5 HR Predictions and Trends for 2024
A whole new year is here! You’ve probably already set some goals and resolutions for your personal life to make this year better than ever—going to new places, connecting with old friends and loved ones, and generally becoming your best self.
Bonusly is here to help you do the same at work in the HR world: we talked to more than 300 HR admins in the U.S. to see what they think this year will bring (plus our suggestions for how to prepare).
From more human-centered and truly diverse workplaces to the smart, safe use of AI at work and more, here’s what our interviewees and Bonusly teams alike believe will be the biggest HR trends this year, broken down into a brief blog form (check out the full report for more details!).
2024: What We See Happening in HR
1. Human-centric cultures replace grind cultures
Beginning with the Great Resignation in 2020, employees across industries, roles, and tenure have shown their employers what they really value at work: being treated like a whole, real human instead of an anonymous widget.
And in 2024, this trend will only gain strength. Unemployment rates are still very low, and employees know that they have choices about where to work; it's no surprise that they’re choosing workplaces with cultures that center their humanity over ones that glorify endlessly hustling and grinding.
What do these human-centric workplaces look like? They all vary (as companies and humans are both unique), but what they do share is this: they prioritize the people inside of their organization, and their experiences as employees.
Employees in 2024 aren’t going to be willing to settle for anything less, and if they’re unhappy, they’ll make their feelings known with their feet as they head out the door. If your company isn’t putting your people first, this is the year to start figuring out how to do it.
--> Want more details about what these human-centered cultures will look like, and how to build your own organization this way? Download the full 2024 HR Trends Report!
2. Performance enablement instead of management
How many times in your career have you left a performance management conversation, like your annual review, feeling a sense of excitement, clarity, and engagement? If you’re lucky, you can probably count those occasions on one hand. In fact, fewer than one in five employees feel inspired by their performance reviews.
The traditional performance management system is disheartening (to put it mildly). Being “managed” doesn’t give employees a sense of autonomy or empowerment, and can often feel more like being called to the principal’s office as a schoolkid than growing as a professional adult.
But there’s hope coming in 2024: the rise of performance enablement.
Instead of managing employee performance from the top down, HR teams and companies will move to enable employees to perform at their peak and grow within your organization. Instead of only looking backwards at performance, companies will shift to forward-looking conversations to help employees build the careers they want. Instead of asking managers to serve as evaluators and task managers, they’ll be encouraged to act as coaches and career builders, which is a lot more engaging for them as well.
--> Get the full details on what performance enablement will look like in the 2024 HR Trends Report!
3. AI and automation advance (with caution)
In 2023, most of us spent a lot of time (maybe too much time) hearing about everything AI was going to transform—workplaces, interactions, and even our jobs. But as much as we learned about the pretty stunning capabilities of tools like ChatGPT4, we also learned a whole lot about their limitations like hallucinations, copyright issues, and data-sharing.
Those advances and disadvantages mean 2024 will prove pretty interesting. How will we use AI to increase productivity in HR, drive employee performance, and make organizations more efficient?
But those aren’t the only questions AI will raise in 2024. There’s also a lot of anxiety among employees about how AI will not just transform their jobs, but potentially even replace them. Only 35% of individual contributors expect that AI will have a positive effect on their workplace, while 66% of executives agree (and that tension will be another interesting trend).
HR teams will have their work cut out for them in 2024 as they work to balance the excitement of executives with employees’ needs and fears. Integrating AI into the employee experience might not be easy due to the legal and security issues at play, but getting it done can help employees focus more on the work they truly enjoy doing.
--> Dig deeper into the data on AI and HR in the full 2024 HR Trends Report!
4. The return to the office really happens
Many employees left the office en masse in 2020, and employers are eager to get them back to their physical desks. Employees, on the other hand, got used to days free of putting on real pants, commuting, eating a sad desk lunch, and sitting in rush hour traffic or on a packed subway.
As 2024 starts, employers are just as eager to get employees into the office more often. Nine out of ten companies say they’ll implement RTO policies by the end of this year, and almost 30% say they’ll fire employees who don’t comply. No wonder in-office work has reached a post-pandemic high.
Many employees don’t mind spending a few days a week in the office—some even like it. But demanding that all employees come back five days per week, every week, to the office because of a vague justification like “company culture” is not going to be popular with employees.
There are plenty of ways to improve company culture that don’t include spending all day every day in a beige cubicle just because leaders don’t know how to measure productivity accurately. Hopefully, in 2024 we’ll see HR teams get creative here to bridge these divides and find solutions that work for everyone, no matter where they work.
5. Reinventing and reimagining DEI
In 2024, just focusing on the first third of DEI isn’t going to be enough anymore. While diversity is a great start, it’s clear now that it’s not enough on its own to create fairer and better workplaces.
It’s also critical to create a workplace where employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work and feel accepted and valued for who they are. That sense of inclusion also means feeling like they have a voice and are able to use it. Equity is also more important than ever, especially with more and more states passing salary transparency laws so employees know what their peers (and managers) are making.
Companies (and their HR teams) are going to need to focus on a more holistic approach to DEI in 2024, embedding all three pillars of DEI into the foundations of their organizations instead of relying on their old diversity programs. It’s an exciting part of the evolution of the world of work as we build a more inclusive and equitable experience for every employee.
While we can’t predict exactly what 2024 will bring in the wider world (like the Super Bowl winner), these HR predictions and trends are backed up by a whole lot of data, expert voices, and hours of internal discussions. We’re confident they’ll help you and your HR team navigate what's sure to be another year of big changes, plus chatter about ChatGPT and commuting.