6 Workplace Culture Trends for 2024 Every Company Should Watch

Jul 3, 2024

For companies trying to build great workplace cultures, 2024 promises a complex challenge.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is upending the workplace, and employees are clamoring for training and tools to stay ahead of a rapidly changing business environment. Politics and a U.S. presidential election threaten to divide us at the exact moment when companies need to come together to solve big problems. Environmental concerns are rising, and the efforts to remake the industries of the world will impact every company.

And the social issues that took center stage after the murder of George Floyd are still with us. Chief diversity officers and diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging (DEI&B) leaders have seen their roles change and diminish in the face of recession fears. Mental health issues haven’t disappeared along with the daily pandemic headlines.

With each of these challenges, business leaders have an unmatched opportunity. New data from Boston Consulting Group1 shows more than a quarter of employees globally are ready to leave their current jobs.

The best way to keep your talent? Become a great workplace, where every employee has a consistently positive experience.

It’s the company, not the industry, that determines how employees feel at work. It’s not the size of your company, either. The key ingredient is employee trust, where leaders build deep relationships with employees in all job types and role levels, where workers are proud of the work they do, and feel a sense of belonging to the people they work with.

Here’s what that will require in 2024:

  1. Make trust the most important asset for your business

Trust has never been more valuable, and the year ahead will only make trust harder to earn. The rise of artificial intelligence, a raucous presidential election cycle, and ongoing transformation of digital information systems will force consumers to ask more questions.

“We’re entering an era where trust will mean 10 times what it meant in 2023,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work. Companies will have to prove they are doing things to make the planet better, that they are adopting and launching new technology in a responsible and ethical manner, and that they can be trusted to wield their growing influence transparently and ethically.

Not only will trust matter in the current moment, but people will question if they can trust companies for the coming decade as new technology drives a radical transformation of life. “It’s going to be a commitment,” Bush says.

To understand what companies they trust, Bush believes consumers will look to the employees of the company. “You can trust a company in terms of how they’re using artificial intelligence when you know their employees trust them,” he says.

  1. Find more ways to support and improve mental health for every employee

According to a 2023 market survey of more than 4,400 U.S employees by Great Place To Work, mental health hasn’t improved for employees at typical U.S. workplaces.

However, Great Place To Work Certified™ workplaces outperform this benchmark, with 83% of employees reporting psychological and emotionally health work environments. Only 55% of employees said the same at typical U.S. workplaces.

The biggest differences between great workplaces and the U.S. average? Fairness.

Employees at great workplaces were more likely to report receiving a fair share of company profits, a fair shot at a promotion, and fair treatment from their manager. Companies that want to improve mental health for all employees will have to investigate the structural causes of burnout and fatigue across the organization and turn employee feedback into clearly communicated action.

  1. Make space for a tumultuous presidential election cycle

A 2022 report from the Society of Human Resources Managers found that 45% of U.S. workers report personally experiencing political disagreements in the workplace2. Only 8% of organizations have communicated guidelines to employees about political discussions at work, according to the study.

What’s the cost of declining civility in the workplace? Lost productivity.

Great workplaces will have to make space for the world events that impact their people, and create programming in partnership with their people to address acute needs. Tony Bond, chief diversity and innovation officer at Great Place To Work, makes a strong case for robust employee listening programs.

“You have to survey employees, but you also have to find a systematic, measurable way to surface the voice of the people—to continuously take their pulse,” he says. “The last thing you want to do is create a large program when people aren’t in a place to participate.”

  1. Increase your focus on retention, upskilling, and talent development

As finding talent with the right skills becomes more difficult, employers will have to invest more developing the talent they need internally. Even when companies are reducing headcount, they need skilled workers to continue operating the business.

A focus on recruitment shifts to a focus on developing and reskilling the workers you already have.

While the macroeconomic picture in the U.S. appears to be avoiding the recession that was prophesized in early 2023, business leaders will remain cautious. Yet, a skills gap remains a top concern, with 26% of CEOs ranking a talent shortage as the top “damaging factor” to their business outlook, per Gartner3.

This might be the year to launch your internal talent marketplace, or revolutionize your learning and development tools with AI and new technology.

  1. Make sure all DEI&B programs are aligned with business goals

Despite some prominent business leaders rallying against diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging initiatives, data shows that those voices are outliers.

According to The Conference Board, three-quarters (75.8%) of S&P 500 companies incorporate ESG performance into CEO compensation4. Nine in 10 of the S&P 500 use at least one metric related to human capital management to calculate executive compensation.

How does this data square with the decline of DEI leadership roles at companies across the U.S.? In short, DEI&B programs that aren’t connected to clear business outcomes and revenue are disappearing.

As companies approach the five-year mark for the commitments made after the murder of George Floyd, what will have permanence will be programs that contribute to company performance.

  1. Double down on developing the best leaders in the world for your company

Workplace culture starts with leadership, and the best workplaces are committing large resources to developing their people to lead with empathy and courage.

As the business landscape has changed, what it means to be a leader has also changed. Employees expectations of their leader have shifted: Inspiring visionaries are giving way to coaches and mentors who can both lead the way and empower their people to lead in their own right.

Ted Kitterman is a content manager at Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture. Powered by its proprietary platform and methodology, Great Place To Work offers unparalleled data and benchmarking, the most respected workplace certification and lists, and industry-leading research and insights, all supported by a wealth of resources and a thriving community. To learn more, follow Great Place To Work on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram or visit greatplacetowork.com and subscribe to their culture newsletter.

 

  1. Boston Consulting Group. 2023. “More Than a Quarter of Employees Globally Are Ready to Move on From Their Current Jobs.” Boston Consulting Group website, https://www.bcg.com/press/18december2023-employees-move-on-from-current-jobs.
  2. 2022. “SHRM Study Reveals 20% of Workers Mistreated Due to Political Views.” SHRM website, https://www.shrm.org/about/press-room/shrm-study-reveals-20-workers-mistreated-due-to-political-views.
  3. “Gartner’s Top Technology Trends for 2024.” Gartner website, https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/trends/top-tech-trends-gb-pd.
  4. The Conference Board. 2023. “Maximizing the Benefits of ESG Performance Metrics in Executive Incentive Plans.” The Conference Board website, https://www.conference-board.org/publications/ESG-performance-metrics-in-executive-compensation-plans.
Written by: Ted Kitterman

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