Workplace trends of 2024 | Main region | UB

Workplace trends of 2024

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In these currently challenging economic conditions, businesses are working hard to improve productivity and improve their growth. However, it’s equally important for business leaders to keep an eye on the future so they can spot the opportunities and challenges that will shape their  workforce strategy.  
With so many competing priorities, it can be hard for business leaders to separate the hype from the highly important. To help prioritise your efforts, we’ve spotted six key areas that should be on your radar for the year ahead.

Trend 1: Adopting skills-based hiring practices

While some of the pressure of talent shortages has eased, there will continue to be a lack of skills, especially in digital, green and healthcare roles. In fact, 62 per cent of senior business executives globally identify a shortage of staff with IT skills as one of the main threats to their business1 – this means a significant change in hiring strategies is needed.  
The traditional criteria used in hiring, such as educational achievements, degrees held and years of relevant experience, could mean that organisations vying for talent in highly competitive labour markets may fail to meet their ambitions.  

In the year ahead, skills are poised to take precedence over experience, as 75 per cent of recruiting professionals believe that skills-first hiring will become an important focus for their organisations. This new approach to finding talent is expected to offer access to a more extensive and diverse talent pool. In practice, this skills-first hiring approach includes: 
  • Defining and mapping skills by identifying the core technical skills needed across your organisation 
  • Creating defined career paths and learning journeys based on skills gaps, not job titles 
  • Creating targeted learning interventions including formal training, experiential and mentoring/peer learning 
  • Enabling internal talent mobility by posting key roles internally

Trend 2: The balance between technology and people

Technology is moving at a faster than ever pace. In 2023, Generative AI launched into the public domain, with ChatGPT. This history making application was the fastest growing consumer application ever – reaching 100 million monthly active users in its first two months4. 
Technology is advancing so quickly that it can render current ways of working unrecognisable in just a few months. In 2024, AI will leap forward once more, aiding everything from interviews to writing job descriptions, and organisations are eager to embed its potential across working practices.  
“Given its growing capabilities for tackling tasks of all shapes, it’s no surprise that companies are keen to harness AI’s potential”, stated Christiaan Cumine, Chief Product Officer at Hays.  
While these new technologies are creating plenty of excitement in their potential to close skills gaps and increase productivity, organisations must ensure that AI (and technology in general) is deployed and utilised thoughtfully. Employees must see it as a support rather than a threat. Building an ecosystem that carefully balances the potential of the technology with a people-first cultural approach is crucial. This involves taking the time to understand what your business goals are, getting your data in shape – and only then can you align your AI strategy with your business goals. 
Despite the ongoing innovation in AI, legislation has not kept pace, however we expect a wave of consumer protection laws in the coming years. For instance, in New York City, the current administration has initiated an 'Artificial Intelligence Action Plan' to assess the risks linked to AI. Similar initiatives are expected worldwide, underscoring the importance of staying informed about imminent legislation that may alter how your organisation uses this evolving technology. 
Learn more about finding the balance between people and technology in our upcoming episode of the Executive Edge.

Trend 3: Office, WFH or Hybrid?

Four years on from the outbreak of COVID-19 that drove many office-based professionals to the spare rooms of their homes, the debate around where work gets done continues.  
There’s no question that the WFH experiment was a success, workers globally proved they could be just as productive and effective as they were in the office – if not more.  
And they’re happier too. A study of more than 4000 employees found that 39 per cent said they would be likely to quit if their employer tried to enforce a full-scale return to office mandate. 
But with global productivity growth set to slow for the third consecutive year, employers are keen to see their teams working back in the office – nearly a quarter of employers anticipate that their hybrid working policies will change to require more in-office attendance over the next 12 months.  
But a return to office can’t be a forced ask, with consultation a key aspect of achieving a successful hybrid policy. The debate is more about asking where the best place is for your workers to be successful at the task at hand.  
And remember, for your employees it’s not about the office, it’s about belonging. Create spaces for socialisation and collaboration, as well as focus and concentration.

Trend 4: Agile staffing in response to economic uncertainty

The current geopolitical climate is full with instability and disruption, however this presents an opportunity for companies to rethink not only how work gets done, but by whom. 
A contingent workforce can offer niche skillsets that can be utilised as and when required – and when utilised in conjunction with your permanent staff, you’ll build a workforce that is both reliable and agile. 
It’s essential to have complete visibility across your workforce, both permanent and non-permanent workers - which will likely require breaking down established silos. Ruth Munday, our Global Head of Client Development (Enterprise Solutions) highlights the importance of uniting your Procurement and HR teams to create this synergy. Strategic and tactical alignment across these departments – supported by your tech stack - enables organisations to become far more efficient and resilient to shocks.
Gaining full visibility across your workforce, including both permanent and non-permanent workers is crucial and may necessitate the dismantling of any existing silos. Forging a strong collaboration between procurement and HR teams will help to create the synergy needed. By establishing strategic and tactical alignment across these departments, with the support of your technology stack empower businesses to increase efficiency and resilience against unforeseen disruptions. 
Get all this right - utilising a flexible contingent workforce, aligning your in-house staffing teams and enhancing your tech - and you’ll be in a position to respond quickly to economic uncertainty and tackle external challenges.

Trend 5: Putting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives back in the spotlight

Almost half of employees feel alienated by their organisation’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts, and this discontent is mirrored in DE&I teams which have high attrition rates and lower hiring intent. However the rise of employee activism means businesses need to act quickly or lose credibility, trust – and, crucially, skills. 
An inclusive company culture can reduce employee turnover by 50%, so we expect to see a new focus on embedding DE&I initiatives into culture, processes and communications. It’s also important to consider the diversity and inclusion efforts targeted towards your non-permanent population, as they account for a rising proportion of the workforce.

Trend 6: Bringing different generations together

Today’s workforce is the most age-diverse ever witnessed.
In the year ahead, ongoing talent shortages mean organisations will need to get even more from their multi-generational teams. Central to this will be strong talent pipelining that will attract, secure and engage with the brightest talent at all stages of their careers, including:
  • Doubling down on efforts to hire more people early in their careers. 
  • Exploring opportunities to reengage the ‘unretiring’ populations. 
  • Training and reskilling those with experience across the organisation.  
  • Exploring the opportunities of Hire-Train-Deploy models, whereby candidates are trained for specific skills requirements and armed for deployment at client sites. 
Securing in-demand talent will mean looking beyond a competitive pay strategy to take into account job satisfaction, training and career progression – and how this will need to adjust to support employees across differing life stages.  
Is your value proposition working across generations? Discover how you can leverage the benefits of age diversity with our ‘3 top tips for leaders’.

Prepare for tomorrow’s challenges

Ask any CEO to predict the business-critical challenges they’ll face in 2024 and you’ll likely see a list that includes talent shortages, the impact of technology, productivity concerns and a desire to optimise costs, albeit in various guises.  
At Hays our experience and insight can help you turn the dial on strategies that enable you to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges. Contact us to find out more. 


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