Towards the right questions: HR trends in 2024

As we move into the new year, it's time to take a look at what's in store for human resources in 2024. What are the hot topics and key trends? Where are we heading, and what should we focus on in HR? We've looked around.

Quentin Tarantino once said in his classic two-part film Kill Bill that the first part is the answer and the second part shows the question. Something similar is happening now in HR - but of course, there is no bloody retribution!

2023 has delivered a host of "answers" such as AI, DE&I, L&D, and similar trends summarised in acronyms that have taken HR into new territory. However, it is expected that 2024 could be the year when we finally understand the "question" better and the full picture can be clarified.

  • The future of AI and data-driven HR

According to HR experts and technology companies surveyed by Forbes, artificial intelligence is one of the hottest topics in the industry today. The use of AI in the HR space is already shifting into higher gear in 2023, but this is expected to increase in 2024.

AI will need to be used more consciously so that the technology, which today is still often beset by ethical and privacy issues, can also be a useful companion for HR departments.

We are already seeing that artificial intelligence can be used to automate and speed up processes in HR. It saves a lot of time, makes recruitment more efficient, eliminates unconscious bias, leads to better, data-driven decision-making, etc., but it can also help employees get faster and more accurate answers to their questions.

An interesting takeaway from the Forbes article is that even the recently concluded months-long strike by Hollywood actors and writers could have an impact on how employers use AI in 2024. The unprecedented coalition has come together to regulate the use of AI in the film industry, alongside the issue of pay. While it is a specific industry, it has raised contentious issues between employers and employees about using AI. So the case is certainly noteworthy.

  • Skill bases for human resource management

The epidemic has made companies dependent on technology: they have had to learn to manage and integrate digital tools into their daily HR and work processes. Where it failed, it caused a backlog or a system crash. We were just getting the hang of it, and here comes AI, which requires another leap in competencies.

For a company (or an employee) to keep pace with advances, to take advantage of increasingly sophisticated technology, to deliver (or do their job) to ever higher standards, newer and newer skills need to be learned.

Learning and development (L&D) programs within the company walls are more important than ever. If you like, the luxury of frequent recruitment can be replaced by a form of internal talent management and the use of skills within the company (knowledge sharing).

Therefore, the focus is often shifting from education and experience to individual skills in the recruitment process: the "hidden workforce", i.e. the often rejected or untapped talents, mentoring of newcomers, skills, flexibility, what a given employee can do, what he or she can learn, master, etc.

  • Engagement, retention, and employee experience in 2024

The COVID era has introduced many positive innovations to organizations, but some of these are now causing disadvantages and challenges for companies. For example, remote working makes it harder to bring communities together, often reduces efficiency, requires new approaches to conflict management, etc. And as the context of work (place, time, way) has changed in many places, the employer-employee relationship has also changed.

Keeping a team together and managing it effectively, in addition to home office, hybrid or flexible working, and in the case of multi-center workplaces, without technological solutions and common digital platforms, is now almost impossible.

Employers also need to focus more on how to manage potential friction and dissatisfaction in the changed framework. The priority is of course to retain and increase engagement, but performance should not suffer as a result of the changed circumstances.

The phenomenon of 'quiet exits' (i.e. some employees shifting to the other extreme of meeting the minimum required to avoid overwork and burnout) has also highlighted the need for employers to focus much more on the individual needs of employees and the whole employee experience.

This complex sense of employee well-being is the key to retention and engagement.

These include things such as whether and what extra benefits an employee can expect in the event of outstanding performance or results; the timing of their salary; how well their competencies are used by their employer; what opportunities for development they have; and how they feel in the community. Moreover, it also includes how the company's DE&I principles (in addition to diversity and equity within the organization) of inclusion, integration, and involvement are put into practice for her.

It seems that companies will have to develop strategies for their employees in a similar way as they do for consumers.

You need to understand their needs, keep in mind how to increase their engagement, satisfaction, and well-being, show them new things, etc.

We started by saying that 2023 has offered and presented many, many answers to the HR profession, and 2024 is expected to ask the really important questions. The solutions available are great, but their application at the system level is still a work in progress: this is where HR can make a big splash in the year ahead.