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Key HR trends for 2024 - from candidate experience and new technologies to flexible working models

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The year 2023 has seen significant changes in the field of human resource management driven by global challenges and technological innovations. This period marks an evolution in core practices and approaches in the sector, establishing new standards and expectations for both HR professionals and employers.

We invited Polina Gospodinova, Executive Director of BAPM, to talk more about the innovative trends in talent attraction, the impact of artificial intelligence in the HR industry, and the evolution of remote and hybrid working practices.

1. What was the most important thing in the HR world that we will remember the past year 2023?

Polina: At the beginning of 2023, I came across an article by Jeff Schwartz, author of the book Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work, in which he describes three areas that HR professionals should integrate into their work throughout the year. One relates to nostalgia for the pre-Kovid days and the desire to return things to that state. The second has to do with the anticipation of a year of "pause", of "rest" after the turbulence and intense changes in the way work has been done over the previous three years, and the third has to do with the need for a proactive approach that shapes the future of work.

It is safe to say that 2023 combines all of these. We have seen a period of stabilizing the new models of working that have been imposed and finding the optimum balance in implementing them - with what worked well before Kovid retained but adapted to the new reality and people's changed expectations.

I think many HR teams used the moment to explore, to test new practices in key processes, to see what would work well given the new, and well-known, challenges we expect we will continue to face (like finding the staff we want), and to prepare to implement it.

We have also seen how AI technologies have "suddenly" become part of our present from being a trend of the future, and we all expect that in the coming years, they will fundamentally change jobs, the way we work, and the focus of our work, and impose new requirements on the skills we need to have to be successful professionally. So 2023 from my perspective of the HR world was a year of consolidation, of stabilization, of looking for new approaches, of exploration, and preparation.

2. What are the latest trends in talent attraction and recruitment?

Polina: The struggle for talent and the expectations of new generations entering the job market are pushing companies to become more innovative in the ways they build their recruitment processes and generally in the ways they attract the attention of potential new recruits for their teams.

If I could find one thing that sums up all the interesting practices that HR teams are implementing, it would probably be the candidate experience. A quick and easy application process, timely communication, honest feedback, and demonstrating respect for candidates' time and effort shouldn't even be commented on as the factors that distinguish good employers anymore. All these have become the bare minimum when talking about talent recruitment. And building on these begins.

Gamifying the different stages in the recruitment process, using virtual reality, implementing practices that ensure stereotypes are minimised and promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace, focusing on skills rather than qualifications - more and more companies are successfully implementing these in their recruitment process and employer branding strategy.

Perhaps what we don't see quite as many examples of yet is the use of AI technology in talent attraction and recruitment, but then again, this is part of the future and I'm sure more and more successful practices in this direction are yet to emerge. The other thing that I expect will start to gain more momentum is more focus on the untapped potential in the labour market. People aged 55+, people with a variety of disabilities who are nevertheless fully compatible with fulfilling professional commitments, digital nomads - they all represent a serious pool of talent that remains underutilized by employers and, especially with today's virtual and hybrid working arrangements, with opportunities to work from anywhere, holds huge potential.

3. What impact is technology innovation having on the HR industry?

Polina: There is hardly any area of business that will remain unaffected by AI technology in the very near future. The HR function is no exception. Realistically, every area of HR management will evolve under the influence of new technologies. I'm not a fan of apocalyptic predictions about how AI will take away jobs. Rather, I support the thesis that AI will transform occupations.

As for the HR profession, I think AI will naturally drive the process of positioning it as a true strategic partner to the business. A lot of the operational activities will be automated, but it will give HR professionals and managers the space to be much more focused on finding the solutions and building the policies that will bring real value to both people and the business, rather than operationalizing different processes.

4. How are teleworking practices and hybrid models evolving?

Polina: It's clear that hybrid models are what have emerged as the dominant way of structuring workflow. And I think every company has now found its optimal and objectively possible balance in implementing them. We've all seen the trend of a partial return to working from the office, which I think was completely natural and expected.

After the way remote working has taken hold - literally from today to tomorrow, of course, due to the objective necessity of it, it was clear that the lack of a smooth transition and adaptation period would lead to challenges. That's why programs related to supporting work-life balance, mental health and resilience, employee wellbeing, and experience are now so high on the agenda of HR teams. And hybrid working models, flexible working hours, and space are one of the tools here.

 

Polina Gospodinova

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