Top five HR trends: From hiring to retention, how businesses can prepare for 2024

After a year of difficult hiring conditions and ongoing skills shortages, Australian businesses were hoping for a break in the new year. Unfortunately, the outlook remains challenging for 2024. The International Monetary Fund predicts growth will slow while unemployment will increase, with inflation, global uncertainty and climate-related shocks adding risk,.

Nevertheless, the future is not all bleak – companies will gain from prioritising worker wellbeing and achieve greater productivity and efficiency with the use of Generative AI. There are five top HR trends for businesses to be aware of in 2024:

1. Hiring and Retention

2023 hasn’t experienced the usual seasonal growth in hiring patterns historically seen during busier periods of the year. Aged care hiring, in particular, has fallen significantly after a rise post-pandemic. According to the latest Sidekicker Index, overall, there’s been a 20% YoY decline in shifts per business, with Hospitality (-36% YoY) and Aged Care (-66% YoY) being the most impacted.

The only sector that is lucky to weather the storm with optimism is Australia’s e-commerce industry, which has already reached $53.29 billion in 2023 and stands to thrive, especially during Black Friday and the coming Christmas season.

As the labour market continues to be tight in 2024, many companies are expected to hold on to their current employees, with others even considering making cuts to staff numbers to combat persistent inflation.

2. The Great Return

Following the Great Resignation after Covid lockdowns, one new trend in 2024 will be workers returning with a vengeance, including retirees. In fact, 80 per cent of those who resignedduring that wave have regretted quitting.

Many older Australians affected by the cost-of-living crisis are also returning to work to supplement retirement income. These mature age workers bring valuable skills and experience to businesses and are being hired by major organisations such as Bunningsand Commonwealth Bank. Research by Robert Half showed that 58 per cent of Australian employers have employed a retiree in the past year, and 37% that have not will consider it in the future. These experienced workers can also be great mentors to younger staff and are able to relate to mature-age customers more easily.

The influx of skilled workers seeking employment after a few years, combined with fewer jobs being offered, may result in oversaturation of the job market in some sectors. This will ease pressure on businesses with so many more skilled people available and make the workplace more diverse.

3. Worker Wellbeing

In 2024, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) will continue transforming workplaces, with more and more workers valuing workplace culture more than just remuneration. In fact, companies that highlight their DEI initiatives may remain more competitive.

With Gen Z workers on the rise, a growing part of the workforce desires a better balance between work and personal life. As a result, mental health awareness in the workplace is expected to increase, making 2024 the year when stronger support is given to employees suffering from burnout or other less visible situations that may affect their wellbeing.

For employers, focusing on worker welfare and mental health will mean lower absenteeism, higher productivity and higher retention. Employee experience also correlates closely with customer experience, making it a vital area of focus and investment.

4. Learning and upskilling

As new technologies emerge at an alarming speed, the emphasis on upskilling will increase. Training staff is vital – making them more productive and valuable –  for favourable retention rates. According to LinkedIn research, employees offered professional development opportunities are more engaged and stay longer.

Career mobility paths are also key in retaining talented and successful people and enhancing employee experience. Investing in staff is an investment in a business’s most valuable asset.

5. Generative Artificial Intelligence

Whether or not GenAI results in widespread job losses, it is undoubtedly changing jobs and workplace processes. We will see this tech integrated across various HR functions, including hiring, predictive analysis and automation, especially in simple routine tasks.

This may have knock-on effects, from reducing staff numbers to increasing efficiency and productivity and enabling people to undertake higher-value tasks and projects. But as the use of AI increases, businesses should expect more discussion and regulation on its ethical use.

With 2024 around the corner, businesses must recognise and adapt to these HR trends to stay ahead. From re-integrating older professionals to leveraging GenAI ethically, the emphasis will be on promoting employee wellbeing, continuous learning and adapting to technological advancements. The resilience and adaptability of HR strategies will ultimately dictate business success.

By Thomas Amos, CEO & Co-Founder, Sidekicker

This article was first published by Kochie’s Business Builders