Five people management predictions for 2024

Untitled design 52 | Five people management predictions for 2024
By Stephanie Kelly | 11th January 2024 | 7 min read

We may be at the start of a new year (exciting stuff!), but our recent survey shows that historic people management challenges, such as skill shortages and salary expectations, will continue to influence HR in 2024.

So, while some of us may be thinking new year, new me, HR has no luxury, creating plenty of ground for predictions.

We’ve consulted our top minds and compiled what we think will be the five biggest 2024 trends in people management.

1) Skills mapping will become a top priority

Skills are today’s workforce currency. Only skill-focussed businesses who understand their teams’ current and future skills gaps, strengths and interests can pivot to unexpected demands. As a result, in 2024, we will see a much greater focus on workforce planning centred around addressing present or future skill and role gaps.

Underpinning this move will be good employee data.

What can businesses do?

Introduce an organisation-wide skills matrix, identifying and documenting the skills and competencies of each employee.

That way, if someone with a specific skill leaves, or is off sick, you know exactly what you need to cover and if you can deliver this within your existing workforce. Additionally, conduct a review of job descriptions to align them more closely with the skills of the person currently in the role and with current business objectives – this will really help direct employees and identify areas for training and development.

Cross-training, where individuals perform multiple roles across the business, can also be quite useful. It keeps staff interested in their work and ensures that you have a versatile workforce capable of filling gaps when necessary.

Top tip: leverage data analytics tools to assess workforce trends and performance. By analysing data on employee skills, performance and career aspirations, you can make informed decisions about future staffing needs.

2) Backlash from quiet promotions

‘Quiet promotions’ are when employees are assigned additional responsibilities but not compensated with a pay increase or title change.

Understandably, with tight funds and a talent shortage, quiet promotions have been prominent in the last year.

However, with employee wellbeing trends gaining popularity and communities such as WorkTok (content made by TikTok influencers) receiving momentum advocating for fair and just working environments, businesses that don’t offer appropriate compensation risk losing top talent.

What can businesses do?

Be upfront about promotion opportunities and honour any expectations set. If you can’t pay more, maybe don’t promote that person but instead offer them an interim secondment. It’s a great way for employees to develop new skills and achieve growth. 

Additionally, develop transparent and well-defined criteria for promotions. Clearly outline the skills, qualifications and performance metrics required for each level within the business.

Regularly review and update these to ensure they remain relevant and aligned with industry standards, diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Also, consider forming a promotion committee with representatives from different departments or levels within the business. This committee can bring varied insights to the decision-making process and promote fairness.

For those with good insights, you can take it a step further by regularly analysing promotion data to try identify any patterns or trends that may indicate bias.

The key is to communicate openly about the promotion process, criteria and decision-making rationale.

3) Staff require continuous support with cost of living

For many, the struggle continues. The enduring cost of living crisis is still severely impacting workers across the nation.

Inflationary pressures, rising housing costs and increased energy prices have left many grappling with stagnant wages, eroding their purchasing power and financial stability.

What can businesses do?

Hardship funds are a great provision if they can be afforded by the business, helping employees face unexpected or severe financial difficulties.

For those wanting to take this route, establish clear eligibility criteria, create an application process where employees confidentially detail their hardship circumstances and allocate a dedicated individual to review applications and disburse funds swiftly. Another option is allowing employees to access a portion of their retirement or investment funds before the standard age of withdrawal.

This scheme can be a financial lifeline for employees facing unforeseen hardships or significant life events. Again, establish clear guidelines and eligibility criteria for early withdrawals, ensuring compliance with legal regulations, and implement an application process where employees can provide sufficient documentation justifying their need for early access.

Lastly and perhaps the most cost-effective measure you can take is offering flexible working arrangements such as working from home, compressed workweeks or staggered hours.

Added flexibility can help alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with commuting and childcare.

4) Competing generational demands

Competing generational demands will continue to rage in 2024, pushing business leaders to think outside the box whilst ensuring fair treatment and striving to maximise employee productivity.

We must balance thinking emotionally, as well as functionally, by being clear, transparent and authentic in our employee communications. Perhaps most importantly, listening to employees is also vital.

What can businesses do?

People analytics have never been more important for tracking, retaining and developing staff. Annual employee satisfaction surveys are a thing of the past as it's more important than ever that you have your finger on the pulse. Use monthly surveys to gauge sentiment and look for trends in the data – you might be surprised at what you discover.

There could be a perceived lack of training in some areas, a lack of progression in others, an issue with a particular manager, concerns with workplace culture or perhaps the employee benefits on offer don’t match the needs of some.

In all the research I have read, I don’t think competing generational demands are as polarised as people might think, but until you put in place regular surveys, you won’t know how this is playing out in your business or what additional support certain cohorts or teams need.

Technology can help fix the disconnect between you and your workforce. For example, you may be able to automate responses to common queries from staff to a knowledge base or online chatbot or those looking to jump on AI could use chatbots to auto-generate job descriptions.

These are all marginal gains that free up your HR resources, enabling you to better focus on your people.

Note: as more and more older workers return to the workforce, businesses must have appropriate anti-age discrimination practices in place to ensure fair and equal opportunity without bias.

5) ESG reporting is not just for big businesses

Businesses are likely to face increasing pressure to adopt Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) practices in 2024, including possible regulatory changes that will impact the ability to operate without incorporating some ESG practices. The rise in ESG comes from a greater desire for social purpose – it’s good for business as your future recruits will likely judge you on it.

The British Business Bank surveyed businesses in the UK about their views and activities around the transition to net zero.

While 76% said that they hadn’t implemented a decarbonisation strategy, 94% had taken at least one action to reduce their emissions, which is somewhat encouraging.

Access to finance for net-zero transitions is also available; some businesses have already accessed external finance to support net-zero actions, and more will seek funding in 2024.

What can businesses do?

Regardless of the size of company, every business can work on small gains to help with the environment. These can include reducing waste, using renewable energy sources and conserving energy.

ESG should not just be a tick-box exercise. It involves setting goals and capturing data, reporting and auditing activities.

Consider speaking to your accountant as they are well placed to help you understand your carbon footprint, access finance, evaluate the risks, develop plans and measure progress.

Making the workplace environment equitable will ensure there are fair and humane practices as well as a focus on employee wellbeing. Incorporate a transparent and collaborative decision-making process in governance and encourage employee participation.

Publishing reports on your ESG progress is also simply good for business.

Trends and circumstances may change, but the focus is always on people

Hopefully the above offers some food for thought regarding the direction of people management this year. The key thing to remember is amongst all this, ultimately, the focus is on your people.

So, whether you’re trying to digest upcoming trends to be at the forefront of your industry, or you simply want to improve your HR practice, it starts and ends with your staff.

Looking for HR software which empowers your people? You’re in the right place. We put people at the centre of our feature-rich HR solutions – click here to learn more.

About the author

Stephanie Kelly

Chief People Officer

Stephanie Kelly is Chief People Officer and is responsible for the full employee experience, including talent acquisition and strategy, learning and development, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, and office environment.

As an international human resources executive, Steph brings a wealth of experience in implementing best HR practices, as well as acquisition due diligence and integration. These include working for leading technology and IT firms, including Symphony and Torex. She is also a trained executive coach, with a passion for identifying, developing and supporting high potentials and great leaders.