Key Workplace Trends of 2024 Affecting Talent Development
John Hackston, The Myers-Briggs Company
5 min. read
Making predictions about the future is always something of a hostage to fortune. However, several current workplace trends look set to continue, and intensify, in 2024.
Here are some of the most influential trends to expect this year.
In so many ways, technology facilitates what we do in the workplace, and in 2024, this digital transformation will pick up even more speed. Technology is already embedded in many training and development processes and will only integrate further. There will be an increasing emphasis on using data and analytics, typically accessed via dashboards, to make decisions around training, development, and talent management.
The content of training and development programs will change. As routine tasks become more automated, some training programs will become less relevant, but as new software and platforms for collaboration, communication, and project management proliferate, employees will need to be trained or upskilled on how to use these systems effectively.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms like ChatGPT to answer questions and draft content will increase, and training and development teams will have a role in checking such content for errors (as is well documented, ChatGPT is not perfect). Allied to the increasing importance of technology will be a greater emphasis on data security, cybersecurity, and associated training.
Hybrid and remote work
Over the last year, we’ve seen a wide range of approaches to remote work. At one extreme, some organizations have gone fully remote. At the other extreme, some have demanded that staff be in the office at their desk five days a week. Neither extreme will work for everyone, and those companies that insist on a full return are likely to put themselves at a disadvantage.
Research by The Myers-Briggs Company shows that employees who want to work from home, but who are not allowed to, are significantly more likely to be looking to leave their job than other employees are. Perhaps not unreasonably, some employees are asking why they should be forced to commute when they have been carrying out their jobs perfectly well from home for the last few years. This conversation will continue throughout 2024, with many employees likely looking for a hybrid work pattern, and companies that can accommodate this reaping the benefits.
Training and development professionals will need to find ways to accommodate remote, hybrid, and non-remote workers in their programs. A particular challenge will be maintaining a company culture and ethos and a feeling of connectedness across this more fragmented workforce.
The rising cost of living
For many workers, especially less senior, less well-paid employees, energy bills and food prices are rising faster than their salary. They are experiencing the “cost of living crisis.” Often their employers can do little directly to help, especially if they are smaller companies working on tight margins. Most operating costs are going up, creating a pressure to improve productivity and leaving little room to increase wages.
This may leave organizations with a retention problem, where previously loyal employees begin to feel undervalued or feel that they simply must leave to achieve a higher salary elsewhere. Those employees who remain may become increasingly stressed, causing productivity to fall further.
For L&D and HR teams, this trend means they will spend more time maintaining and enhancing employee well-being and engagement. In turn, this will improve retention. They will need to foster a sense of belonging and community (including among remote and hybrid workers), developing programs to address any issues with physical, mental, or emotional health.
They’ll need to develop ways for employees to improve their work-life balance (for example, by supporting hybrid working and avoiding an “always-on” culture), and they’ll need to maintain personal development programs, too. Cutting these to save costs is likely to prove a false economy.
In any article like this one, you will find that at some point the author talks about “the increasing pace of change.” However, that doesn’t make this issue any less real.
We’ve all experienced great changes over the last few years, and for many, change fatigue is setting in. Recent research suggests that 77 percent of HR leaders say their employees are feeling fatigued, and 82 percent think that their managers aren’t equipped to lead change. This affects job performance, intention to stay in the job, and many other factors.
For L&D professionals, a key focus for 2024 will be educating employees about the effects of change and how to adapt to and use change effectively.
The hidden workforce
Many organizations and industries are facing talent shortages while ignoring an important resource—the “hidden workforce.”
These are groups of people who have often been overlooked or underutilized in employment, including neurodivergent individuals, people with disabilities, historically underrepresented groups, and the long-term unemployed.
As well as filling talent gaps, utilizing the hidden workforce can have many other benefits. It brings different points of view into the organization, and the company demonstrates its commitment to diversity and inclusion. And by offering opportunities to those who are denied them elsewhere, organizations will gain a talented and loyal workforce.
Of course, this trend is not only about recruitment. L&D specialists will need to review training and development programs, too. If employees do not feel valued and included, they will underperform or leave.
Attention to diversity, equity, and inclusion will ramp up in 2024, with a greater emphasis on the importance of inclusion in employee retention, rather than only being concerned with the recruitment of a diverse workforce.
More attention will be paid to all aspects of diversity, such as sexual orientation, disability, and neurodivergence as well as race and gender. Organizations will become more sophisticated in considering how these different facets of the individual interact with one another. There will be a continued focus on promoting well-being and mental health and a growth in the resources available, especially for remote workers. Continuous training and development on diversity, equity, and inclusion will continue, with a focus on developing an inclusive culture.
This article was written by John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, and first published by ATD (Association for Talent Development) in January, 2024.