Some of the softer elements of HR may be scaled down next year, continuing downward trends seen in 2023 as employers faced a variety of technology and workforce issues, from the tsunami of AI-related challenges to business conditions that seem less-than-steady.
One result of this is a weakened commitment to employee experience, which has led to a variety of strikes, walkouts, extended bargaining and employees’ growing tendency to ignore workforce policies.
In a blog post, Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst J.P. Gownder predicts the emphasis on employee experience will continue to soften during 2024. At the same time, he believes the use of AI could improve experience and drive business growth at the same time.
Culture and Human Behavior
Forrester’s view of experience trends includes DEI as well as culture and engagement issues, in both workforce management and talent acquisition. Gownder highlights three areas whose dynamics will be notable next year:
- Employee Engagement: Efforts to improve engagement and strengthen culture will be deemphasized as budgets become more competitive and leaders turn their attention elsewhere. The result: an “EX winter.” Between 2022 and 2023, engagement fell from 41% to 37% while “culture energy” dropped from 63% to 59%. Forrester believes that downward movement will continue in 2024, with engagement ending up at 34% and culture energy at 55%.
- DEI: The number of companies active in DEI – with a DEI function and an organizational strategy – declined from 33% in 2022 to 27% this year. During 2024, Forrester expects that number to drop even further, to 20%. A number of businesses will pursue their DEI efforts through “check the box” efforts more than anything else.
- AI and Recruiting: While AI’s impact will be felt across HR, its effects will be particularly acute in recruiting. Already candidates are using AI to spam employers while recruiters use it to screen a large and often-unruly pool of applicants. “Misconnections, mischief and mayhem” are sure to follow, Gownder said. “At least one well-known company will hire a candidate who doesn’t actually exist, and at least one well-known company will hire a candidate for a job that doesn’t actually exist.”
While most employers plan to invest in some kind of EX/HCM software next year, they’ll be looking for improved efficiency in HR rather than strengthening their experience efforts and improving outcomes. “This,” the report said, “will create an opportunity for companies that consciously choose to zig toward EX while so many others are zagging away from it.”