Published: March 21, 2024

On the heels of the pandemic and the Great Resignation and amid economic and political instability, people are reexamining their life choices, especially when it comes to work.

People want quality work experience and career growth while having a good work-life balance to enable them to have a purposeful life.

Case in point: This 2021 report from McKinsey titled “Help your employees find purpose—or watch them leave.”

Unfortunately, while 82% of employees say it is important for their company to see them as a person and not just a worker, only 45% of employees believe their organization truly views them that way, according to a 2023 Gartner report.

Velma Chen, associate professor in the College of Business and Management at Lynn University, explains how successfully implementing the following HR trends can help companies attract and retain the best talent.

1. The hybrid work environment

In March 2023, Gartner predicted that 51% of knowledge workers in the U.S. will work in a hybrid arrangement, and 20% will be fully remote by the end of the year.

“Hybrid work is expected to become the norm,” Chen says. “If HR is not paying attention to this trend, companies could lose a lot of good employees and have difficulties attracting top talent.”

If you’re in a high-tech field, some sort of hybrid work arrangement may already be in place, and/or it just needs to be formally established. As hybrid work increasingly gains acceptance in labor-intensive industries, some companies struggle to foster collaboration and maintain a positive work culture. In these industries, facilitating these routines and company rituals could become its own HR specialty area.

“Creating an organizational culture that will balance the touch and the technology is very important,” says Chen. “If you're in a more labor-intensive industry where a hybrid working environment was not the norm in the past, then HR will need to speed up creating an organizational culture that facilitates hybrid work.”

2. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

It is well-established that diverse businesses perform better, and DEI efforts are significant for boosting recruitment, engagement and retention.

Some say that DEI alone is its own business function and should move out from under the HR umbrella. Chen believes that DEI has always been HR's responsibility.

“HR's role is to promote the celebration of differences and create a culture in which employees at all levels respect each other regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, economic status or country of origin,” says Chen. “The trend here is to continue raising awareness through training and landmark celebrations for both employees and managers.”

3. Mental health and wellness

In light of society’s increased focus on mental health, especially post-pandemic, companies have started emphasizing employee wellness initiatives.

“Promoting employee wellness, mental and spiritual health, good work-life balance—these have always been the job of a good human resources professional,” says Chen.

“I know a chief human resource officer who would tell us that HR carries three important roles: a coach, a parent and a priest. HR professionals should not only perform their roles as good coaches, good parents and good priests, but they need to empower and educate line managers to be executing these roles competently [as well].”

4. Outsourcing/the gig economy

About 60 million Americans freelance at least part-time, according to the Freelancers Union. The gig economy got a boost from the pandemic, and the number of people who freelance for their income continues to rise.

“I've been seeing a trend of an increasing contingent workforce over the past 20 years,” Chen says. “I think HR needs to pay equal attention to this contingent workforce in terms of helping these employees feel connected to the organization. We want them to prioritize your organization when the organization needs them.”

5. Technology in HR

Chen predicts that AI and machine learning and cloud-based HR systems will only grow in importance to the human resources field.

“How do we retrain the workers who were displaced by AI? That's a question that HR has to start planning for,” Chen says.

Cloud-based HR systems also raise security issues. HR should be partnering with their IT team to make sure the system has backup and is secure. A strong collaboration between the two departments is needed.

6. Personalized work

Think of the myriad personalized training and educational options available to you. Customized educational curriculum enables students to grow according to their specific needs and talents. Chen sees this playing out in the workplace as well.

“For example, even if you're hired as an engineer in an engineering company, there will be more personalized options to pick and choose your assignment and team to capitalize on your strengths and develop your areas for improvement,” Chen says.

7. Building a fun culture

A healthy workplace culture increases employee engagement and productivity and reduces turnover and employee stress. Chen believes the ability to have fun at work—a subset of having a positive work culture—is emerging as a major trend in HR.

“Having fun at work leads to employee happiness, a higher sense of well-being and better mental health,” Chen says.

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Employment and career advancement: Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment. Lynn University does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement.

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