Workforce Trends in 2024
Organizations continue to see shifts in workforce trends that will have a great impact on how they structure and grow their business moving into 2024. These trends affect hiring, policy changes, workplace best practices, and the tools necessary to run day-to-day business.
Understanding these shifts and trends provides a roadmap for making the most of your workforce and implementing the best strategies for beginning a new year on the right foot.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belongingness (DEIB) is an important aspect of creating a positive company culture. As awareness has increased on the importance of DEIB policies, more emphasis has also been placed on accessibility.
With legal issues arising around DEIB implementation and understanding increasing on this issue, workforce trends have shifted, placing focus on inclusion over equity. The belief is that more inclusion creates the culture necessary to promote increased equity.
DEIB policies place importance on the inclusion of all employees no matter their age, race, sex, or other diversity markers. This includes political diversity.
Diversity in the workplace can lead to polarization if not managed well. To best manage workplace diversity, it’s necessary to understand workplace demographics. Understanding the demographics will help to develop policies and training to increase inclusion and create more diverse hiring processes.
DEIB is not just a workforce trend. Leaders should ensure there is a long-term commitment, embedding DEIB policies into the organization’s business strategy, core values, and culture. Set realistic DEIB goals, breaking goals down to make them challenging yet attainable.
Flexible Schedules and Hybrid Work
Demand for flexible and hybrid schedules remains high among applicants, though many employers continue to resist this shift. Employers who have implemented return-to-work mandates have seen significant turnover as employees look for opportunities that will allow them to work from home at least part-time.
Employees see return-to-work mandates as too strict and with no data to back up the need. These employees feel they are not being heard or respected. To attract top talent, employers must find a way to incorporate remote and hybrid work options into their employment culture. Organizations have seen higher engagement, better overall well-being, and lower turnover when incorporating hybrid work options.
The four-day workweek is also gaining popularity. 20% of U.S. businesses surveyed said they offered a four-day workweek to at least some of their employees. Many employees, especially younger generations, believe they can maintain their current productivity with fewer hours, and in some states, legislation has been introduced to reduce the workweek.
Remote work is also being incentivized, with many states offering perks for remote workers to relocate. With so much attention on the issue of flexibility, it is a good time to consider the perks of remote work and flexible schedules.
Focus on Employee Wellness and Growth
Employees are prioritizing wellness programs, leading organizations to pay more attention to benefits and policies that address employee wellness. Employee wellness is one of the workforce trends that promotes better attendance and performance.
Employers should especially pay attention to work-life balance and mental health to help promote overall wellness. Companies need to spend time and effort focusing on the development of better work-life initiatives to foster more positive morale, inclusion, and flexibility.
Another aspect of employee wellness is a sense of purpose and growth. Employees want to feel they have opportunities to grow in their roles. Management should find ways to help employees make the most of their abilities, including providing opportunities to increase or learn new skills.
Technological Advances and Training
One of the biggest workforce trends over the past couple of years is the technological advances developed to increase productivity. While these technological advances can make work easier, they also require more need for training employees in the best use of these labor-saving tools.
It’s important to make sure employees are familiar with the tools available and how to use them, especially AI. AI has made a large impact in the workplace, especially in HR. This tool, used correctly, can simplify processes and remove certain biases.
Managers need to make sure employees understand how to use these tools effectively. It’s also important that employees understand the limitations of these tools to get the most out of them.
Soft Skills Training
With increased technology use, the need to ensure soft skills has increased. Soft skills are important but often overlooked skills in the workplace.
Skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking are essential for an organization’s success. Make sure to evaluate the needs of the current and future workforce, and provide appropriate training to address any gaps.
One workforce trend directly tied to technological changes is skills-based hiring. Many companies have started hiring based on needed skills, such as technical and leadership skills, instead of focusing on educational backgrounds.
Available jobs show reduced degree requirements, with noticeable declines in the jobs that require Bachelor’s degrees or higher.
As this trend continues, employers need to explore methods for confirming and evaluating skills for available jobs. This can include assessments, technical evaluations, and behavioral interviews.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Access to new technologies also means access to more data that can help make your business run efficiently. Understanding the available data is important in day-to-day decisions. This data also helps you prepare for future needs if used correctly.
Make sure leadership and employees understand the data available and understand the tools used to manipulate the data you have. This will help teams make the best use of the information to help your organization grow.
Shifts in Workforce Needs & Wages
In the last few years, organizations have seen many shifts in the available workforce. The Baby Boomers have begun entering retirement age, requiring employers to replace them with less experienced employees. Resignations also increased as employees priorities shifted.
While resignations have slowed, this is still an ongoing issue. Shifts in workforce trends have also reduced the need for workers at various levels while leaving a gap of qualified candidates where employees are needed.
Some employers have created undesirable work environments and have encouraged early retirement to avoid layoffs in these roles no longer needed. These practices often leave bigger gaps than expected as they cause distrust among other employees and potential applicants.
A slowing wage growth has also caused concern among employees. More than 8 million Americans are working more than one job to address this wage growth issue. Multiple jobs also help employees feel more secure as they worry less about layoffs.
As economic uncertainty continues and workforce needs change, employers will need to closely evaluate their structures and practices to ensure they meet the needs of their organization and their employees.
Making the Most of Workforce Trends
Paying attention to workforce trends helps determine best practices to meet changing needs. By understanding employee needs and the changing structure of the workforce, you can put the best tools and policies in place to create a productive work environment.
Making the most of the changing workforce needs starts with your HR infrastructure. Learn more about how HR Service, Inc. can help you evaluate your HR infrastructure to put the best tools in place for better productivity and continued growth.
Dean Kipp, SHRM-CP Human Resources Business Partner
Penny Clark, Content Specialist