For those working in employee and people management, the focus in 2024 will be on managing the human implications of digital transformation.
In many organizations, this will mean tackling the challenges created by AI’s increasingly omnipresent and disruptive emergence.
It’s true that no one yet truly knows what impact AI will have on the human workforce, but for HR professionals, 2024 is going to be spent working it out.
So here are my predictions for the significant trends that will impact HR over the coming 12 months and beyond – a period that will see seismic shifts in many aspects of how we work and do business.
Generative AI – such as ChatGPT and the ever-growing number of tools that are built around the technology – will revolutionize everything about the way we manage talent and workplace dynamics. From a day-to-day perspective, HR professionals will be empowered to streamline many processes, such as recruitment, personal development, workforce planning and administrative tasks. At the same time, they will also need to navigate the human implications of this radical change, striking a balance between the efficiency of AI and human qualities that are still essential in business.
The Next Generation
2024 will see growing numbers of Generation Z entering the workplace while millennials increasingly move into positions of seniority and management. For HR professionals, the challenge will be managing the different expectations of culture and working life held by younger members of the workforce, which often include a desire for improved work/life balance, continuous education and upskilling, and a greater emphasis on diversity, inclusion and sustainability.
HR professionals will be able to deploy a growing range of technologies and tools as they attempt to understand workforce trends and manage behavioral shifts. Online learning platforms, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) training tools, and workforce tracking systems capable of monitoring engagement and performance will all be part of the toolbox. Challenges will revolve around deploying them in ways that do not compromise staff privacy or data protection rights.
Managing opportunities and challenges around the ongoing shift towards flexible working arrangements will be high on the agenda of all HR professionals, particularly those working for larger organizations with geographically diverse workforces. While it offers the chance for greater employee satisfaction and to attract talent from further afield, it also means overcoming obstacles to developing a corporate culture, maintaining team cohesion, and ensuring consistent lines of communication and accountability are in place.
Strikes and Industrial Action
As the global economic outlook remains uncertain, workers increasingly look to employers to improve pay and conditions. Often, this leads to strikes and industrial action. In 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers increased by nearly 50 percent over the previous year. As well as a people management challenge, effective HR professionals will take the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with employees about their needs and expectations.
Upskilling And Reskilling The Workforce
A hugely important job for HR teams in 2024 will be to work out what skills will be necessary to their organizations in the near future as machines and AI become more powerful and capable. This means understanding how transformative technologies like generative AI will augment existing roles and what human qualities and abilities (strategic thinking, complex problem solving, creativity, emotional intelligence) are needed to complement machines.
As businesses attempt to attract workers back to the office, HR professionals have the job of ensuring workers see the value of getting into cars or onto trains and heading into the workplace. This isn’t about providing beanbags and table football – it’s about ensuring workplaces provide opportunities for collaborative productivity, professional development and networking that can’t always be replicated remotely.
One impact of successfully training and upskilling your workforce for the AI age is that they become highly sought-after by competitors or even in entirely unrelated industries. To retain their valuable investments, businesses must offer a real reason for their workers to be loyal. This means fostering a culture of reward and recognition as well as offering opportunities for continuous development and learning. Staff – particularly very good ones – will always want to move on to new challenges, but focusing on retention strategies means the best people are more likely to remain happy and engaged.