10 Workforce Trends to Expect in 2024
Posted by Lauren Ambrosio on January 4, 2024
As we approach 2024, the workforce landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, driven by technological advancements, shifting employee expectations, and the ongoing impact of global events. From adopting four-day work weeks prioritizing employee well-being to the significant influence of generative AI in reshaping job roles, these trends underscore a critical period of adaptation and innovation.
Let’s discuss ten workforce trends that are being reported for 2024 and how they will impact businesses, and what business leaders need to do to keep up.
1. Four-day work weeks might be the norm for some organizations
The move towards a four-day workweek is largely driven by a growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance and its impact on employee well-being.
Studies show that businesses see lower rates of employee burnout and higher job satisfaction and efficiency when they adopt a four-day workweek. An experiment run by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global included almost 3,000 workers at 61 companies in the UK. The experiment ran for six months and discovered that 92% of companies said that they would permanently implement a four-day workweek, and that 15% of employees said that no amount of money could make them return to a five-day workweek.
A four-day workweek is a new approach to work that aligns more with the changing needs of the modern workforce and the evolving nature of work itself.
2. Hybrid and remote-only work models will become more common
Hybrid work models, blending in-office and remote work, offer crucial flexibility, increasingly preferred by employees for better work-life balance. Shorter commutes, a comfortable home-work environment, and more autonomy drive this preference. Businesses note that such models boost productivity and engagement, as employees report greater satisfaction and efficiency. Post-pandemic, the shift to remote work highlighted these benefits, leading to a lasting interest in hybrid models.
A rise in demand for remote-only jobs
Remote-only jobs offer many benefits, enabling employers to access a global talent pool without geographical restrictions, which aids in sourcing the best talent for specific roles. These jobs also present significant cost savings; employers save on office space costs, while employees save on commuting expenses and time. Additionally, remote work enhances employee well-being by removing commuting stress and offering a comfortable home environment, improving retention rates. Moreover, reducing commuting due to remote work contributes to lower carbon emissions, supporting environmental sustainability.
Studies show a clear preference for remote work opportunities. 60% of workers who have remote-capable jobs want to have a hybrid work schedule, while ~30% are looking for remote-only jobs. Less than 10% want to work in-person.
3. The influence of generative AI in the workplace will explode
Generative AI is revolutionizing the workforce, with its influence set to explode in 2024. This technology is reshaping work environments, from automating tasks to enhancing decision-making.
Expectations for AI in the workplace in 2024 include:
- Wider adoption across industries. AI is being used in more and more industries, from healthcare to manufacturing.
- Bridging the skills gap. There is a growing need for workers with AI skills as more and more companies adopt AI technologies.
- Enhanced collaboration. AI can augment human workers, making them more productive and efficient.
- Ethical and regulatory focus. There is growing attention to the moral and regulatory implications of AI.
- Data-driven decision-making. AI is increasingly being used to make strategic and operational decisions.
Generative AI fundamentally alters the workplace landscape, necessitating an adaptable, tech-savvy workforce ready to collaborate with AI. In 2024, these technologies are expected to be deeply integrated into business operations, shaping the future of work.
4. Digital transformation won’t slow down
Digital transformation is changing the workforce of 2024. Rapid technological advances and evolving business and consumer needs are driving this trend.
Digital transformation can improve efficiency and productivity by automating routine tasks, freeing employees to focus on higher-value work. It can also enhance the customer experience by providing personalized interactions.
Companies that adapt and invest in new technologies and employee skills will be well-positioned to thrive in a digital-centric marketplace.
Here is an overview of digital transformation in 2024:
- Increased adoption of digital technology across various industries.
- A focus on employee experience, including better engagement and remote collaboration.
- Increased emphasis on cybersecurity, including data and infrastructure protection.
- There is a need for ongoing training to keep pace with technology.
Read more: How to Reduce Workplace Stress for Employees
5. Upskilling and reskilling will be front and center
In 2024, upskilling and reskilling will be essential workforce trends. Rapid technological advancements and evolving market needs are driving this trend.
The fast pace of technology is making some existing skills obsolete while creating demand for new ones. This necessitates continuous skill enhancement and learning new competencies to keep employees relevant and efficient.
Upskilling and reskilling are also pivotal in bridging the skills gap created by integrating AI, automation, and digital technologies in the workplace. These practices enhance organizational competitiveness and prepare the workforce for future challenges.
In response, businesses are expected to ramp up investment in training programs, focusing on digital literacy. Additionally, there is a shift towards personalized learning paths and fostering a culture of continuous learning.
6. Employee unhappiness and burnout may reach critical levels
Employee burnout is a critical issue heading into 2024. Factors contributing to burnout include excessive workloads, lack of support, and insufficient work-life balance. Burnout significantly impacts employees' mental health, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and even depression. Certain groups, such as healthcare workers, have been particularly affected.
Employees want flexible work schedules, mental health support, recognition and support, reduced workloads, and opportunities for growth and development.
Data suggests a 40% increase in job burnout in 2024. 81% of employees expect companies to implement mental health initiatives in the coming year. Studies have shown that more flexibility at work can help achieve better work-life balance, reduce stress, and improve employee experience. Remote work and flexible job opportunities have increased, but these alone are insufficient to ensure workers' well-being. Comprehensive support is needed.
Addressing employee burnout in 2024 will require a multifaceted approach from employers. It involves creating flexible work environments, providing mental health support, ensuring reasonable workloads, and fostering a culture that values and supports employees. These measures are beneficial for the employees and crucial for maintaining a productive, engaged, and sustainable workforce.
7. Gen Z will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace
By 2024, Gen Z is projected to outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce. This growing presence means their values, work styles, and expectations will increasingly influence workplace cultures and policies.
Here’s how Gen Z is expected to change the workforce in 2024:
- Gen Z's comfort and proficiency with technology will drive digital transformation in the workplace.
- They are likely to foster a more collaborative and creative work environment, pushing for innovative solutions and new ways of thinking.
- Gen Z values work-life balance and flexibility, which could lead to increased flexible work hours, remote work options, and a focus on mental health and well-being in the workplace.
- This generation is generally more environmentally and socially conscious and prefers to work for companies that demonstrate social responsibility.
- As the most diverse generation, Gen Z values inclusivity and expects their workplaces to reflect this diversity.
- Unlike previous generations accustomed to traditional annual reviews, Gen Z workers prefer continuous feedback and ongoing learning opportunities.
8. COVID-19 will continue to impact healthcare workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted healthcare workers, and this trend has far-reaching implications for the healthcare industry.
Here are the healthcare workforce trends we’re going to keep seeing in 2024:
- The pandemic has led to a mass exodus of workers from the healthcare industry. By 2030, there is an expected shortage of around 18 million healthcare workers globally, about one-fifth of the workforce needed to sustain healthcare systems.
- It increased burnout and mental health issues due to long working hours, high-stress situations, and the emotional toll of dealing with the pandemic.
- Women and people of color in healthcare have been disproportionally affected.
- There is a growing recognition of the need for supportive measures for healthcare workers, including mental health support, efforts to reduce burnout, and policies to ensure the well-being of healthcare staff.
- Healthcare systems and organizations are looking into strategies like attracting new talent, retaining existing staff, and improving the profession's appeal.
- Improving the work environment is crucial in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on healthcare workers. This includes ensuring adequate staffing levels, providing necessary resources, and offering flexible working conditions.
9. Diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) initiatives will evolve across all industries
In 2024, DEI workforce trends are evolving to address new challenges and leverage technological advancements, reflecting a shift towards more inclusive and adaptable workplaces:
- Utilizing AI to identify and mitigate biases in hiring and workplace interactions, while being mindful of inherent biases in AI development.
- Emphasizing flexible work styles, moving away from traditional work structures to attract and retain diverse talent.
- Increasing focus on supporting managers with training and resources to lead in a changing corporate environment.
- Recognizing the need for mental health support in response to societal and global challenges.
- DEI teams and Employee Resource Groups evolving into influential policy and programming leaders within organizations.
- The importance of leaders prioritizing DEI to attract and retain quality talent.
- Adopting tailored DEI strategies that recognize cultural differences across regions.
These trends highlight a growing commitment to creating workplaces that are not only diverse and inclusive but also responsive to the changing needs and expectations of the workforce. They indicate a broader move towards fostering environments where all employees feel valued and supported.
10. Organizations will pivot from educational credentials to a skills-based workforce
Instead of emphasizing formal academic credentials or past employment history, businesses are increasingly valuing the specific skills that candidates bring to the table. This approach prioritizes practical, job-related abilities over traditional qualifications. By removing strict degree requirements for certain job roles, companies can access a broader talent pool. This shift allows individuals who may not have formal education but possess the necessary skills to be considered for roles that were previously inaccessible to them.
As technology rapidly evolves, the skills required in the workforce are also changing quickly. Employers are seeking candidates who can immediately contribute specific, up-to-date skills that align with current technological needs. This trend can lead to economic benefits by filling skill gaps more efficiently and promoting a more inclusive hiring process. It opens up opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those who have acquired skills through non-traditional paths.
This trend is sure to influence the education sector, with an increased focus on practical skill development and alternative learning pathways.
As we navigate these evolving workforce trends in 2024, the importance of being proactive and adaptable cannot be overstated. The landscape of work is changing rapidly, with new demands and opportunities emerging in every sector. To stay ahead, organizations need to embrace these changes, fostering environments that prioritize employee well-being, diversity, and skill development.
Embrace the future of work with tailored workforce solutions
Whether you're adapting to a four-day workweek, integrating generative AI into your operations, or seeking to enhance your DEI initiatives, customized workforce solutions are key. Staying ahead in this dynamic environment requires a partner who understands the nuances of these trends and can provide the tools and strategies to leverage them effectively.
For businesses looking to navigate these changes and capitalize on new opportunities, our team of experts is ready to assist. We offer tailored solutions that align with the latest workforce trends, ensuring your organization is not just prepared for the future of work but thrives in it.
To explore how Penn Foster’s innovative workforce solutions can benefit your organization in this ever-changing landscape, reach out to our experts today. Let's work together to build a more resilient, inclusive, and skilled workforce for 2024 and beyond.