, we want to share and summarize the year’s topics of highest importance to you, our community of change-makers.

2023 in review image

#1: Human decision-making is more valuable than ever in a world of AI

Without a doubt, generative AI – particularly ChatGPT – has been the biggest celebrity of 2023. Across industries and career types, the same question has been on everyone’s lips; ‘How does this affect my job?’

While AI has been around for decades, the availability of generative AI has put automatable tasks in the spotlight. But which elements of leadership and decision-making are not ‘automatable’?

In our insights piece, 'What’s left for the human leader in a world of AI?', we took a journey with Hult EF expert faculty to explore what the future of leadership looks like. The discoveries were enlightening and definitive: AI is the ultimate assistant for leaders, but human qualities are vital for decision-making. To harness big data and empower your teams with AI, key qualities such as communication, collaboration, and creativity must take a central role.

Even more significantly, this suggests that human intelligence will in fact become a rich currency in a world of AI, being the grounding force to humanize data-driven decision-making.

#2: The gender gap is widening in English proficiency globally

Historically, women have typically reached higher language proficiency levels on average in comparison to men. However, our annual EPI (English Proficiency Index) report, the largest English test in the world with over two million global participants, shows this trend has flipped on its head, particularly in the past year.

What does this say about gender equality in education and in the workplace? And what are the consequences of low English proficiency, in and out of the workplace? Critical topics surrounding its impact on DEIB and more we will continue to investigate in 2024.

#3: Language training improves confidence and employability

Intuitively, we know that language and communication are foundational skills for success in all types of work. But, after three years of analysis on our large-scale language training program in Rwanda in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Mastercard Foundation, we now have (growing) data to support this too.

Over 10,000 learners have so far taken part in the English language and communication program in Rwanda, and a survey of participants demonstrated a significant rise in confidence around communication, as well as improved opportunities such as promotions or even new business ventures.

#4: Employee performance depends on their well-being

As well as demonstrating the tangible ROI of workplace well-being – measured largely in retention and reduced absences – this piece also debates the harder-to-calculate performance benefits thanks to employee well-being. The article argues that coaching helps people develop human qualities that are vital for nurturing self-care. With higher well-being leading to higher profitability, this is advice that is well worth acting upon.

#5: Cultural diversity in the workplace increases ROI

Many highly skilled professionals are now choosing to search for opportunities abroad, but employers are struggling to access this talent pool due to lack of language training and DEIB strategies. Yet, the value of an integrated multicultural workforce is undeniable: businesses with more diversity in their executive teams are 33% more likely to see above-average profits. This article explores this need for diversity in detail, and how you can enable a culturally diverse workforce.

This year our community also took an interest in how to become a intercultural leader, further demonstrating the need and growth in this area.

#6: Overly resilient leadership can be toxic

Resilience is a key quality for leaders and change-makers everywhere. However, further study this year has uncovered a danger-area in resilient leadership: toxic resilience. Characterized by the tendency to take everything on their own shoulders, leaders displaying toxic resilience typically lack in ‘self-leadership’, creating an environment in which their team does not feel emotionally supported or safe to fail. This study of this trait reveals how leaders must also practice self-care to ensure their own and their team’s well-being.

Thank you, change-makers, for your invaluable input and unwavering interest in the topics that matter this past year.

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