2024 Outlook: Tips and Trends from 10 People Pros

Dive into our ebook to read about trends and priorities over the next from industry experts themselves! 

Read the outlook

Buckle up for a glimpse into the future of work! 2023 was a whirlwind for American employees, with economic shifts, policy changes, and technological advancements keeping everyone on their toes.  

To understand how HR professionals will navigate these complexities in 2024, we tapped into the insights of industry experts.  This free ebook explores the top 5 trends they predict will shape the workplace, drawing on their experience and informed perspectives.  Get ready to discover how creativity in employee benefits, a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the strategic use of technology, and a commitment to leadership and development will all play a crucial role in building the people-first workplace of tomorrow.

2023 was a rollercoaster ride for the American workforce.

With all the economic fluctuations, government policy changes, and tech advances (Hello AI 👋), workers were kept on their toes throughout the year. Some people lost their jobs unexpectedly, while others found new opportunities and growth in their respective fields. It was definitely a year full of significant changes and challenges for US workers:

  • People quit without making a big fuss (aka quiet quitting)
  • Consumer prices went up like crazy
  • Interest rates were through the roof
  • A lot of people got laid off 😢
  • We had a major recession

Cue a deep breath because, wow, 2023 was a lot.

It was so much that according to Gallup’s 2023 State of the Workplace report, 44% of employees experienced a lot of stress daily, a record-setting high.

Stress, and a lot of it, has negative effects and consequences on employees. It leads to disengaged and unproductive employees, burnout, and a decrease in overall job satisfaction, which was evident last year, leading employers to learn a valuable lesson—workplace wellbeing needs a serious upgrade.

To unpack this, we got insights from HR experts to get the inside scoop on what will be a priority in 2024 regarding wellness and HR practices.

We will see change in 5 key areas in the next year:

  1. Creativity in employee benefits
  2. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  3. Use of technology and AI
  4. Leadership and talent development
  5. Strategy in employee benefits

Let’s dive into each of these areas to see what our experts expect in 2024!

Chapter 1: Companies will need to be creative with their benefit packages

2023 taught us benefits aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so going forward, companies will need to be creative in their offerings and tailor their benefits to attract and retain top talent. Industry leaders, we asked, emphasize the importance of organizations adapting and innovating their benefits offerings to stay competitive and meet the expectations of their employees.

Jenifer Buell, human resources operations manager at Enivta Solutions, told us, “Building a culture of well-being and care for the employee is vital.

Getting all leadership and management on board so that it is consistently applied would be a priority in 2024.” Companies must enhance their benefits packages and effectively communicate these changes to their workforce to achieve this.

For example, the Community Health Plan of Washington added benefits, modified premium structures, and ramped up communication to cater to employee needs comprehensively.

Anastasiya Avdeyev, benefits and leave specialist for Community Health Plan of Washington, noted, “HR leadership is prioritizing employee well-being.

Additional well-being benefits have been added for employees for the 2024 plan year. We have seen an increase in approval for fertility care, pet insurance, and financial well-being in benefit plan offerings in the region.”

Citizens State Bank introduced wellness incentives to promote healthy practices among employees, offering discounted premiums and deductibles as a tangible benefit.

“I think things that are outside the box, like pet insurance, fitness reimbursements, mortgage and loan consultation, or access to a financial planner will be very impactful. Employees already expect the baseline of medical, dental, vision, STD, LTD, etc. They want things that impact their day-to-day life in the areas they are passionate about.” — Alisha Hernandez, Director of HR at Hotel Tango

“We recently have added wellness incentives to encourage good wellness practices which offer employees discounted premiums and deductibles.” Rhonda Bruns, human resources director at Citizens State Bank

“I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is the culture and what benefits their people actually want. Just because a benefit is successful for someone else doesn't mean it will be in their org. A friend shared an example of a public transit initiative where employees were provided free public transit in what was a very large benefit spend. Unfortunately, the company went mostly unused as they didn't ever survey their population,” said Olivia Zerr, director of operations at  Your Money Line.

As we move into 2024, the trend in employee benefits is shifting toward personalization and flexibility. Benefits must cater to individual preferences and lifestyles, including flexible work arrangements and customized wellness programs. Innovative offerings like pet insurance, fitness reimbursements, financial wellness programs, etc., are becoming part of the mix to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement.

Chapter 2: We will see a shift in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

2024 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives will be a lot different. They won't be separate programs anymore but will be a part of the way we do business. According to Harvard Business Review, "DEI won't disappear, it will become embedded in the way we work." This means that DEI will be an important part of everyday business processes, not just something that happens sometimes.

This integration will likely manifest in these five key areas:

  • Focus on belonging: The emphasis on belonging will intensify, with organizations recognizing the importance of creating environments where every employee feels valued, understood, and connected. This includes reviewing and adapting accommodations and support mechanisms to meet the workforce's diverse needs, ensuring all employees can thrive.
  • Career development and promotion paths: Organizations will emphasize creating clear, equitable career paths for all employees, ensuring that advancement opportunities are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background. This includes providing the necessary resources, mentorship, and training to support career growth and development.
  • Pay transparency and equity: Focusing on pay transparency and equitable compensation structures will become more prevalent as organizations strive to eliminate disparities and ensure fair pay across all demographics. This transparency fosters trust among employees and holds organizations accountable for maintaining equity.
  • Increased integration into business practices: DEI efforts will move beyond isolated programs to become a core element of business strategy. DEI considerations will be present in decision-making, project planning, and policy development, ensuring that diversity and inclusivity are considered at every level of the organization.
  • Resource allocation: Companies will allocate more resources towards DEI initiatives, recognizing that sustained investment is necessary to achieve long-term change. This includes financial investment and dedication to continuous learning, development, and improvement of DEI practices.

“In 2024, we will be focusing more on DEI and belonging. Our goal is to provide resources for employees and review any accommodations that they need in order to be successful in their work life.” — Anastasiya Avdeyev, Benefits and Leave Specialist at Community Health Plan of Washington

"In 2024, I expect increased work with diversity equity and inclusion; pay transparency; career development and promotion paths,” said Heather Boetto at Community Health Plan of Washington.

"I see a lot coming about caregiving and how that relates to leave/time-off policies and DEI," says Rachel Beck, Sr. Benefits Analyst, Arapahoe County.

In 2024, we’ll see DEI become part of an organization's DNA, focusing on big moves that level the playing field for everyone everywhere in the company. It's all about realizing that DEI matters big time—not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it's key to doing business right and keeping everyone happy and healthy at work.

Chapter 3: Robots (aka using AI) will make work less stressful

AI took the world by storm in 2023. Suddenly, it's everywhere—making life easier, work smoother, and providing some entertainment on the side.

Whether it's whipping up code or turning your coworkers into cartoon heroes (Hi, yes, guilty, we did this at Your Money Line). AI's proving to be the new tool we didn't know we needed, and we’re here for it.

AI is going to be the new BFF of people and HR teams. A recent survey by [Gartner](https://www.gartner.com/en/human-resources/topics/artificial-intelligence-in-hr#:~:text=Drive organizational success by implementing,compared to those that do.) states that 76% of HR leaders believe that if their organization does not adopt and implement AI solutions, such as generative AI, in the next 12 to 24 months, they will be lagging in organizational success compared to those that do.

Our experts expect AI to make HR processes smoother and faster while enhancing the employee experience:

"I see technology automating and simplifying processes to create a better employee experience and to provide transparency to employees about HR process and practices. AI should provide better support for employee questions related to HR," said Heather Boetto, Manager, HRIS, and Total Rewards, Community Health Plan of Washington.

“Emerging technologies like AI will help employees find what they want to know when they want to know it.” — Adam Weber, Chief Evangelist at 15Five

"We expect that there will be a lot more AI advancement in the HR processes and programs utilized, " said Anastasiya Avdeyev, Benefits and Leave Specialist, Community Health Plan of Washington.

“Greater use of AI and technology in benefits, continuous focus on human-centric and employee wellness and benefits to compete for talent while the unemployment market remains low, “says Priya Bhavar, Sr. Director of Total Rewards at WP Engine.

According to Danielle Barker, the HR director, people and culture, at Officeworks, “Emerging technologies, like AI, automation, and data analytics, will be crucial in enhancing the employee experience. These advancements will likely streamline HR processes, improve decision-making, and contribute to a more efficient and personalized workplace. Key areas that might be impacted include recruitment, performance management, learning and development, and employee well-being programs.”

Moreover, AI will also be used for training, career development, and employee feedback, to name just a few examples. Ashlee Boruff, an HR benefits coordinator, said, “technology is constantly affecting HR. I expect technology to go beyond our basic HR needs and make day-to-day tasks quicker.”

Through natural language processing and sentiment analysis, AI can analyze employee surveys, feedback forms, and even informal communications to identify emerging trends, concerns, or areas for improvement.

This real-time, data-driven approach to employee feedback can enable organizations to proactively address issues, foster open communication, and cultivate a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

IBM says AI will “give jobs more meaning by putting the employee in the driver’s seat. AI has the potential to transform the employee experience.

It can automate repetitive tasks, letting people focus on what they are passionate about, freeing up their time for skills development or work-life balance, and potentially create exciting new job roles and career paths. It’s important to engage employees in this process.”

Chapter 4: There will be an increased focus on retention, upskilling, and talent development

The job market is a competitive place. If you want your company to stand out and keep your best employees around, you have to zero in on helping them grow and build up their skills. It's all about a game plan that wraps around growing leaders, pushing professional boundaries, and knitting together a work vibe that's all about support, staying engaged, and never stopping learning. This is the secret sauce for any place looking to survive and kill it in today's job scene.

Leadership and management development

The development of leadership and management capabilities is being spotlighted as a foundational element of organizational success. Emphasizing leadership training ensures the consistent application of policies and fosters a culture of care and engagement. This is crucial in empowering leaders to navigate the complexities of today's dynamic work environments, drive positive change, and inspire their teams.

Alisha Hernandez emphasized this and said, "leadership and development will be of top priority because things are constantly changing, and employees will need to be up-skilled, re-skilled, and be able to pivot."

Empowering professional growth and career mobility

Professional development and the opportunity to advance within an organization are being recognized as key factors in employee retention and satisfaction. Organizations are actively setting up career pathing frameworks for all positions, aiding development and succession planning. Such initiatives support employees' individual growth and secure a pipeline of skilled talent ready to step into leadership roles as needed. "Setting up career pathing for all of our positions will help with development and succession planning," said Rhonda Bruns at Citizens State Bank.

A culture of continuous learning and adaptability

Creating a caring work culture and environment where continuous learning is valued is becoming increasingly important. The ability to up-skill and re-skill, allowing employees to adapt to new challenges and opportunities, is seen as essential. This adaptability ensures that the workforce remains competitive and can pivot in response to industry trends and technological advancements.

“Retaining employees will be huge, but hiring the correct people will be equally important. Increased leadership training will also be a huge change for our company this year.” — Olivia Zerr, Director of Operations at Your Money Line

Chapter 5: Companies will need to be strategic with their benefits

Employee benefits are an essential component of any organization's strategy. As we enter 2024, it's becoming increasingly important for leadership teams to approach employee benefits strategically. The goal is to meet employee needs effectively while also maintaining fiscal responsibility.

In the face of rising operational costs in 2023, businesses were navigating a tightrope between budget constraints and the necessity to offer competitive benefits. With health benefit costs expected to climb even higher, companies are under pressure to devise strategies that balance enhanced employee benefits with financial sustainability. Benefits Pro highlights this balancing act as a significant challenge for the foreseeable future. Industry experts we talked to emphasized this as well:

Jennifer Buell at Envita Solutions captures the sentiment of many employers: "Financial stewardship is becoming increasingly critical, with companies scrutinizing both benefits costs and salaries. The financial strain felt by employees is a reflection of broader economic pressures."

Priya Bhavsar, Sr Director of Total Rewards at WP Engine, emphasizes the trend towards more meaningful benefits, suggesting, “aligning benefits with company values leads to more purpose-driven and impactful offerings."

The current consensus among employees is that they value benefits packages that are financially viable and rich in offerings.

Companies must, therefore, strategically expand their benefits to ensure they are appealing and economically feasible.

The way things are changing, it's important that employee benefits don't just fit everyone's different needs but also give a good return on investment.

When HR professionals and leadership teams think about it like this, they can create a positive work environment that motivates everyone and aligns with what today's workforce wants.

In conclusion: Building the people-first workplace of tomorrow

As we wrap up our dive into what HR professionals will prioritize and trends we’ll see this year, it's clear that the future of work is not just about embracing new technologies or strategies but about creating a workplace where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered.

For HR professionals, the journey ahead is exciting and challenging, requiring a mix of empathy, innovation, and strategic foresight.

"These benefit solutions have to make life easier for employees, offer some sort of flexibility, or positively impact work-life harmony.” — Rachel Beck, Senior Benefits Analyst at Arapahoe County

Whether it's fostering a culture that celebrates diversity, ensuring career paths are as varied as the people walking them, or simply making sure everyone has the chance to shine, the role of HR has never been more crucial.

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