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Key HR trends in 2024

AI, digitalisation, retention, upskilling, reskilling, all in an uncertain environment. In our complex world, everything is interconnected, so HR has to navigate an increasingly complex set of problems and play a strategic role, while facing unforeseen challenges at any time. What can HR expect in 2024? We will try to give you a broad overview.

HR kulcsfeladatai, felmérés, 2024

One of the revolutionary changes of this year has been the advent of generative artificial intelligence, which everyone is trying to adapt to and get up to speed with the use of the tools available. They are also integrating them into organisational processes, be it recruitment or employee experience, among others. Efficiency is increasing, some human tasks can be outsourced, but where do we draw the line? After all, there has been a succession of figures on how many people's jobs will be affected by AI and in which areas, from production lines to white-collar workers. On the other side, there were arguments on the other side of the coin about how many jobs AI will create, and how it will replace and speed up a lot of otherwise monotonous work, so that there will be more opportunities, for example in HR, to deal with the human and strategic factor. In fact, as the process is underway, we can only speculate, the exact impact cannot yet be measured. Will we manage to strike a balance this year between sensational numbers and everyday reality?

To remain valuable in the labour market in this world, and in many cases to stay in a job at all, training and retraining (up- and reskilling) cannot be avoided, where both individual and employer responsibility are involved. As the education system cannot adapt sufficiently to the pace of change in the world of work (technology), workplaces inevitably become sites of work-based, on-the-job learning, whether we like it or not, so it seems better to accept this situation and consciously incorporate it into the system. In addition, there is a growing tendency for companies to introduce themselves to the younger generations as early as possible, so that they are no longer just trying to establish links with universities, but also with secondary and even primary schools. In other words, to bring the world of work into education.

Why is digitalisation and training still not in focus?

In this light alone, the results of our reader survey are interesting. For years we have been asking at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year what will be the key HR task for the year, and for years retention has been the clear winner of this non-representative "survey". However, in comparison, digitalisation and employee training and development receive barely a few votes. This is of course partly understandable in a market with at least structural labour shortages, and retention is a very broad topic, but it is peculiar how much digitalisation and employee training still do not get much attention in the current macro environment.

Leadership development is even more overshadowed. In fact, it is at the bottom of our poll's list of priorities. Leaders are the ones who define the organisational culture, the leadership style and the personality of the leaders are the decisive factors in how good a workplace is to work in or how many people leave. In Gartner's survey, in which 500 HR leaders in 40 countries were polled to identify priorities and challenges for 2024, leadership development was ranked number one. The other top five were organisational culture, HR technology, change management, career management and internal mobility.

HR professionals have a particularly difficult job because, as we reported, more and more companies are calling employees back to the office, but only 26% of companies are fully meeting their attendance requirements. 50% of employees consider their current performance to be unsustainable, and half of employees trust only their employer.

A lack of a workforce with the right skills continues to threaten business objectives at a quarter of companies.

More than two-thirds of senior executives believe the benefits of AI outweigh the risks. At the same time, only 22% of HR professionals are engaging in deeper communication about AI.

And amidst all this, owners and management expect efficiency and productivity.

Overworked and unprepared leaders

Three quarters of HR leaders say three quarters of managers feel overwhelmed by the demands of their job responsibilities, and also nearly as many HR leaders say managers are not prepared enough to lead change.

While many companies are looking at leadership skills development, even trying to get their hands on new technology to improve performance and looking after their wellbeing, half of those who are underpaid say they will not be able to lead their teams to success in the next two years. There are a number of reasons why this may not be helped by skills development: one is that more than half of managers feel they have more to do than they can manage effectively. And one in five would not be a manager if they had a choice. So it's no wonder that only half of employees feel that their manager has empathy for them.

So many companies have realised that leadership development alone is not enough, the job needs to be "rewritten" in certain respects. This requires 4 critical steps, according to a Gartner summary:

1. Redesign the job expectations, for example, so that the manager can direct employees to the right professionals for coaching and development, and the manager can focus on tasks that only he or she can accomplish.

2. Rebuild the supply chain. Candidates for leadership should be given the opportunity early on to experience the hardest parts of the job, and if they don't like it, to step back from that career path.

3.Rewiring leadership habits. If an organization pays attention to developing the right leadership habits, it can increase job effectiveness by up to 71%

4. Reducing unnecessary rules. Let HR remove bureaucratic rules from processes that do not add value but create obstacles.

The hybrid challenge: physical rather than emotional closeness

41% of HR leaders say that hybrid working is a threat to organisational culture. 47% of the same respondents don't know how they can promote organisational culture change. A sense of belonging among colleagues is damaged when hybrid working occurs, but this is because there is a lack of conscious effort to create it.

Leaders need to motivate colleagues to connect to the company culture, working from wherever they are. Not just the office should convey the culture, but the work itself. Make emotional closeness the basis of connection rather than physical closeness, so that the employee feels "seen" even when not in the office. It is worthwhile to build and facilitate micro-communities through which to create connection and transmit culture.

HR technology: uncertainty

60% of HR leaders are uncertain about the impact of new technologies, and 56% feel that the technology they use and have at their disposal does not meet current and future business needs.

76% of HR leaders believe that if they don't incorporate generative AI into their processes in the next 1-2 years, they will be left behind the competition. However, they are in a difficult position as there is a very wide range. For example, a clear framework needs to be developed to select the right technologies.

- The necessary governance processes need to be put in place;

- assess the impact on current and future work, whether the skills and capabilities are in place;

- assess the risks and ethical implications

- assess the market (is it worth developing your own technology or can the desired results be achieved with existing technologies)

Change management: planning for fatigue

77% of HR leaders believe colleagues are tired and 82% think managers are not prepared for change management. The volume and speed of change is overwhelming employees. Fatigue, if not managed consciously, can have a serious impact on employee well-being and therefore on the achievement of organisational goals.Some indicators: 42% fewer people want to stay in the workplace, 30% less trust in the organisation, 27% less sustainable performance.

This is why it is not enough to have a change management plan in place, you need to include a "fatigue management" plan. Identify what leads to fatigue, managers need to be able to assess what the primary drivers are. It is important to exercise empathy and open communication so that colleagues can participate in the planning of the implementation. Psychological safety throughout the process is important, as is proactive rest.

Career management and internal mobility

89% of HR leaders think that colleagues in their organisation do not have a clear view of career paths. And 66% say that if there are opportunities, they are not very tempting. The analysis shows that traditional career plans no longer work. One in three employees don't know where they will be in their career progression in the next five years. And only one in four is confident about their opportunities within the organisation. The solution is to take an agile approach to building career paths: aligning employee and business goals. Employees can be helped to search the available career paths and HR can promote and facilitate internal mobility. Adaptive career planning can be an effective tool to help adapt to needs. It not only allows employees to see through a list of offers, but also makes it clear to them what skills and experience they need and how they can get them.

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