The UK has experienced its fair share of challenges over the past twelve months, from the cost-of-living crisis to record-high inflation. However, in the face of economic uncertainty, businesses have been challenged to adapt and find innovative ways to weather the storm.

After a year defined by uncertainty, misinformation and distrust, employers must be decisive when it comes to managing their workforce in 2024 – ensuring their people management strategies support the constantly evolving needs of both the business and its employees.

So, let’s delve into the specific workforce management approaches that will be essential for talent recruitment and retention in 2024 and beyond.

Monitor middle management well-being.

Next year, employers should place extra focus on tackling manager burnout – with more than half of managers currently feeling burned out at work, according to Microsoft’s most recent Work Trend Index. This is unsurprising when you consider that middle management has navigated staff through a pandemic and its aftermath.

It’s no secret that a stressed management level rubs off on more junior team members, who then feel pressured to work equally as hard or for just as long. Looking ahead to 2024, HR leaders should review their tech portfolio to ensure their tech solutions adequately support mental health by monitoring employee wellbeing in real-time.

Encourage person-to-person connections.

The focus on returning to the office has led to a widening of the ‘us and them’ culture between management and staff within many companies. In 2024, employers should focus less on where staff work and more on what they are doing as a company to improve the tools provided to increase productivity and engagement amongst colleagues.

Instead of mandating more days in the office, at WorkForce Software our objective is to increase more person-to-person connections. We’re encouraging staff to get off email and connect with their colleagues for more 1:1 conversation, in-person meet-ups, and volunteering opportunities to create more connection to each other and a shared purpose. Decisive action and putting trust in employees will have a far greater impact on productivity than office mandates.

Focus on baby boomer succession planning.

At the moment, more baby boomers are leaving the workplace. With more than 75 million baby boomers retiring in the near(ish) future, employers should prepare a workforce plan to replace these leaving workers. HR leaders need to assess whether they have the right people to step up and fill roles. Are they able to support future leaders to be human-centric and empathetic leaders? If not, there is a lot of development to be done in early 2024 for effective succession planning.

Ways to spot these future leaders include a great attitude, willingness to learn and a desire to be part of the company’s culture. Oftentimes this is more important than having a degree or specific technical skills. There is, of course, still value in degree. However, companies also need to recognise that there are other core values and skills that an individual can bring to the table. For example, we’re educating managers on balancing specific skills with a focus on personal traits like those who embrace change, pivot to whatever is needed, and show a willingness to try new things.

Foster transparency from start to finish.

In 2024, the skills shortage will continue to impact many organisations’ bottom line and ability to grow. While it’s tempting to fill vacant roles at whatever cost, emphasis must remain on hiring the right talent for the right job. Ultimately, you’re only doing yourself and the employee a disservice by not adequately describing a role to fill vacancies. This leads to unhappy employees and the same hiring issues when they quickly leave.

Next year, HR teams must remember to balance speed and relevance in hiring to reduce team turnover and disruption. Employers must be clear about what the company culture is throughout every step of the hiring process, which will help to foster a sense of transparency, honesty, and trust during the initial employment stages.

Looking ahead to 2024, HR leaders must ensure workforce management strategies prioritise employee well-being, particularly at middle management level, while remaining consistent on flexible working practices, fostering a culture of transparency, and embracing new recruitment and succession planning practices. Only with a more agile people management approach will companies be able to capitalise on the opportunities and overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

Leslie Tarnacki, WorkForce Software
Chief Human Resource Officer at WorkForce Software | + posts

Leslie Tarnacki is the Chief Human Resource Officer at WorkForce Software. She has 25+ years of HR leadership and business operations experience in both large and SME organizations. Her passion is driving all HR strategy around employee relations, labor law, policy development, compensation strategy, performance management, succession planning, recruiting & onboarding, and training & development.