Skip to Main Content
Filter By +
Topic +

Top 5 HR Trends and Priorities in 2024

11 Minutes to Read

Topics covered


    Now that 2024 has arrived, it's the perfect time to evaluate your organization’s priorities. But with so many new trends and areas of focus, it can be intimidating to know where to start. Don’t worry; we’ve gathered data from HR professionals across the country to discover what they care about most heading into the new year. Read about the trends and priorities that could impact your employees.

    As HR professionals, we have to look ahead. How can we hope to hit targets we don’t spend time evaluating? Every big project you’ve embraced — like an employee assistance program or an exciting new benefit — moved forward because you made it happen. And it’s time to set our sights on the HR trends and priorities of 2024.

    After all, our organizations succeed when we take a proactive step. No business can be effective when it just reacts without any form of planning. However, by transforming your approach for the new year and beyond, you’ll help your company thrive.

    Now is the perfect time to set the tone. Let’s get a head start on everything that might come your way.

    What’s the difference between an HR trend and a priority?

    Think about trends as speaking to the big picture, whereas priorities are more immediate and tend to be easier to measure. For example, trends could refer to rules or concepts — like predictive scheduling laws — that may not impact your business for years down the road. You should still consider trends, but they might not require action quite yet.

    Priorities, on the other hand, lend themselves to policies and procedures that you can follow up on. Plus, trends can eventually shift into priorities. Maybe an annual survey reveals job candidates expect a certain kind of communication, like texting. While it might not immediately impact recruitment, even a slight dip in applicants could be enough to justify it for your hiring managers. Just like that, a trend becomes a priority.

    Eventually, you have to act on trends. If you never shift them to priorities, you won’t have any results, either. Luckily, I’ll help you identify both for the coming year.

    HR trends for 2024

    To kick things off, let’s focus on what’s on the horizon. You won’t even need to look very far to learn that it’s an incredibly exciting time for HR. New technology could expand our roles and help us break down barriers between departments. Meanwhile, more employees want to enhance their skill sets and quality of life.

    Generative AI at work

    While a lot of buzz surrounds generative AI, we haven’t seen how it’s actually going to be used within business. While it could be used to simplify something like job descriptions, McKinsey & Company predicts generative AI could help deliver large-scale and in-depth training.

    At the same time, generative AI still has a lot of ground to cover in terms of reducing bias in hiring and advancement. That’s why it’s currently one of the higher-level trends. Keep an eye on how it’s used. It also wouldn’t hurt to think about how generative AI could enhance your role in the years to come.

    Skills and development

    This trend carries over from 2023, mostly because upskilling and reskilling tends to always be relevant. It’s just a matter of how.

    We should keep the skills of our current employees — and even the ones they lack — top of mind. This trend is more urgent and could easily slide into a priority if you uncover a substantial blind spot in your workforce’s capability.

    This doesn’t mean you should expect to replace people, but it could require you to reexamine the skills your employees acquire and how to pivot and expand them. As you adapt hiring to account for missing skills, look into some overlooked talent pools the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identifies, such as:

    • older workers
    • individuals with disabilities
    • global talent (first-generation Americans)
    • veterans

    Evolving workplace demographics

    As people change, so does the makeup of your workplace. What engaged employees in the last decade — or even just a few years ago — won’t necessarily cut it for them today. Your people want to bring their authentic selves to work. By understanding your workforce’s makeup, you can transform HR from tolerant to truly supportive.

    The changing nature of compensation

    2024 will bring a renewed focus on compensation and strategies around it. What determines the ideal pay and benefits can often relate to your:

    • location
    • industry
    • required candidate qualifications

    But that doesn’t mean your policy should ever be static. As your team expands its hiring practices and potential talent pools, pay attention to your surroundings.

    For a broader look, consider reviewing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ national wage data. It provides average salaries based on state, metropolitan area and even occupations themselves.

    Total workforce management

    This trend speaks to how HR should have to own the “people practices,” or the strategies and processes that determine how we attract, retain and engage employees. In essence, maintaining and boosting the quality of our workplaces falls on everyone in the organization.

    Excelling at total workforce management means breaking down the silos between teams and aligning your people with a shared goal. Expanding leadership training covers one piece, but you should also examine the tools employees use. After all, it’s hard to inspire your workforce in one direction when the software they use frustrates and disengages them.

    The top 5 HR priorities for 2024

    We’ve seen some of what lies ahead. Now let’s dive into HR’s specific areas of focus. To help, Paycom commissioned a survey from Pollfish in September 2023 of 1,000 U.S. HR pros. Here’s where their priorities landed.

    1. Employee retention

    A staggering 57% of HR pros listed employee retention as one of their top priorities. It comes as no surprise, either, given this issue was also the most popular in last year’s survey.

    Keeping people and protecting their well-being are unquestionably vital to the long-term health of your company. It also helps reduce the overall cost of recruitment, which continues to climb. SHRM estimates the average cost of a new hire is $4,700. On top of this, Gallup reports replacing an employee and getting a new hire up to speed ranges from one-half to two times the former worker’s annual salary.

    Frankly, I’d be shocked if employee retention wasn’t the top priority, given how much depends on it. All of the others we’ll cover ultimately feed into this goal. You won’t find a single business that doesn’t benefit from keeping a healthy workforce.

    But it’s not always clear how to turn off turnover. Fortunately, a possible solution is probably closer than you think. Start by asking employees what makes it good to work at your company. A tool to anonymously gather feedback is great for this, and conducting stay interviews can help you dial into specific motivations. The comments you gather also help you identify what could make your employees’ experience better — before they look elsewhere.

    Retention can’t belong exclusively to HR, either. Poor management was overwhelmingly the top reason employees quit, according to a separate Pollfish survey commissioned by Paycom in October 2022 of 1,000 U.S. workers. Managers need to be vulnerable and accept where they stumble. This will help you find a way to keep your best employees, even if it means moving them to a different role.

    Finally, be honest with your people about how you’re working to improve retention. Constantly including employees in the process will help them feel heard and might even lead you to a few unexpected ideas. Remember, you should invest in what employees — not leadership — think is important.

    2. Talent acquisition

    Not far behind retention, 50% of HR pros told Pollfish talent acquisition was among their top priorities in 2024. This result also reflects the last iteration of the survey. Essentially, talent acquisition encompasses a spectrum of HR responsibilities, including:

    This priority ranks as high as it does because it’s the first impression a person has of a business. But it goes even further than that — even after a candidate accepts an offer.

    In my experience, onboarding tends to be the biggest struggle companies face in talent acquisition. Recruiting and HR tend to create distinctions between each other, but they must tear down the wall to form a connection. They need to focus on the specific processes and spot the hand-off points. Maybe you’ll find an issue with the HR platform or discover that hiring managers aren’t following up with applicants fast enough.

    Regardless, once you identify where your talent acquisition strategy falls short, you can start to correct it. And it will need to be adjusted. Even once reliable hiring processes have an expiration date. One of the most common mistakes I see organizations make involves keeping hiring practices stagnant. Your business’s success depends on adapting.

    Lean on easy-to-use HR tech to streamline talent acquisition. If you work with a vendor for recruitment, ask them to share their expertise and be candid about where your strategy needs a boost.

    3. Training

    Close behind talent acquisition is employee training. According to Pollfish, just over 49% of HR pros cited it in their top priorities. This isn’t a new priority for HR, but training didn’t rank in last year’s top five. Its growing emphasis could directly relate with the skills trend we covered earlier.

    While close to career development, employee training speaks more to professional development or upskilling and reskilling programs. It can be a way to ignite advancement, but it also helps your people enhance the traits they need to become more comfortable in their roles.

    When I started my HR career in the ’90s, we knew we had huge opportunities to grow in employee training. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the tech to do it. That’s not the case today. Now, learning management software provides a framework to engage employees with training. Plus, they can fill their skill gaps in a way that truly speaks to them.

    As you continue to research and expand training, assess the talent your workforce already has. This won’t just help fill existing job openings, but also inform the positions your organization will eventually need — and the skills tied to them.

    4. Employee engagement

    After training, Pollfish found 49% of HR pros prioritize employee engagement. Training’s rise pushed engagement just below its previously held third spot. Even so, it still holds a prominent spot in the top five.

    I’ve discussed this topic for the last 25 years. While we’re always working on it, I still feel as though we haven’t quite figured it out. Part of this is because low engagement doesn’t have a solution you can just buy; raising it is an outcome.

    Listen to what your employees want and genuinely act on it. Your attempts to boost engagement should never be a secret. After all, employees should be the first to know about the impact of your initiative.

    5. Career development

    Advancement and career development rounds out the top priorities for 46% of HR pros, according to Pollfish. Last year, it ranked one spot higher. Personally, it’s one of the areas I cherish the most.

    I loved spending my time in career development when I was an HR leader. While not necessarily more important, it does encapsulate more than just training. Career development relates to practices like:

    • mentoring
    • job shadowing
    • cross-department training
    • formal conversations about growth

    Make sure you give employees encouragement. And remind them that they have an opportunity to build a career in your organization. After all, focusing on their development strengthens the trust, connection and value employees find in your workplace.

    Sometimes it’s hard to motivate ourselves because we’re too caught up in our daily tasks. In other words, we get overwhelmed with the basics of jobs. However, when we prioritize career development in our organizations, we transform growth into a routine.

    If you can make career development a part of someone’s job, it gives them permission to pursue it. Plus, it tells them your company cares about their long-term success. For added inclusion, consider building a reverse mentoring program to empower employees to share their insight with their colleagues. I’ve found we tend to learn more when we’re empowered to teach.

    How does the right self-service HR software help organizations focus on value-adding initiatives?

    Across all workforce generations, people now have the power to complete HR tasks themselves. Doing so gives HR the space to focus on the big picture while improving the accuracy of employee data. Self-service tech also helps businesses attract members of Generation Z, who expect a high level of control with all the tools they use.

    Compensation, for instance, is one of the most important factors to your people. Beti®, Paycom’s tool that lets employees do their own payroll, automatically flags errors, then guides employees to fix them before submission — right in the Paycom app.

    Beti also gives your employees access to greater financial convenience through the Vault Visa® Payroll Card. With Vault, employees can have some* or all of their wages deposited on the secure Vault card. Combine it with Everyday™ to sharpen your competitive edge. This tech allows your people to get paid daily,** enhancing the control they have over their financial well-being.

    Your supervisors need support, too. Paycom’s Manager on-the-Go® simplifies time-off approvals, scheduling, personnel action forms and more right on their mobile device. Speaking of time-off requests, GONE® automates decisions around time off by allowing you to set policies, lightening leadership’s plate while providing employees with the quick responses they expect.

    As you grow and expand your team, Paycom’s talent acquisition tools streamline the entire process, from recruiting to hiring, background screening and onboarding. Once you’ve secured your talent, Paycom’s talent management software makes it easier to:

    • engage and retain employees
    • create clear career paths
    • help your people find purpose in your organization

    Ready to uncover more ways to enhance your employee experience next year and beyond? Join me on this webinar, 2024 Trends: 5 HR Priorities You Need to Know!

    *Employers must offer split direct deposit to multiple accounts in order to have just a portion of wages deposited to the Vault card.

    **Please see Terms of Use. Employees generally receive their net pay within 24 hours of working, but some employees may receive their pay sooner. Some limitations may apply based on employer’s pay cycle, employee’s pay amount, timing of approvals or certain employer configurations. Employees start receiving net pay after they have earned enough money to cover their required deductions, taxes and benefits each pay period.

    The Vault Visa® Payroll Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

    Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. (“Bank”). Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.