Happy New Year to you all! I hope the start of 2024 brings you a renewed sense of energy and focus.

Here at HRPA, we believe this is an opportune time for reflection and intention setting for what lies ahead. Looking back at 2023, there’s no doubt that it was a momentous year for HR.

But it was not without its challenges. Recession, a cost-of-living crisis, skills gap and the war for talent were all phrases that dominated the headlines. Toss in some high-profile layoffs and ongoing tensions around remote work and it’s clear that HR had a lot on their plates last year.

But here’s the exciting part – I am fully confident that the obstacles and disruptions of 2023 have paved the way for an even more transformative 2024. This year holds immense potential for HR professionals as we continue to witness monumental shifts in how HR leads and operates at work.

To ensure you’re well-prepared and can take advantage of new opportunities, here’s a look at the seven trends we see shaping HR over the next 12 months.

No surprise AI will be at the top of the HR agenda – and not just this year but for years to come. Many companies are already using AI to enhance their operations, including HR.  Rather than viewing AI as a threat, it should be recognized as a valuable ally. After all, AI has the potential to streamline processes and amplify work efforts, opening up new possibilities for efficiency and effectiveness.

Still, AI comes with serious risks. From algorithmic biases to cybersecurity vulnerabilities, HR and businesses must work together to constantly update workplace policies to address these concerns and adapt to the ever-evolving nature of AI. HR professionals will also play a vital role in preparing workers for these changes and bringing a human-centric approach to AI adoption.

Gone are the days when we solely relied on opinions or waited for data scientists to provide insights for workforce decisions. This year, we expect people analytics to take centre stage, with HR managing and interpreting this data.

Thanks to recent technological advancements, people analytics will become increasingly sophisticated, offering the exciting potential to predict and address pain points even before they arise. Just imagine the power of AI technology that can identify early signs of employee burnout. As we look ahead to 2024, HR professionals must enhance their data analytics skills and leverage it to drive positive outcomes in the workplace.

Here’s the harsh truth: for a number of organizations IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility) often falls to the bottom of the priority list, overshadowed by projects that generate revenue more quickly. We already started seeing that happen in 2023 with some businesses slashing IDEA budgets to maintain financial stability. And unless there is a rapid and sustained improvement in the economy, this unfortunate pattern will likely persist in 2024.

But the business and ethical case for DEI remains clear: IDEA is still a key driver for business success. So, to ensure IDEA remains activated in the workplace, businesses will continue to call upon HR to take charge in this area – often doing more with less. In turn, HR will also continue to be expected to find ways to meaningfully integrate IDEA into recruitment, cultural and retention practices. There may be even a greater push for transparency in reporting to showcase progress in IDEA efforts.

In 2024, the “Three Rs” – retention, recruitment and reskilling – will remain at the forefront of HR professionals’ minds. Talent acquisition strategies will be centred around cultivating a strong talent pipeline through tailored perks and skills-based hiring – and technology will be leveraged to tap into the hidden workforce, which includes caregivers, neurodivergent workers and retirees.

Added to that, employee engagement will be a high priority as many companies are still grappling with the aftermath of disengagement evidenced by quiet quitting, rage applying, and resenteeism.

To bridge the skills gap resulting from the disruptive forces of AI, investing in comprehensive training programs for existing employees will also be important.

Organizational changes are inevitable, but too many disruptions can lead to change fatigue – defined as a sense of apathy or resignation towards company changes. This has been prevalent in the past year, with layoffs, cultural transformations and new return-to-office protocols becoming common occurrences. According to a recent LHH report, 47% of HR teams planned or carried out layoffs in 2023.

HR teams need to recognize the signs of change fatigue and how it’s chipping away at employee trust. 2024 will be the year of rebuilding team trust by prioritizing communication for a safer work environment.

Companies will continue to take different approaches to in-person and remote work. Which means HR teams still need to foster collaboration and maintain a unified workplace culture.

One way to achieve this is by creating an office environment that employees genuinely look forward to. When people are asked to come into the office, it is essential for HR and businesses to inspire a healthy sense of FOMO by providing experiences exclusive to the office. It’s not just about compliance anymore. It’s about enhancing the employee experience and recognizing that the office is much more than just a place to get tasks done. It’s a hub for connection and meaningful collaboration – and can be essential for driving workplace productivity in the long run.

HR teams lean heavily on team leaders to monitor employee satisfaction and act as a set of eyes and ears for employee concerns.

That’s no small task for these managers, who also have to meet their own role requirements and expectations too. In a revealing study conducted in 2023, it was found that a staggering 89% of team-level managers reported experiencing burnout. Looking ahead to 2024, supporting middle managers and providing training in empathetic leadership will be a must for successfully implementing HR’s programming and sustaining optimal performance and employee engagement.

Of course, 2024 is bound to bring about unexpected surprises and challenges. In the meantime, the best thing HR teams can do is to be prepared – and keep a pulse on the ever-evolving HR landscape to effectively meet organizational needs. Continue to enhance your professional development, ensure HR compliance, take advantage of all the HRPA resources available and stay connected with fellow HR professionals, as they can provide valuable insights and support.

I can’t wait to see what you achieve this year and look forward to supporting you in the coming months.

Jodi Kovitz, (She, Her),
HRPA CEO and Acting Registrar