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DECEMBER 2023

Navigating the HR Horizon: Key Trends for People Leaders in 2024

Ben Taylor

Introduction

As we launch into 2024, HR leaders must reflect on the People trends that characterized the past year to effectively shape future talent strategies. This blog explores HR trends that will have a significant impact in 2024, including the evolving roles of Chief People Officers and Chief Human Resources Officers, the impact of AI in HR, the need for interim leadership, the growth of the gig economy, and the growing need for strategic finance leaders and legal experts.

Delving into these trends will help equip HR leaders with knowledge and foresight to navigate the complex and ever-changing work environment of 2024 effectively.

Trend 1: Evolving Skill Sets for CPOs and CHROs

In 2023, the role of CPOs and CHROs continued to evolve dramatically in response to new challenges. Top HR leaders are now strategic partners, no longer confined to the operational back-office. These leaders serve as vital counsel on issues where human capital connects with organizational strategy.

  • Today’s CPOs provide insight that is critical in shaping company direction, and reflects their deep understanding of the workforce as a key driver of the business.
  • CPOs are at the forefront in identifying and cultivating the necessary skills and competencies within the workforce to help steer business transformation.
  • They must know how to harness the power of HR analytics, including adopting relevant tools and equipping the People team with the knowledge and training to develop evidence-based strategies that improve talent acquisition, development, and retention.
  • From total rewardsfunctions to enabling self-service portals for payroll and performance management, People leaders are enhancing digital accessibility and empowering employees to take charge of their professional journey.
  • They are pioneering initiatives that make wellness an integral part of the employee experience.
  • From an ethics perspective, CPOs must be increasingly vigilant as they deploy HR technologies.
  • As more organizations are adopting AI into their core processes, there is an urgent push for CPOs to be well-versed in AI and automation, so that HR and the organization integrate these technologies effectively.

For more insights see:

 

Trend 2: The Impact of AI on HR

Moving beyond the fear-based narrative surrounding AI in HR, there’s a growing recognition of its potential to address burnout and increase efficiency in organizations. In 2023, we saw significant AI integration across various business sectors, including HR. This trend, offering both challenges and opportunities, particularly in talent acquisition, is expected to continue in 2024.

According to Business News Daily, AI is reshaping HR in several key ways:

  1. Streamlining HR Functions: A majority of surveyed HR leaders said they are already utilizing AI across different HR functions such as employee records management, payroll processing, recruitment, performance management, and onboarding, with plans to increase AI usage in the future.
  2. Revolutionizing Recruitment: AI can substantially reduce the time spent on recruitment by automating tasks from job postings to job offers. It aids in sourcing talent, particularly in technical roles, by automating repetitive tasks and providing insights into employee performance and candidate outreach.
  3. Enhancing Onboarding Processes: AI-powered chatbots can make onboarding smoother and more personalized, assuring that new employees receive guided support. This technology also frees HR staff to focus on more complex tasks.
  4. Employee Monitoring and Analytics: AI now plays a role in monitoring employee productivity and engagement, providing HR teams with valuable insights. This includes detecting signs of burnout or misconduct and optimizing workflows.
  5. Improving Decision-making and Efficiency: As an example, AI can enhance hiring by streamlining screening and selection, analyzing resumes, and assisting recruiters in making better hiring decisions. It also aids in eliminating biases and guesswork in HR processes.
  6. Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Concerns: With the increasing use of AI to store business information, HR departments must ensure robust cybersecurity measures to protect personal employee data and maintain trust.

Despite its benefits, AI has limitations. For instance, tools may reject qualified candidates due to overly stringent job requirements or gaps in resumes. HR professionals need to complement AI with their own intuition and experience for the best decision-making.

The integration to date of AI into HR is a testament to its potential to revolutionize the field. However, HR leaders must approach this technology with a strategic mindset, recognizing both its capabilities and limitations, in order to fully harness its benefits in 2024.

 

Trend 3: Interim Leadership: A Flexible Approach in HR

Leadership recruitment in 2023 saw an increased use of interim executives. This approach addresses immediate challenges and organizational transformations in a rapidly evolving business landscape marked by high turnover, leadership scarcity, and a need for adaptive strategies. Interim executives provide stability and direction during transitional periods, offering fresh insights and specialized skills. Their temporary role is a strategic solution for businesses navigating economic uncertainty, operational continuity, and the complexities of a global market.

For more insights see:

 

Trend 4: Gig Economy’s Influence on HR Executive Roles

The gig economy’s growth in 2023 helped re-shape the function and demand for HR executives, requiring HR leaders to adapt to more flexible hiring practices and consider bringing on Interim and Fractional leaders. According to the World Bank, “The ‘gig economy’ accounts for up to 12 percent of the global labor market—much higher than previously estimated.”

2023 saw a significant shift in executive hiring strategies, with organizations increasingly adopting the practice of engaging interim and fractional leaders. This approach reflects a strategic evolution, integrating flexible, specialized leadership to navigate transitional phases and specific projects within companies. It represents a modern response to dynamic business needs, offering expertise and adaptability without long-term commitment.

  • Fractional employment refers to hiring individuals for specific parts of their time on a contract basis, as opposed to full-time. This allows businesses to flexibly engage workers for certain tasks or projects without long-term employment commitments.
  • Interim executives and leaders, a subset of fractional employment, are temporary executives brought in during transitional periods. They provide expertise and guidance to navigate changes, like organizational restructuring or filling leadership gaps, without the long-term obligations of a full hire.

Leaders can benefit from this booming gig economy by exploring a strategic integration of gig workers in their talent acquisition efforts.

 

Trend 5: Responding to Socioeconomic Changes and Strategic Integration of Finance Expertise

In 2023, with economic challenges like rising inflation, soaring interest rates, and increased uncertainties, organizations faced significant hurdles in achieving sustainable growth. In this context, the role of finance executives, particularly Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), became more critical than ever. Their strategic input was essential in navigating challenging times and steering companies toward stability and resilience.

The CFO’s role is important in this environment as a key strategic player who can help the company drive growth and adapt to market changes. The necessity for CFOs and legal experts in guiding organizational decision-making to guide complex economic issues cannot be overstated.

Notably, the 2023 Independent Talent Report by the Business Talent Group revealed a marked increase in demand for interim executives in finance roles like interim CFOs. This trend underscores the growing recognition of the CFO’s importance in the corporate ecosystem. Given ongoing economic uncertainties, this trend is likely to continue into 2024. Leaders who may be reluctant to hire a CFO should consider opting for an interim CFO, to ensure strategic financial guidance and adaptability in these unpredictable times.

For more insights see:

 

Trend 6: Emphasizing Total Rewards in Talent Strategy

In 2023, companies enhanced their benefits and wellness programs to attract and retain talent by developing comprehensive Total Rewards (TR) strategies. These strategies support recruitment, retention, and engagement while maintaining competitive advantage amidst challenges like inflation and talent shortages.

Total Rewards include cash compensation, benefits, employee recognition, advancement opportunities, and employee care programs; this comprehensive range of benefits addresses the current trend of high turnover and a war for talent. The role of Total Rewards leaders is becoming increasingly critical in designing these strategies to meet the evolving needs of the workforce and organizational objectives.

For more insights see:

 

Trend 7: Among Open Roles for HR Leadership in 2023, Heads of HR Roles Dominated — DEI and TA Roles Were Also Strong

For People leaders, understanding this past year’s hiring trends across sectors is pivotal for your strategic planning for 2024.

This insight allows you to precisely tailor your HR hiring strategies to the unique demands of your industry. By foreseeing skill requirements and adapting to emerging workforce trends, you can also ensure effective talent management, crucial for maintaining a competitive edge. This forward-thinking approach is key to developing a resilient, skilled workforce, enabling your organization to thrive in a dynamic business environment.

Hiring Trends: Top Industries Hiring HR Leaders

Frederickson Partners collects data on open HR leadership roles within various industries to identify hiring trends and understand which roles are most in demand.

A data set collected between May the end of 2024 revealed that the Hospitals and Healthcare sector had the highest number of open roles. This was followed by Non-profit and Philanthropy, Education, Software Development, and Financial Services / Fintech sectors.

Growth by Roles

The most popular positions open in the hiring market included:

  • Vice President of Human Resources
  • CPO/CHRO
  • Director of Human Resources
  • Director Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Director of Talent Acquisition

Open Roles on LinkedIn for HR Leader Positions in the U.S.
(May – December 2023)*

2023 Pie Chart Showing Open Executive Roles on LinkedIn for HR

For an overview of the HR Open Roles data, view “Mini Webinar: Open Role Data.

*Note: Contact Frederickson Partners for our latest data.

For more insights see:

 

Conclusion

Reflecting on 2023, it’s clear that the HR domain is undergoing transformative changes. From the evolving roles of CPOs and CHROs, and the strategic incorporation of AI into HR functions, to the flexibility offered by interim leadership and the impact of the gig economy, among these 2024 HR trends, each one underscores the need for HR leaders to stay informed and adaptive.

As we move into 2024, it’s critical for HR leaders to leverage these insights for strategic planning and talent management, to help their organizations not only adapt but thrive in this dynamic landscape of the workplace and People management today.

Call to Action

We invite you to engage with our executive search firm for deeper insights and strategic support, helping you navigate these trends with confidence and foresight.

For strategic HR solutions and expert guidance through the evolving landscape of 2024, connect with Frederickson Partners. Our executive search firm specializes in finding top talent and offering personalized consulting services to meet your unique organizational needs. Contact us for a partnership that will empower your HR strategies and foster organizational growth. Contact Frederickson Partners today.

 Ben Taylor is VP of Business Development for Frederickson Partners and leads our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) practice

Ben Taylor is Partner and Vice President, Business Development at Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company. Ben held previous roles at Frederickson for eight years, first managing marketing and sales and more recently serving as Chief of Staff and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Lead, co-managing the DEI practice with the CEO. [View Ben's LinkedIn]

Read Ben Taylor’s Full Biography.

Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company is a market leader in retained executive search since 1995. As one of the top-rated HR executive search and C-suite recruiting firms, we have expertise in placing Chief People Officers, Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Diversity Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers and many other senior leaders. We draw on a broad network of rising and established executives and leaders, and a 28-year reputation as a talent acquisition and HR Advisory provider.

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