2024 Predictions

What are the most Important things HR will need to focus on in 2024?

Image of a ball on a table with the text "2024" inside it

Ernest Ng

Ernest Ng, PhD, serves as the VP of Strategy and Research at HiredScore, specializing in business strategy and AI-driven HR innovations. His extensive experience includes roles at Salesforce, The Walt Disney Company, and the California Department of Education. Additionally, he teaches HR Analytics as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Southern California.

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As we cross into 2024, many of us are glad that 2023 is behind us. Beyond the current state of world affairs, most corporate leaders have been challenged by the financial markets, including almost 600 corporate bankruptcies in 2023, per the S&P Global Intelligence, the highest since 2011. HR leaders have certainly not been immune to this with over 50% of HR leaders experiencing cut or flat budgets in 2023 while being expected to do more, according to Gartner.

Given the challenges and rate of change ahead for many leaders, especially in human resources, will likely only continue to climb, the start of 2024 brings a chance to collect the wisdom of fellow experts and innovators to help us prepare as best we can. So, we reached out to our customers and community to ask for anonymous responses to three questions: 

  1. What is the most important thing HR will need to focus on in 2024?
  2. What is one HR idea that is overhyped, under delivering, or less impactful that you predict will be talked about less going forward?
  3. Your top prediction for how AI is going to impact our industry in the coming year

Their responses were revealing and hopefully beneficial as you prepare your teams ahead:

Most Important Thing HR Will Need to Focus on in 2024:

1. Drive Efficiency and Back to Basics

After a post-COVID art of the possible, big transformation programs, and the past year of cost cutting, reducing headcount, and reevaluating operating models, we can confidently state that most orgs are focused on simplification. That entails focusing on efficiency with resources and maximizing output with what you’re given. “Delivering value at the same service level with diminishing resources.” While many loathe to admit it, Milton Friedman’s words “the business of business is business” is back with a vengeance in every boardroom. “Rightsizing, automating tasks, and managing costs.” When money gets more expensive, it sharpens your focus and you prioritize need-to-haves versus nice-to-haves, and the primary need-to-have for employees, according to Dave Ulrich, is a successful business. Along with this comes the prediction of less of the big multi-year ‘transform everything’ programs, replaced by proven, quick to deliver ROI, lower cost to launch and maintain, and ‘stackable’ incremental projects.

2. AI-Driven Changes to the Way We Work 

In our need to deliver efficiencies, AI is seen as an indispensable tool for every department, and there is a recognition that we, as humans, must swiftly change how we work to incorporate AI; “How to work with versus against AI.” Operating models are going to have to shift as AI reduces the need for ‘middlewoman’ and enables decision makers, such as hiring managers and employees, to operate more independently.  AI is also shortening time to mastery and elevating less experienced workers to better performers, thereby quickening their expectation of new challenges and continual growth at a time when HR is already struggling to meet today’s demands. As such, leaders and boards are already looking to HR to provide the clarity and solutions to the heatmap of disruption across their workforce and how they will work.

3. Helping Employees Navigate Change

Beyond the changes to the way we work, the very work itself and the need to continually evolve to be relevant for that work will be the new responsibility of HR Leaders. As “Gen AI use cases expand and implementation accelerates,” it’s not just a new tool, it’s an ongoing process that will continually force changes in employees' relationships with their employer. Today’s approach to change management, from comms, to gantt charts, and user training, will not cut it. Shepherding employees and their managers in a scalable, efficient, and effective way is going to be a new people leader competency, as the pace of change only accelerates further.  

Overhyped, Under-delivering, or Less Impactful:

As important as what we focus on is what we don’t focus on, leading to a speculation that some of 2023’s most hyped topics will be moved out of the spotlight. 

Points scored

The concept identified by our survey respondents as most overhyped and underperforming is the disproportionate emphasis on “skills.” They anticipate a decrease in attention from HR leaders on this aspect. Despite the appeal of marketing catch phrases such as “the future of hiring is skills” and “skill-based organizations,” which resonate with the ideals of learning, development, and creating opportunities that many HR professionals ardently advocate, the reality in a business environment prioritizing efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes lies in the importance of details and execution. And when you dig into the details, you quickly realize that just because HR wants something to be true, it doesn’t mean the business will go along with it. Just because HR wants to hire for skills, ultimately, it’s the hiring manager in the business that’s held accountable for the outcomes of their decisions or processes and compliance, such as job libraries and validation, that must first be addressed.

And as a result, the convergence of the CRM-Talent Marketplace-Skills solutions promoted to be the silver-bullet to how leaders can future-proof their workforce, address rapid job change, and become a skills-based organization just have not delivered. Those with decades of experience in this field have always supported how important incorporating a skills-based approach as part of a broader strategy is but never fully embraced the revolutionary and simplified messaging. The challenges facing HR are some of the hardest and most complex problems in generations. Simple slogans, new skills engines, and hoping managers take chances on non-traditional candidates is not a great strategy. But many organizations that bought into this concept are now experiencing the consequences of their decisions, struggling with the very long timelines to convert deeply embedded processes such as job architectures, and the accompanying difficult implementation, high costs to launch and maintain, continual change management, and lack of pragmatic solutions. 

Check out Sean Hinton’s, Founder and CEO of SkyHive, recent LinkedIn post about why it’s not so simple. Even Josh Bersin has recognized that it’s harder than it was made out to be. The irresponsible marketing of skills as a panacea for all your future of work ills has actually set back the movement. And from the survey results of these HR leaders, it appears we should reduce the oversimplification of skills as the solution to all our future of work issues. Instead, we should start unbundling the various components of the business problems and look at skills as one of many components needed to solve complex HR issues.

Second, and adjacent to skills, that many want to stop talking about is the “talent/gig marketplaces”. Again, a good concept but never as simple to make work as the marketing painted it to be. I recently wrote a blog about talent marketplaces that systematically broke down all the issues around implementing a talent marketplace. With the shift back to productivity, efficiency, and basics, every employee is not going to have extra capacity to take on projects for development. Every function is being asked to do more with less. If you’re not executing on the fundamentals, no manager is going to have the capacity to allow his/her employee to take on a gig or project if it impacts their ability to deliver on current responsibilities. And if it doesn’t impact current responsibilities, unfortunately, that probably means he/she doesn’t have enough responsibilities for his/her role. 

Given that’s the case, the third thing our respondents want to stop talking about is “wellbeing” and debating “getting people back to the office and all the time and effort to manage it”. Clearly, the prediction here is that the employer will have more influence on employee routines. After about a decade of prioritizing employee preferences, it seems like the pendulum is shifting back towards a pragmatic approach to productivity in 2024. Even though unemployment is low, many of the tech companies demonstrated that headcount growth was not totally correlated with revenue growth leaving many companies evaluating if they really need all their current headcount, especially with all the hype around Generative AI.  

But the hype around Generative AI is something some are getting tired of hearing. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” There is clearly promise there, but given the focus in 2024 on getting back to the basics, the time for experimenting with generative AI features, especially those without clear productivity gains, seems like a distraction. According to a recent BCG article, 54% of executives expect AI to deliver cost savings in 2024 primarily through gains in productivity and effectiveness. As such, there are other tried and tested AI use cases that have demonstrated results on productivity that have yet to be deployed in more organizations, why start with the untested? 

And lastly, and unfortunately, is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Pushed to the forefront of organizational conversation by social movements and tech companies, they cut many of those programs and staff in 2023, and some of the biggest champions of this movement have been convicted of fraud, or their ideas found to be less than credible. It’s also hard to know how the current political landscape is impacting this, or if it is that diversity and inclusion initiatives, without significant causal, not correlational, demonstration of its contribution to productivity and organizational performance, are becoming scaled back and viable initiatives to cut. 

How I’m interpreting their responses is that the days of nice to haves being marketed into need to haves is over. There are fundamental shifts going on in everyone’s businesses, and as much as HR wants to continue progressing skills, employee wellbeing, and DEI, either the lack of realized value and sufficient impact of past initiatives or the focus on consolidation and efficiency in 2024, or both, are leading to a rethinking of these key past trends.

Predictions of AI:

So what are our esteemed group predicting about the impact of AI? 2024 will see three primary theme around AI:

1. Disruption everywhere

Some quotes: “Embrace and use this technology or be left behind,” “Significant disruption to work and employment in HR function,” and “We need to embrace it and change the way we work.” Given these are HiredScore customers and partners, meaning they are already using and finding value with our AI solution in their HR organizations, they are predicting that this will only accelerate and resistance to greater expansion will be futile, as the business is demanding to do more with less. If you’re not examining every part of HR from first principles, and asking yourself, “Is this workflow a pre-AI way of operating and are there ways AI can help me leapfrog, gain efficiencies, and deliver more impact?”, you’re putting your organization at risk of getting disrupted. The AI is getting better every day, see Google Gemini demo and the chart below:

2. Cautious, but Necessary, AI Experimentation

Many are predicting that “co-pilots” will be automating tasks and increasing productivity, but also “It will continue to be confusing to practitioners and the divide between the haves and the have nots will grow.” Another predicts that “it won’t be as widely adopted as the hype,” and another thinks it’s 2-3 years away before the tons of impact are realized. So it’s time for AI to deliver, now! If you’re not able to get deployed quickly, demonstrate value immediately, and your AI’s impact isn’t proven with other customers, it’s not worth the time and distraction from executing on the fundamentals of the business.

3. “Legislation, legislation, legislation”

One of the primary reasons AI will be a distraction if it’s not tried, tested, and trusted, is because of legislation. There is a lot of legislation being discussed and enacted around the globe putting legal teams on high alert. Keeping track of all the various laws is going to be a lot, and if compliance isn’t your AI vendor’s love language, it’s going to be difficult to get an AI through your legal teams. But know that it’s not impossible, because the value and returns are impactful. 

Final Thoughts

2024 will be about delivery, efficiency, and productivity. There’s no time to waste, and there’s no time like now. 

We are so thankful for our wonderful customers and friends for sharing their thoughts, trusting us to help deliver that safe, compliant, and trusted AI so they can drive their business forward, and joining us on this journey to orchestrate HR with AI. If you’re looking for an AI for HR partner, schedule your demo and ask for our AI readiness workshop, today.

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2024 Predictions

By Ernest Ng

What are the most Important things HR will need to focus on in 2024?

Ready to see what HiredScore can do for you?
Request a demo

As we cross into 2024, many of us are glad that 2023 is behind us. Beyond the current state of world affairs, most corporate leaders have been challenged by the financial markets, including almost 600 corporate bankruptcies in 2023, per the S&P Global Intelligence, the highest since 2011. HR leaders have certainly not been immune to this with over 50% of HR leaders experiencing cut or flat budgets in 2023 while being expected to do more, according to Gartner.

Given the challenges and rate of change ahead for many leaders, especially in human resources, will likely only continue to climb, the start of 2024 brings a chance to collect the wisdom of fellow experts and innovators to help us prepare as best we can. So, we reached out to our customers and community to ask for anonymous responses to three questions: 

  1. What is the most important thing HR will need to focus on in 2024?
  2. What is one HR idea that is overhyped, under delivering, or less impactful that you predict will be talked about less going forward?
  3. Your top prediction for how AI is going to impact our industry in the coming year

Their responses were revealing and hopefully beneficial as you prepare your teams ahead:

Most Important Thing HR Will Need to Focus on in 2024:

1. Drive Efficiency and Back to Basics

After a post-COVID art of the possible, big transformation programs, and the past year of cost cutting, reducing headcount, and reevaluating operating models, we can confidently state that most orgs are focused on simplification. That entails focusing on efficiency with resources and maximizing output with what you’re given. “Delivering value at the same service level with diminishing resources.” While many loathe to admit it, Milton Friedman’s words “the business of business is business” is back with a vengeance in every boardroom. “Rightsizing, automating tasks, and managing costs.” When money gets more expensive, it sharpens your focus and you prioritize need-to-haves versus nice-to-haves, and the primary need-to-have for employees, according to Dave Ulrich, is a successful business. Along with this comes the prediction of less of the big multi-year ‘transform everything’ programs, replaced by proven, quick to deliver ROI, lower cost to launch and maintain, and ‘stackable’ incremental projects.

2. AI-Driven Changes to the Way We Work 

In our need to deliver efficiencies, AI is seen as an indispensable tool for every department, and there is a recognition that we, as humans, must swiftly change how we work to incorporate AI; “How to work with versus against AI.” Operating models are going to have to shift as AI reduces the need for ‘middlewoman’ and enables decision makers, such as hiring managers and employees, to operate more independently.  AI is also shortening time to mastery and elevating less experienced workers to better performers, thereby quickening their expectation of new challenges and continual growth at a time when HR is already struggling to meet today’s demands. As such, leaders and boards are already looking to HR to provide the clarity and solutions to the heatmap of disruption across their workforce and how they will work.

3. Helping Employees Navigate Change

Beyond the changes to the way we work, the very work itself and the need to continually evolve to be relevant for that work will be the new responsibility of HR Leaders. As “Gen AI use cases expand and implementation accelerates,” it’s not just a new tool, it’s an ongoing process that will continually force changes in employees' relationships with their employer. Today’s approach to change management, from comms, to gantt charts, and user training, will not cut it. Shepherding employees and their managers in a scalable, efficient, and effective way is going to be a new people leader competency, as the pace of change only accelerates further.  

Overhyped, Under-delivering, or Less Impactful:

As important as what we focus on is what we don’t focus on, leading to a speculation that some of 2023’s most hyped topics will be moved out of the spotlight. 

Points scored

The concept identified by our survey respondents as most overhyped and underperforming is the disproportionate emphasis on “skills.” They anticipate a decrease in attention from HR leaders on this aspect. Despite the appeal of marketing catch phrases such as “the future of hiring is skills” and “skill-based organizations,” which resonate with the ideals of learning, development, and creating opportunities that many HR professionals ardently advocate, the reality in a business environment prioritizing efficiency, effectiveness, and outcomes lies in the importance of details and execution. And when you dig into the details, you quickly realize that just because HR wants something to be true, it doesn’t mean the business will go along with it. Just because HR wants to hire for skills, ultimately, it’s the hiring manager in the business that’s held accountable for the outcomes of their decisions or processes and compliance, such as job libraries and validation, that must first be addressed.

And as a result, the convergence of the CRM-Talent Marketplace-Skills solutions promoted to be the silver-bullet to how leaders can future-proof their workforce, address rapid job change, and become a skills-based organization just have not delivered. Those with decades of experience in this field have always supported how important incorporating a skills-based approach as part of a broader strategy is but never fully embraced the revolutionary and simplified messaging. The challenges facing HR are some of the hardest and most complex problems in generations. Simple slogans, new skills engines, and hoping managers take chances on non-traditional candidates is not a great strategy. But many organizations that bought into this concept are now experiencing the consequences of their decisions, struggling with the very long timelines to convert deeply embedded processes such as job architectures, and the accompanying difficult implementation, high costs to launch and maintain, continual change management, and lack of pragmatic solutions. 

Check out Sean Hinton’s, Founder and CEO of SkyHive, recent LinkedIn post about why it’s not so simple. Even Josh Bersin has recognized that it’s harder than it was made out to be. The irresponsible marketing of skills as a panacea for all your future of work ills has actually set back the movement. And from the survey results of these HR leaders, it appears we should reduce the oversimplification of skills as the solution to all our future of work issues. Instead, we should start unbundling the various components of the business problems and look at skills as one of many components needed to solve complex HR issues.

Second, and adjacent to skills, that many want to stop talking about is the “talent/gig marketplaces”. Again, a good concept but never as simple to make work as the marketing painted it to be. I recently wrote a blog about talent marketplaces that systematically broke down all the issues around implementing a talent marketplace. With the shift back to productivity, efficiency, and basics, every employee is not going to have extra capacity to take on projects for development. Every function is being asked to do more with less. If you’re not executing on the fundamentals, no manager is going to have the capacity to allow his/her employee to take on a gig or project if it impacts their ability to deliver on current responsibilities. And if it doesn’t impact current responsibilities, unfortunately, that probably means he/she doesn’t have enough responsibilities for his/her role. 

Given that’s the case, the third thing our respondents want to stop talking about is “wellbeing” and debating “getting people back to the office and all the time and effort to manage it”. Clearly, the prediction here is that the employer will have more influence on employee routines. After about a decade of prioritizing employee preferences, it seems like the pendulum is shifting back towards a pragmatic approach to productivity in 2024. Even though unemployment is low, many of the tech companies demonstrated that headcount growth was not totally correlated with revenue growth leaving many companies evaluating if they really need all their current headcount, especially with all the hype around Generative AI.  

But the hype around Generative AI is something some are getting tired of hearing. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” There is clearly promise there, but given the focus in 2024 on getting back to the basics, the time for experimenting with generative AI features, especially those without clear productivity gains, seems like a distraction. According to a recent BCG article, 54% of executives expect AI to deliver cost savings in 2024 primarily through gains in productivity and effectiveness. As such, there are other tried and tested AI use cases that have demonstrated results on productivity that have yet to be deployed in more organizations, why start with the untested? 

And lastly, and unfortunately, is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Pushed to the forefront of organizational conversation by social movements and tech companies, they cut many of those programs and staff in 2023, and some of the biggest champions of this movement have been convicted of fraud, or their ideas found to be less than credible. It’s also hard to know how the current political landscape is impacting this, or if it is that diversity and inclusion initiatives, without significant causal, not correlational, demonstration of its contribution to productivity and organizational performance, are becoming scaled back and viable initiatives to cut. 

How I’m interpreting their responses is that the days of nice to haves being marketed into need to haves is over. There are fundamental shifts going on in everyone’s businesses, and as much as HR wants to continue progressing skills, employee wellbeing, and DEI, either the lack of realized value and sufficient impact of past initiatives or the focus on consolidation and efficiency in 2024, or both, are leading to a rethinking of these key past trends.

Predictions of AI:

So what are our esteemed group predicting about the impact of AI? 2024 will see three primary theme around AI:

1. Disruption everywhere

Some quotes: “Embrace and use this technology or be left behind,” “Significant disruption to work and employment in HR function,” and “We need to embrace it and change the way we work.” Given these are HiredScore customers and partners, meaning they are already using and finding value with our AI solution in their HR organizations, they are predicting that this will only accelerate and resistance to greater expansion will be futile, as the business is demanding to do more with less. If you’re not examining every part of HR from first principles, and asking yourself, “Is this workflow a pre-AI way of operating and are there ways AI can help me leapfrog, gain efficiencies, and deliver more impact?”, you’re putting your organization at risk of getting disrupted. The AI is getting better every day, see Google Gemini demo and the chart below:

2. Cautious, but Necessary, AI Experimentation

Many are predicting that “co-pilots” will be automating tasks and increasing productivity, but also “It will continue to be confusing to practitioners and the divide between the haves and the have nots will grow.” Another predicts that “it won’t be as widely adopted as the hype,” and another thinks it’s 2-3 years away before the tons of impact are realized. So it’s time for AI to deliver, now! If you’re not able to get deployed quickly, demonstrate value immediately, and your AI’s impact isn’t proven with other customers, it’s not worth the time and distraction from executing on the fundamentals of the business.

3. “Legislation, legislation, legislation”

One of the primary reasons AI will be a distraction if it’s not tried, tested, and trusted, is because of legislation. There is a lot of legislation being discussed and enacted around the globe putting legal teams on high alert. Keeping track of all the various laws is going to be a lot, and if compliance isn’t your AI vendor’s love language, it’s going to be difficult to get an AI through your legal teams. But know that it’s not impossible, because the value and returns are impactful. 

Final Thoughts

2024 will be about delivery, efficiency, and productivity. There’s no time to waste, and there’s no time like now. 

We are so thankful for our wonderful customers and friends for sharing their thoughts, trusting us to help deliver that safe, compliant, and trusted AI so they can drive their business forward, and joining us on this journey to orchestrate HR with AI. If you’re looking for an AI for HR partner, schedule your demo and ask for our AI readiness workshop, today.