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What Trends are Shaping the Workplace in 2024?

What Trends are Shaping the Workplace in 2024?

The workplace continues to evolve post-Covid in ways that never could have been anticipated or imagined 10 years ago. According to Gallup, “In 2019, 60% of remote-capable employees spent their week working fully on-site, whereas that figure has fallen to just 20% in 2023.” Clearly, hybrid and remote work continue to be one of the top considerations in 2024.

The bigger picture, though, is the status of relationships in the workplace in general. Employees are more concerned with how they are managed than where they work. Again, “Gallup’s research indicates that how employees are managed has about four times as much influence on employee engagement and well-being as their work location.” This requires looking at how workplace relationships need to evolve to improve employee engagement and the overall employee experience.

Let’s look at some of the key workplace trends for 2024.

Remote/hybrid vs. in-house

This wasn’t even an issue before the pandemic. Employees were co-located in the same place and collaboration was easy. The pandemic introduced a forced work-from-home challenge for all but essential workers. Many employees enjoyed the idea of a short commute from their bedroom to the kitchen table and want to continue working from home.

The problem with this is that employees who work fully remote often feel a sense of isolation and lack the social connection they had in the office. According to Inc., “A big part of remote work will be focusing on employee well-being and mental health.” This may require that employers pay more attention to health benefits that support mental health and opportunities to create greater connections among their workers.

On the other hand, working in the office brings employees together in one place with face-to-face contact, which is essential to build connections. It fosters the kind of collaboration and communication you can’t achieve at the same level through Zoom or Slack. Many employers have started to require several days in the office for these very reasons

The expansion of AI

AI has infiltrated the workplace in many areas, and it is unstoppable as the rate of adoption continues to rise. There’s a fear among employees that AI will eliminate their jobs, but it is safe to say that AI will continue to create new opportunities for those skilled in machine learning and data science, with cyber security taking a central role.

AI can increase efficiency and productivity, but it does have its limitations as it lacks the human ability to demonstrate empathy, innovation and creativity. Also, AI isn’t foolproof, and it requires oversight as it’s not always error-free. This is where human intervention is necessary so that the wrong information isn’t used to complete tasks – especially those in highly regulated environments, where reputational risk is always at stake.

Skills vs. degrees

It used to be that many job descriptions included a college or advanced degree for a candidate to even be considered for a role. However, we are seeing that skills and experience often offer better candidates for certain jobs than diplomas. Experience can trump a degree when certain skills are needed, particularly in the technology sector where innovation is happening at a record pace.

The skill-based approach to hiring focuses on the ability of a candidate to do the job, rather than a degree that often is unnecessary. According to Deloitte, “By moving to skills-based hiring, organizations are 107% more likely to place talent effectively and 98% more likely to retain high performers and have a reputation as a great place to grow and develop.” This is a critical factor in today’s labor market where organizations are trying to reduce the costs associated with turnover and improve the employee experience.

Generational approaches to leadership

Baby boomers who have held leadership roles, particularly in larger, well-established companies, are retiring, ushering in generational changes as Gen X, millennials and Gen Z start to rise in the company ranks to replace them.

What the generations care about is markedly different and Gen Z, or Zoomers as they are sometimes called, who will make up approximately 25% of the workforce in 2025, care about DEI, social stewardship, values, and flexibility in how, when, and where they work. Hybrid and remote work pose specific challenges for management, and younger employees will need guidance on how to navigate a non-communal workforce where professional development may be harder to come by.

Leaders who are inflexible micromanagers aren’t going to cut it in a post-pandemic work environment, and leaders who continue to demand five days in the office are eroding the trust that is so critical for employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Additionally, many managers are feeling burnt out and overworked, with a healthy work-life balance completely out of reach. Leaner budgets and having to do more with less also affect staff well-being, leading many to look for greener, more supportive pastures.

Rise in gig work

Whether full-time or as a side hustle, gig work is becoming more mainstream. Flexibility is key here and workers also like the diversification of project work, which provides the opportunity to work in different areas and gain new knowledge and skills.

Gig work also provides workers with an additional income stream or a way out of the corporate environment altogether, where they are responsible for getting the job done in any manner they choose.

The Bottom Line

The workplace continues to evolve, with the nine-to-five, five-day workweek in the office quickly falling by the wayside. Organizations are starting to look at a four-day workweek, which has gained popularity in companies such as Microsoft, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba. Sustainability is a key theme as well as employees want to work for companies that promote it, are concerned with climate change, and want to make a difference.

The employer mandate for a return to office continues to cause negative feedback as employees have embraced remote work because it saves them time and money and increases their productivity.

Talent shortages will continue to affect hiring practices and companies will have to become increasingly adept at doing more with less, without over-stressing those currently in the workforce.

All in all, it should prove to be an interesting year, so buckle up your seatbelt and get ready for a crazy ride!

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