Yesterday TLNT began its review of 2023, with some broad thoughts about what challenges could still lie ahead for HR professionals in 2024.
Today we speak to industry experts to examine specific areas we think HR practitioners will need to concentrate on:
So, without further ado – here’s what the experts say you’ll need to be thinking more about in 2024:
It’s all about AI (still)
Has it really been only a year since ChatGPT burst onto the scene?
Since hitting an unsuspecting public on 30th November 2022, it’s uptake has been nothing short of phenomenal.
The technology took just five days to reach one million users, and it now claims to have more than 100 million active weekly users – which is a growth rate that took Facebook four and a half years to hit.
Monthly visits to the ChatGPT website now top 1.5 billion, with 31% of users being in the US.
A recent survey by Statista has found that around a quarter of US companies it questioned had already saved $50,000 to $70,000 by using ChatGPT, while data also suggests around 20% of people think text presented to them by ChatGPT was written by a human.
This is a technology that just isn’t going to go away.
LinkedIn has just produced its latest ‘AI at Work’ report. It reveals:
- There has seen an 80% increase in its members watching AI-related learning courses on LinkedIn over the last three months, as well as a 60% month-over-month increase in Generative AI skills – such as Chat GPT and prompt crafting – being added to members’ profiles since January 2023.
- ‘Head of AI’ roles have tripled globally in the last five years, and job posts mentioning AI have more than doubled (2.3x).
- Four out of five business leaders think Generative AI will benefit their employees, with nearly a third (31%) saying it will create new roles at their organization.
Where will AI have most impact?
Because AI is still so new, 2024 will require HR professionals to consider its impact of workflows, headcount, and addressing employee skills gaps.
We asked a number of different key commentator to share their thoughts about what they think will be the key technology AI/HR trends for 2024.
1) Technology/AI will create the “TikTok-ification of learning”
Chris Eigeland, co-CEO and founder of Go1 says:
“As new AI technology permeates, employees are leaning towards optimism when it comes to the impact on their work and ability to learn. Our own research finds almost half (48%) of employees are open to using AI-generated learning materials or using AI tools to help them learn, while 45% of employees agree or completely agree that AI will help them develop skills needed in the workplace more quickly. In addition, using generative AI (44%) and finding information more quickly (46%) were named the top skills most needed to stay ahead of the AI curve. Younger workers are more likely to see AI as critical to their development, with around a third of Gen Z employees (31%) and millennials (31%) looking to generative AI as the only learning tools they need, compared to 18% of Gen X and 12% of Boomer employees.” He adds: “The research also revealed the influence of video-based platforms like TikTok on how employees are consuming and engaging with learning content. Short videos of less than 3 minutes (47%) and on the job training with a real-life instructor (46%) are the top learning content types, which is also consistent with the types employees like to use for learning. L&D leaders will need to find new ways to tailor content curation, development and delivery strategies to the unique learning preferences of different generations if they hope to use learning as a competitive lever and close workforce skills gaps.”
2) Technology will see HR professionals become ‘talent agents’ not ‘talent hoarders’
Melanie Lougee, head of future HR products at ServiceNow says: “In 2024, companies will use generative AI to create custom curriculums, content, and training for employees based on the skills they have, the skills they need, and their career aspirations. As self-guided careers and training become the norm, managers will evolve into “talent agents” not “talent hoarders.” This will also change how managers as evaluated – the focus will be on employee performance, growth, and mobility, not just deliverables.” Adds ServiceNow’s Gretchen Alarcon, SVP & GM of employee workflow products: “As organizations embrace skills intelligence technology, they will prioritize having a skills database that is diverse and constantly updating to understand the supply and demand of talent. They’ll use AI-powered digital platforms to understand the skills they have and need, and whether they need to build skills internally, hire to fill skills gaps, or lean into gig and contingent workers. This approach will help companies proactively address skills shortages, grow existing talent, and ultimately meet business goals.”
3) Technology will pose further risks to jobs in 2024
Andrew Hunter co-founder, Adzuna says: “AI is causing a stir as businesses explore how to use new technologies, particularly generative AI models like ChatGPT, to increase productivity, fill skills gaps, and support existing workers to do more. Skilled, white-collar workers whose jobs rely on their wealth of knowledge may be particularly at risk, with AI increasingly able to emulate responses and outputs.” He adds: “Job vacancies have fallen across the board year-on-year, but some jobs have seen larger declines that may in part be due to the increasing adoption of AI. This includes creative roles like graphic designer and writers; roles involving analyzing large datasets like data analyst and financial analyst, and administrative and secretarial roles. But despite the falling outlook in these areas, AI will also create new job opportunities for roles like prompt engineer, as companies clamor to make the most of advancements. There are also other roles where we believe society would not currently accept AI in place of humans, for example CEOs and politicians.”
4) Technology with drive consumer-like experiences at work
Sarah Tilley, SVP of global talent development and acquisition at ServiceNow says: “For years, employees have asked for consumer-like experiences at work, and many organizations have tried to keep pace; 2024 will be the year this finally takes shape. With the help of AI and other skills technology, leaders will deliver personalized learning, development, and growth experiences that are seamless, connected, and simple. Learning will be tailored to the skills an employee has and needs, and delivered to the employee at the moment they need help. But, HR leaders must strike a balance, preserving essential human interactions for sensitive topics such as career growth and leave of absences, while leveraging technology for efficiency.”
The year ahead is going to be all about retention.
2024’s top talent question is arguably this: Will they stay or will they go?
If 2022 was characterized by the ‘Great Resignation’, while 2023 has seen some label it as the ‘Great Staying Put’ (as people began to be fearful of moving to pastures new in an uncertain economy) – what can HR professionals realistically expect to see in 2024?
Well, if we look at the latest data for this year, it’s still actually been the case that a staggering 43.4% of employees quit a job in 2023.
Data from iHire.com reveals voluntary resignations increased by 5.3% from 2022 to 2023, while 73.3% of employers who experienced turnover this year attributed “all” or “most” of it to voluntary quits.
To try and find out how this trend will pan out for 2024, it polled employers about their expectations for staff for next year, and found 38.9% of employers expect employees to leave their organisation ‘within a year’.
However, everything seems to feel quite unknown at the moment.
When it also asked employees the same question, sizeable 33.4% of employed respondents were unsure how much longer they would stick around with their employer.
Also, employees actually report better job satisfaction currently – at around 56.3% – which is up a whopping 16.3% year-on-year.
Given this sometimes conflicting data, 46.9% of employers believe (or is that maybe ‘hope’) turnover will stay the same.
So – are employees really just in a holding-pen position, just waiting for the right conditions to jump ship? Or are staff really likely to stay?
Interestingly, the top reason iHire finds will be the main reason staff quit in 2024 will be down to not wanting to be in so-called ‘toxic’ or ‘negative work environments’.
Says Steve Flook, iHire’s president and CEO: “Although respondents express greater job satisfaction, today’s talent won’t hesitate to pursue a new opportunity if they believe it better aligns with their values and aspirations.”
So what else could be driving retention problems in 2024?
Return to office (RTO) mandates: Yep, all the evidence suggests they will continue to be the bane of employees’ lives. Resume Builder finds 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office-policies by the end of 2024. But according to the recently published FlexJobs’ Remote Work & RTO Pulse Report, this may not be a good idea. It finds 56% know someone who has either already quit or is contemplating quitting due to RTO mandates. Despite workers facing continued cost of living pressures, it finds 63% of employees now regard remote work was most important to them in a job, with 51% wanting to work remotely 100% of the time, and 46% preferring a hybrid arrangement. In a slap in the face to managers who want staff to be on-site, it finds 77% of employees believe they are more productive working remotely than in a traditional office.
The need for more honest feedback: Adult-to-adult conversations must come to the fore in 2024 says Katya Laviolette, chief people officer at 1Password. She says: “One of the most sought out skills in 2024 will be the ability to provide direct feedback and address conflict. Pushed to resolve issues faster amidst an ever-evolving economic and political landscape, both at the company and employee level, an emphasis on direct feedback will drive more thoughtful solutions with quicker resolutions. Different personalities and opinions are needed to power an organization, and it’s the tension of ideas and opinions that make greatness happen.”
Pay: Well it has to figure somewhere, doesn’t it? Keeping staff will necessarily come down to handing out more cold, hard cash. According to Payscale, pay increases in 2024 are predicted to be 3.8% on average in the U.S., instead of the 3% that has been the standard for decades. And it projects higher increases in some states, industries and other countries. Its data suggests 78% of employers surveyed in the US and 81% of those in Canada say that their 2024 salary increase budget is the same or higher compared to last year.
Are you well? Consider this basic question something you should be asking a lot more of your staff in 2024.
For the last three years running, Aflac’s ‘WorkForces’ report finds the biggest challenge facing benefits providers is understanding what employees want (60% now say this is their key challenge). But coming through loud and clear from staff is the fact many say they want more emphasis on wellness.
HR professionals can now become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist – which is a certified training program run by the Corporate Health & Wellness Association, but wellness is still a term that embraces many meanings, and can be influenced by everything from how organizations manage their employees’ workload, through to how purpose-driven staff think their employer is, the relationships managers have with staff; how physically healthy people are; whether they have financial worries or even if they feel socially excluded.
This latter point is particularly prescient. According to a 2023 advisory report from the US Surgeon General, something as inconsequential=sounding as poor social connectedness can increase an employee’s risk of heart disease by 29%, stroke by 32%, developing dementia by 50%, and even the risk of premature death by over 60%. Given that remote working can exacerbate feelings people have of being ‘disconnected’, the role employers have in their people’s wellbeing is clear.
According to the 2024 ‘State of Work-Life Wellness’ report by Gympass:
- 96% of workers say they will ONLY consider companies that place a clear emphasis on wellbeing next time they look for a job.
- 93% of employees say wellbeing is as important to them as salary
- 87% of employees would consider leaving a company not focused on wellbeing
- 91% of leaders believe they CAN take care of their employees’ wellbeing during the working day
So what are some of the things HR professionals need to be looking out for in 2024?
To find out, TLNT sat down with Lorna Borenstein, CEO and founder of Grokker, which provides well-being solutions for organizations supporting the mental health, physical, nutrition, sleep, and financial well-being needs of their workforces.
She argues HR’s approach to wellbeing needs some outside-the-box-type thinking.
Here’s what she has to say about wellbeing in 2024:
Q: When you say approaches to wellbeing need changing next year, what’s the ‘from what, to what’ regarding this?
A: “Many employers approach wellbeing too broadly. During the pandemic, for example, employers started to offer individual wellbeing benefits like fitness memberships and mental health resources in the hopes these add-ons would address the emergent need. But these disconnected benefits, while acutely needed at the time, fell short of creating an effective approach to wellbeing. Where employers need to go to, in order to establish a true wellbeing approach that produces ongoing results, begins with connecting their corporate culture to whole-person wellbeing. Authentically examining your culture and then extracting specific aspects that support and enforce holistic wellbeing as a corporate imperative is the key, since no two cultures are alike. Taking a long, hard look at how your company’s culture does and doesn’t support employee wellbeing, with a “reality” filter, is where you need to move to first. From there you can then define what your strategy is by nesting your cultural values into your approach and examining what needs to change in order to help your employees feel happy, healthy, and engaged in the workplace.”
Q: You’ve mentioned before that one of the most important things an employer can do is give their employees permission to take care of themselves. What do you mean by that?
A: “Giving your employees permission to take care of themselves involves three key elements: 1) state your commitment; 2) lead out loud; and 3) respond with tools. So, let me break that down. First and foremost, leaders must be vocal about their commitment to caring for employees. They need to say it, share it, and explain why this is critical to the organization’s success. Second, leaders have to walk the talk. They’ve got to be champions of wellbeing and visibly get involved in wellness programs to model that personal wellbeing is a sanctioned priority. Finally, the resources that these organizations put in place have to respond to employees’ needs and fit into employees’ lives. Knowing the cultural, generational and geographical nuances of your workforce is vital to ensuring employees are provided the tools they will actually use and not just those the executives want them to use.”
Q: Does this mean employers should have a more distanced approach to wellbeing?
A: “No. In fact, employers should have more involvement in wellbeing. To ensure employees are empowered to take advantage of the well-being resources offered, employers need to communicate in segmented and personal ways that resonate. One of the best ways to do this is to simply ask employees how they prefer to be communicated with (hint, they don’t want to read your long emails but love SMS and video), and pay attention to what they do in their daily lives. Today’s employee spends just 15 minutes a day reading vs over 100 minutes a day watching online videos. So why aren’t employers shifting how they share with workforces?”
Q: “How do you get leaders to walk the talk when they are often the first people to work long hours, check email on weekends and vacations, etc.?
A: “When leaders make the connection between workforce wellbeing and the achievement of their larger corporate goals, it becomes easy to garner ongoing involvement and support. Understanding how much longer healthier and more engaged employees are retained and laying out simply the cost savings from reducing corporate churn, leaders begin to embrace wellbeing as a global priority. Demanding benefits vendors provide data to prove the financial impact of their services is something all corporation should do. Whether this comes in the form of an annual retention report like those Grokker generates for its clients, or some other validated proof of cost impact, drawing a clear line for the C-Suite between the programs you offer and how it impacts financial results is the lynchpin to executive support and advocacy. And this translates into your executives leading out loud by incorporating breathing breaks, sharing their fitness feats or emphasizing how they schedule non-urgent emails to be sent at 8am on Mondays rather than over the weekend. Additionally, leaders will embrace group activities like mindfulness or breath work sessions to ensure accountability.”
Q: “A more individualistic approach — doesn’t this mean complication? “One size fits all” tries to encapsulate as many people as possible, doesn’t it?
Q: “A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t an effective way to support employees and ensure wellbeing is engrained into your corporate values. There are multiple generations in the workplace who apart from having discreet needs also have widely differing communication preferences. A millennial, white woman who just had her first child will have different needs and priorities than a Gen X, black male frontline worker. So why would you ever use monolithic communications modalities or messages to reach these team members? Leaders need to segment communication to ensure targeted awareness of the benefits offered. And similarly, employers should also survey their workforce in a segmented manner, to understand their employees’ evolving needs and grow their feedback. Ultimately, employers need to know that their workforce has access to as well as awareness of holistic wellbeing resources in order to confidently foster an engaged, productive, and happy workforce.”
What do employees want to see in corporate fitness in 2024?
Health and fitness still play a massive part in people’s overall sense of wellbeing.
TLNT asked Ann Wyatt, vice president and chief client success leader at HealthFitness what she sees on the horizon:
“Each year I see one question inevitably come up: “What trends do you think will emerge in the next year in corporate wellness?” It’s a question I hear from colleagues, HR leaders and clients. Everyone is curious as to what’s coming next.
At HealthFitness we recently ran our own research, polling participants at our corporate fitness centers across the country. One of those questions was: “if you had a magic wand, what would you like to see in the corporate fitness center of the future?”
“Participants had a number of thoughtful suggestions that get at what employees want in a corporate fitness center in the years ahead. And some of these suggestion would not only be relatively easy to implement, but they wouldn’t be costly either. One of the top things workers wanted was simply more time and permission to use a gym during their workday or before or after work.
Others wanted more specialty classes around meditation, yoga and Zumba. And finally, a few folks mentioned body composition analysis services to measure their percentage of fat, bone and muscle in their body, to see if they’re at a healthy weight. More people are starting to shift away from being judged by the number on the scale to wanting to evaluate body composition instead. “Strong is the new skinny” is a phrase we repeatedly heard. Many people say the reasons they work out are for health and to look good.
“Participants also listed a number of items that would require a much larger investment from employers. They included items such as a swimming pool, which can be a wonderful add to any corporate fitness center, while another popular request is saunas and steam rooms. (One person even asked for an infrared sauna which provides the benefits of a traditional sauna at lower temperatures). This is a great choice for people who can’t stand the heat of a traditional sauna.
“Finally, other participants wanted to add cryotherapy to the corporate club’s offerings. If you haven’t tried it yet, cryotherapy (also known as cold therapy) is the local or general use of low temperatures in medical therapy. At clubs, this can mean adding a cold plunge pool. Cold plunging has become more popular for recovery and wellness trends this year, with proponents touting its benefits, such as improved mental health and performance, increased metabolism muscular recovery.
In addition to the research here’s just a handful of trends I believe will impact the corporate wellness world in 2024:
- Fitness and nutrition coaching
- Recovery and assisted stretching
- Functional fitness to improve mobility for daily life
I hope the research above along with some of the ideas I shared will help get you thinking about how you can improve your corporate wellness program in the year ahead by considering what will be trending in the next 12 months.”
One last thing…
“Parental wellness” should be a key priority for 2024:
It’s sometimes easy to forget that two-in-five workers – about 40% of the total US labor force – are parents. These are people with a child under age 18 at home. Of all working partents, one-in-nine (about 11%) has a young child under age 5 at home. According to Patrice Meagher, founder and CEO of MilkMate, and expert advisor on employee benefits, parent-aimed benefits should be on more HR professionals’ agendas.
She says: “Research shows that 70% of employers see higher attrition rates amongst employees with children, and a stronger emphasis is needed in provision of family benefits.” She adds: “It’s often argued non-parents object to employers devoting so much emphasis on parents, but parental benefits actually impact and help everyone. Why? Well, they often have a wellness element to it, and workers are – let’s not forget – looking at how companies will support them when they eventually do become parents.”
She adds: “Really, the issue here is simply being ‘pro-working person’. Our own research shows 78% of HR people we speak to get benefit success through improved retention and attraction.”
According to Meagher, CHROs need to think about wellness from an office design perspective too: “We anticipate 2024 being much more about incorporating wellness design into workplaces – wellbeing rooms, lactation rooms, rooms providing period products, amenity centers gyms, bike rooms and the like. I do honestly think that employers ‘do’ want to make their workplaces better. Sure, every company is looking at their real estate footprint now, but even SMEs can look at having shared, common spaces.”