As 2023 begins to wind down, we find ourselves in that exciting time of year where we bid adieu to the past and eagerly embrace the opportunities of the future. It’s the season of year-end project wrap-ups, strategic planning for the coming year, and, of course, the cherished tradition of perusing “top lists.” Just as the most-played songs on your Spotify playlist have soundtracked your year, these top 5 trends in HR communications for 2024 are here to set the tempo for your HR communications journey next year.
So, grab your coffee and your favorite tunes, because I’m about to unveil the 5 key HR communication trends that will shape the way we connect, engage, and retain in the year ahead.
Be on the lookout for this series as we dive deep into each of these leading up to the new year.
Drum roll please…the top 5 trends in HR communications for 2024:
- Navigating the hybrid work dilemma: Discussions regarding remote and hybrid work strategies continue to be a central theme for leaders and HR professionals as we venture into 2024. Studies indicate a rising interest among workers for greater flexibility, whether through a hybrid work model or exclusively working remotely, while simultaneously noting an uptick in feelings of isolation.
- Creating a consumer-like employee experience: The modern employee wants a modern, personalized employee experience. Traditional HR communications—sending emails, posting an update on a stagnant intranet page, or assigning a long eLearning with email reminders—is out of touch and ineffective. Employees want the same amazing experience they get when ordering from Amazon and other companies: a personalized, omni-channel campaign designed to reach them on their preferred channel with the information they need right at that moment.
- Optimizing the digital tech stack: HR typically manages several systems of records and more than 20 vendors. In a more hybrid/remote world, HR plays a critical role in orchestrating the way employees navigate their technology ecosystem to access resources and communication vital for their job performance and overall engagement.
- Integrating generative AI in HR: You won’t find a top-5 list without AI as a continued trend in 2024. Generative AI is rapidly becoming integral to the HR landscape, and its influence is set to grow even further. As we anticipate continuous advancements in automation and AI, HR professionals should prepare for the seamless integration of AI into technologies and various aspects of their work—from recruitment to onboarding and everyday HR tasks.
- Focusing on mental health and employee wellbeing: Since 2020, discussion around employee wellbeing has gained significant momentum, and this momentum will continue into 2024. The benefit of focusing on employee wellbeing? Companies that have done so have experienced substantial boosts in productivity, according to recent studies.
To close out this first blog in the series, let’s dive a little deeper into the first trend:
Navigating the hybrid work dilemma
The conversation about remote and hybrid work policies will remain a focal point for HR professionals in 2024 and beyond. Research shows a growing desire among employees for increased flexibility, either via a hybrid work arrangement or full-time remote work. And yet, research also shows that employees are lonelier than ever. A study conducted by ServiceNow and ThoughtLab reveals remote and hybrid employees are struggling with elevated levels of stress and isolation.
While the solution may appear straightforward—return everyone to the physical office—the reality is more complex. Employees are demonstrating a strong preference for remote work, with 87% preferring it. So, what steps can HR take to address this remote hybrid dilemma? Given the unique dynamics of each organizational culture and business objectives and the specific needs of employees, HR’s role lies in conducting surveys to glean insights and listen to the voices of the workforce before making any definitive decisions, while also balancing that with the demands of the business.
If the data points toward a hybrid policy as the favored path (which seems to be the way the data is leaning) the challenge for HR is to find effective ways to connect with remote employees—fostering a sense of culture and community while combating loneliness and ensuring the seamless dissemination of mission-critical communications in a remote work environment.
In this remote landscape, technology emerges as a vital enabler. HR and communications professionals are tasked with using technology to create genuine human connections. Practical examples include setting up “virtual water cooler” moments via platforms like Slack, facilitating brief team huddles for informal check-ins, organizing coffee chats with cross-functional team members, or even simply allocating time in team meetings to inquire about the wellbeing of colleagues. At Firstup, we utilize our communication platform to bolster employee connections. We encourage employees to acknowledge one another in the “Celebrating Our People” topic, share innovative ideas in the “Eye on AI” topic, and discuss cultural traditions in the “DE&I” and “Firstup Fun” categories. The overarching aim of these examples is to create room for those much-needed informal “human moments,” recognizing that the traditional “water cooler” and lunchroom interactions are not always accessible in a remote work landscape.
HR professionals and communicators will continue the hybrid work conversation into 2024, discussing policies, technology, and how best to create culture and connection in an ever-changing and distant landscape.
Next week, I will take a look at the second trend—creating a consumer-like employee experience—and what that means for you in 2024.