HR and Leadership Development Lessons Learned in 2023 and Trends for 2024

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In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, 2023 was a year of significant transformation.

While ‘The Great Resignation’ might be officially over, those working in HR and Leadership Development heard its echoes up until 2023. A staggering 79% of people would seek new employment due to bad leadership, according to a 2020 survey by Career Addict, ‘Why People Quit Their Jobs.’ Additionally, according to The Society for Human Resources Management’s (SHRM) 2019 report, The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture, employee turnover has created a loss of $223 billion in the U.S. over five years. These stats are not just a wake-up call, but a stark reminder to rethink the ways companies hire, nurture, and manage leaders. 

Poor leadership isn’t the only difficulty, 2023 presented HR with an array of challenges. From attracting suitable talent and strengthening employee-manager relations to re-engaging the workforce, adjusting to a hybrid work model, skill-building, working on DEI initiatives, and more, HR teams grappled with an overwhelming number of complex tasks. These challenges underscored the need for HR to be more adaptable, strategic, and empathetic than ever before, playing a vital role in shaping the future of work in a rapidly changing business landscape. 

2023 was the time when rapid changes took place in the business world, teaching companies the importance of agility and innovation in HR practices, alongside the critical role of leadership in steering teams through change. Leaders showed resilience and innovation by embracing unprecedented challenges and reinventing strategies to nurture an evolving workforce in a changing economic state. But, there’s more to do in the coming years to achieve a robust and adaptive organizational environment. Reflecting on these insights, let’s delve into the key lessons learned in HR and Leadership Development 2023 and the emerging trends for 2024 that are shaping a new era in HR and leadership development.

Key Lessons Learned in Leadership & HR in 2023

2023 was a year of challenges for HR and Leadership sectors and also reshaped the future of organizational strategies. Here are some lessons learned over the past year. 

The Continuation of Hybrid Culture

Remote and hybrid work models continued up until 2023, teaching organizations the importance of flexibility in work arrangements. While HR teams reworked their policies and learned innovative ways of remote hiring, leaders focused on developing cohesive teams and effective communication for enhanced productivity and success. 

Employee Well-Being

Employee well-being directly impacts employee productivity and retention. According to the American Psychological Association’s ‘2023 Work in America Survey’, 92% of workers said it is very (57%) or somewhat (35%) important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being. Leaders who prioritized mental well-being and destigmatized mental health discussions cultivated a more supportive and empathetic workplace culture, leading to higher levels of employee engagement, loyalty, and overall organizational health.

Agile and Resilient Leaders

The unpredictable business environment highlighted the necessity for leaders to be agile, resilient, and adaptable to overcome challenges and boost team morale. Companies understood the importance of agile and resilient leaders and worked with the HR teams to develop training programs that focused on building leaders who could adapt to changing environments, think strategically under pressure, and bounce back from challenges.

Cultural Fit

More than skills and experience, companies learned that aligning a candidate with the company values and culture is a necessity in the changing business world.

Diversity and Inclusivity

Both HR and leadership recognized the importance of fostering diversity and inclusivity among employees. This involved unbiased hiring practices and leadership approaches that embraced varied perspectives and backgrounds.

HR and Leadership Development Trends for 2024

Remote and Hybrid Work Model to Continue

2024 will reshape the business world as organizations develop adaptive and innovative strategies to ensure that HR and leadership align well with the needs of the organization and the employees. Here are some pivotal trends set to redefine how organizations operate and lead in this exciting new chapter, on their path to success.

According to a 2023 Bankrate survey, 89% of the workforce either prefers 4-day workweeks, remote work, or hybrid work, indicating that hybrid or remote work has become the new normal and organizations need to adapt to this change. HR and leaders must invent ways to build cohesive teams that can work collaboratively, irrespective of their geographical location. They need to establish robust ways of communication besides creating a work environment that makes employees feel valued and supported.

Data-Driven Hiring

Besides substantial financial setbacks, a poor hire leads to decreased productivity, lower employee morale, and high employee turnover affecting the organization in the long run. In 2024, organizations need to focus on data-driven hiring that takes a comprehensive approach to talent acquisition. With insights, HR leaders can not only align candidates with organizational values, culture, and the required skills but also eliminate any likelihood of bias, ensuring an efficient and robust search process.

Use of Technology

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are paving new ways in HR and leadership. Gartner’s report, AI in HR: The Ultimate Guide to Implementing AI in Your HR Organization, says “a massive 81% of HR leaders have explored or implemented AI solutions to improve process efficiency within their organization.”  HR and leaders can make use of AI and ML to enhance recruitment strategies, analyze employee performance, personalize learning programs, optimize talent management, and predict employee success within the organization, besides other tasks. 

Robust Hiring Process

Evolving skill shortages, candidate experience, and expectations, changing workforce demographics, low retention and high turnover rates, and economic and political uncertainties are some of the reasons talent acquisition is a challenge in 2024. An inefficient hiring process negatively impacts employee morale, team dynamics, productivity, and overall organizational efficiency, which is why a robust hiring process is paramount in the highly competitive business world to ensure the attraction and retention of top talent, alignment with organizational goals, and long-term success.

Leadership Development

Gartner’s 2023 survey and report, Top 5 HR Trends and Priorities for 2024 says one of the top two priorities for HR leaders in 2024 is a leader and manager development. HR expects front-line managers to guide teams to success through evolving business challenges, especially when teams are geographically distributed.

However, the pressure to lead and guide a whole team toward success, along with the fear of failure and the pressure to perform, creates a feeling of self-doubt amongst the leaders, leaving them vulnerable to anxiety and burnout. In fact, 53% of managers report that they’re burned out at work, according to 2022 research from Microsoft, ‘Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are We Doing It Wrong?’, which surveyed 20,000 people in 11 countries.

These insights and stats are the reasons why training and leadership development is a necessity in any corporate setting. Yet many companies are undervaluing development programs with a 2018 study from West Monroe Partners, ‘Companies are Overlooking a Primary Area for Growth and Efficiency: Their Managers’, stating that “59 % of managers overseeing 1 to 2 people receive no managerial training at all, along with a significant 41% of those who oversee 3 to 5 people.”

The study also states that new managers often mimic their previous bosses when there is no formal training. In fact, “42% of new managers developed their management style through observing a previous manager, rather than through formalized training.”

In 2024, HR teams need to ensure leadership development within the organization so that leaders and front-line managers are equipped with skills to manage stress while effectively guiding their teams through the complexities of the modern business environment.

Upskilling

In a rapidly shifting world, employees and their leaders must stay ahead of the curve and learn new skills. With the advancement of technology, there’s so much to learn and do, efficiently and effectively. Teams must focus on digital competency, critical thinking, and adaptability to new technologies and work models.

ORCA's SMARTHIRING© and Manager Academy© for Organizational Success

ORCA is uniquely positioned to help high-growth organizations increase revenue through investing in their people in 2024.

ORCA’s SMARTHIRING© is a comprehensive hiring strategy that combines objective methodologies with science-based tools to ensure your hiring decisions are grounded in data-driven insights. And, ORCA’s Manager Academy© analyzes the effectiveness of leadership and managers in your organization and helps design customized programs to work on competencies and capabilities. This may include 1-on-1 executive coaching, leadership assessments, and team coaching and training for forward progress.

With our programs, we help organizations meet the evolving needs of the business world, fostering a workforce that is skilled, adaptable, and ready for the challenges ahead.

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