What business leaders are spending more on in 2023—and where they are cutting back


By Megan Morrone

With a slumping economy and a brutal slew of tech layoffs in 2022, many executives are looking to tighten spending in 2023, while others are spending money to scoop up all the great talent now flooding the market and looking for work.

As next year’s budgets take shape, Fast Company asked several business leaders to share what they plan to spend more on in the upcoming year—and where they are cutting back. Their answers reveal a lot about where their business priorities lie. Hint: Expect more business trips and off-sites in next year—but right about now might be the time to start fearing the robots stealing your jobs. (I know I’m scared.) 

If the 2020s have taught us anything so far, the next 12 months will be a wild ride, and your guess is as good as mine as to what’s going to happen. But these executives in charge of big budgets had to make their guesses, and here’s what they’ve decided to spend and save on in 2023. 

These responses have been edited for length.

Come together . . . right now

Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce Service Cloud

In 2023, we are doubling down on in-person time with our customers and teams in our regional hubs around the world, from San Francisco and Boston to Tel Aviv, Paris, and Sydney. We are also investing in training and supporting our teams, especially frontline managers, on how to manage hybrid and distributed employees. We are cutting back on the number of meetings by leaning into workflow automation, AI, and digital collaboration with Slack.

Scott Smith, director, Cerulli Associates

We are reorienting our travel plans around key industry conferences attended by many clients rather than one-off client visits. In addition, we have shifted the focus of our in-office time around collaborative rather than solitary activity. Often we learn together better, but work better alone. For the foreseeable future, navigating a hybrid office environment is going to be an ongoing experiment with ever-changing variables.    

Lauren Newton, VP of people and operations, Medium

We’ll likely dial up spending on things like company off-sites and occasional in-person coworking days. After nearly three years of remote work, we are finally starting to think about how often we come together in person and how we create space to reconnect in real life, off the screen. 

Paul Roberts, founder and CEO, Kubient

In 2023 we will look to increase our conference and travel budgets since there is a lot of pent-up demand for in-person meetings post COVID-19. We also plan to increase headcount budget due to so many layoffs in the industry, resulting in some great talent coming into the market.

Focus on talent

Jim Bartolomea, SVP, global head of people, ClickUp

I’m investing in perks and benefits that are more equitable across all different employee types, regardless of location. For example, everyone can take advantage of a monthly wellness stipend, whereas an on-site workout facility only benefits employees in a specific location.

What business leaders are spending more on in 2023—and where they are cutting back

John Lofton Holt, executive chairman, Alphawave IP

Given the uncertain macroeconomic outlook, and acknowledging the difficult inflationary environment, we’re adopting a conservative spending approach in 2023. We’re primarily spending on our people—who are our most valuable asset—as well as infrastructure that will drive more efficient business processes and IT systems. 

Katharine Zaleski, cofounder and president, PowerToFly 

Leaders with budget will tell you that spending on talent is still paramount in or out of a downturn. And history shows that companies that focus on retaining their best talent while focusing on research and development as well as enhancing client relationships are the ones that win in the long run.

Growing the business without growing the workforce 

Diogo Rau, EVP and chief information and digital officer, Eli Lilly and Co.

While other companies may be cutting their budgets or workforce, that is not the approach we are taking at Lilly. We will continue to invest and spend on technology—but do so with a very specific purpose. We are very focused on investing in technology to grow Lilly’s business without growing the workforce. Our key underlying strategy is to leverage the power of automation across the enterprise to grow our digital human equivalent workforce. By growing our investments in AI, machine learning, natural language generation, computer vision, robotic process automation, chatbots and more, we have already built a Lilly-wide digital workforce equivalent to 500 human workers, freeing up our human workforce to focus on high-value work. 

Karl Mattson, chief information security officer, Noname Security

Going into 2023, we’re targeting small, smart investments in automation to enable the security team to continue to flex for capacity, but without adding too much new staff. Talent is at a premium, so we need to make each person more productive and ease the pressure of manual processes or non-value-add work. We won’t be cutting budgets, but we’re focused on maximizing existing investments to get more from our current technologies. 

Fast Company