There are a lot of hot topics for HR this year and prioritizing what to do first is probably what most companies are struggling with right now. It’s that time of year where goal setting is top of mind so here are the Top 10 HR Trends for 2024 to help plan your HR goals.
The top 10 HR trends for 2024 are:
2. Providing a great employee experience
3. Controlling labour costs
4. Developing the organization's leaders
5. Supporting change
6. Enabling innovation
7. Fostering an environment of DEIB
8. Facilitating data driven decisions
9. Enabling learning and development
10. Rapidly moving internal employees to staff strategic priorities
There isn’t a whole lot of change from last year and what’s not surprising based on the labour market right now, is that Recruiting is once again first on the list.
I won’t dive deep into all the trends, but I feel like the top 4 are worth exploring in more detail.
First on the list is recruiting and the challenges of recruiting unfortunately will not be short-lived and will continue beyond 2024. They include shortage of talent in some industries – specifically in technology and healthcare - and the growing skills mismatch. Technical skills are lacking, however beyond the technical skills are soft skills such as adaptability, problem-solving, and communication which are also lacking. With the right skills, workers can adapt and change as quickly as our environment is changing.
This means that managers should be willing to train employees on some skills and not expect the perfect candidate to have all the skills they are looking for. It’s very rare to find a candidate that has 100% of what you’re looking for. As a hiring manager, you need to discern what skills you can train and what you cannot so that it increases your chances of finding a suitable candidate.
As for polarized opinions on work flexibility, there is no clear-cut answer on whether Return to Office (RTO), is the best option for organizations or, if employees should continue to work from home. Flexibility should be offered and discussed with each individual employee and should be decided based on what’s in the best interest of both parties involved and, in my opinion, this topic will be relevant for quite some time.
Increased time-to-hire is another issue the recruitment world is facing today and getting to the offer stage in the recruitment process can be extremely frustrating and very long. Hiring decisions need to be made quicker because candidates are moving fast and are accepting the best offer when it comes. Don’t be the one who couldn’t decide on a candidate and missed out on a high-quality performer.
And as technology continues to evolve, it’s important for candidates (and employees) to ensure their skills are relevant and up to date in a world where AI is everywhere. Don’t let yourself become obsolete – embrace the changes and learn the skills required. It’s your only defense in this very competitive market.
While there’s a very big focus on recruiting and the candidate experience, let’s not forget to recognize that current employees matter too and we must implement strategies to keep them, especially now that employee turnover is on the rise. According to a recent Mercer survey, the voluntary turnover rate in Canada jumped from 12.4% to 15.5%, with flexibility and company dissatisfaction cited as some of the main reasons for employees leaving. Please keep in mind that an average turnover rate in a company is around 10%. Anything above that, indicates some underlying issues that should be addressed. So, a 15.5% turnover rate to me speaks volumes. Companies have no choice but to try and retain their people and keep them happy.
Having said that, turnover is not always a bad thing. It can also be seen as an opportunity to shake things up and look for ways to make sure backfilling the position is the right thing to do. Maybe some fresh talent is needed, and backfilling can be delayed?
A great employee experience is not only about retaining employees but also about building a strong, engaged, and skilled workforce that contributes to the long-term success of the organization. A good employee experience will help you save money, keep your knowledge & expertise from walking out the door, good for employee morale, great for customer relationships, and essential for succession planning.
Give employees choice & flexibility. Flexibility is not just a nice-to-have - it’s become a need. Be prepared to accept that flexibility will look different in different areas. It’s less about offering the same flexibility to everyone and more about finding flexible work options that can work for specific groups of employees and specific roles. Flexible options and working from home are not for all. That’s the starting point that we should keep in mind, which means that solutions are going to be different from one person to the next and from one role to the next. There won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. This is where HR needs to get creative and be able to offer up different options that are right for the business.
Another way to create a great employee experience is to design development plans focusing on critical talent and critical positions within an organization. Some examples are to let them participate in a high visibility project, offer key internal or external training, give them a promotion, do a project with another function, become active in a professional association, assign a mentor and/or coach.
Doing stay interviews are a great way to gauge how employees are feeling. It’s always better to do a stay interview with a high performer than it is to do an exit interview with them! Stay interviews are simple 1:1 touchpoints to obtain real-time feedback. They can be as often as once a week or once a month. What’s important is to ask the right questions and to initiate a conversation. One of the best questions I remember being asked in a 1:1 meeting with my manager was: “Where am I a bottle-neck and how can I help?” Which means that it’s not always the employee who is holding things back in the production line, and if a manager can admit to being the reason for things not moving forward, then that allows for a more open and honest discussion in the future, it’s a great example of a leader demonstrating some vulnerability.
Next up is controlling labour costs which as we all know, is nothing new. Headcount is always the largest overhead cost to running any business. After recently coming out of the pandemic which shook the world both economically and socially, controlling labour costs has become heightened.
HR is uniquely positioned to leverage labour cost data because we understand what is important to employees. By tapping into to see where labour costs are best meeting the business’ needs. When we reframe labour costs by remembering that jobs can present costs to employees such as dress code, time away from family for example. These are opportunity costs for employees which have a direct impact on employee engagement and job satisfaction. If employers create these costs, we consciously find ways to make up for them in compensation or benefits.
The unfortunate thing that may happen if labour costs need to be controlled is downsizing resulting in layoffs. HR plays a pivotal role in determining who to lay off and who to retain. HR can help analyze the skills inventory that is necessary to retain to keep the business functional and profitable. And this is where partnering with HR becomes instrumental.
And the last 2024 trend to be analyzed from this list is developing the organization's leaders. It’s probably one of my favourite topics and probably because it’s so misunderstood. Employees get hung up on titles and promotions and often forget that management titles and managerial responsibilities also include a few more headaches, especially if you’re managing people. They don’t realize that managing people and all the problems that usually come with it are not necessarily what they bargained for. And to their defence, companies don’t do a very good job in preparing them for those roles. Employees are often promoted because they’ve been there the longest and then suddenly are moved into a supervisor role.
This is a double-edged sword – 1 because they have not received the proper training, and 2 - they are now the co-worker’s supervisor which can lead to an uncomfortable situation if training is not provided. We see this all the time. Yesterday we were co-workers and today you’re my boss!
And that’s when all the employee issues begin. We see sabotage, we see disgruntled employees, jealousy, low morale, lack of trust within the team and so on….
If the organization had taken the time to create a proper managerial career path and offered leadership training to those put in leadership roles then most, if not, none of these situations would occur. It is the company’s responsibility to develop leaders, managers, and to support them in managing their people. Give them the right tools and watch them flourish!
Here’s the thing though - HR doesn’t have to be daunting or complicated. And you don’t have to do it all yourself. Get professional help with your people issues so you can get back to doing what you’re good at!
If you need help and support with your people stuff, DM me and let’s chat.