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If you have a negative outlook for HR in 2024, you can fix it now

How can HR shift from negativity to positivity in 2024? Uncover the simple shifts that can propel your team from the shadows of doubt into the light of optimism and success.

Suzanne Lucas
Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne, the Evil HR Lady, shares expertise, guidance, and insights based on 10+ years of experience in corporate human resources....

negative outcome for hr in 2024

Survey: Despite Improved Hiring Outlook, HR Leaders’ Expectations Worsen.” This is the headline the Conference Board chose to use to detail the results of their survey of CHROs. In the spirit of “if it bleeds, it leads,” they went with the most negative aspect of the survey.

And I get it–it’s all about the hits and no one likes to read “Everything is great!” We simply don’t click as often, but we should.

If you have a negative outlook toward HR for 2024, you can fix it. Here’s how.

1. Look at the actual numbers

The survey found that the CHRO confidence index fell from 55 percent in Q3 to 53 percent in Q4. Remember, anything above 50 means more people are positive than negative. Are you going to get your knickers twisted over a two percent difference? The majority of CHROs are confident about things going into 2024. That’s a cause for celebration.

And take a look at these stats:

  • 44% of CHROs expect to increase their hiring over the next six months—up from 38% in Q3.
  • 19% expect to decrease their hiring over the next six months—down from 26% in Q3.

Hiring is up! That is positive for businesses. 2023 saw a lot of layoffs, especially in the tech sector, so looking at increased hiring is a good thing–for candidates as well. And as hiring increases, more people are looking for new jobs. When things are bad, people hunker down in the position they have. When things look good, they are willing to try new things.

And let’s take a look at retention:

  • 22% of CHROs expect employee retention to decrease over the next six months, up from 18% in Q3.
  • Only 28% of CHROs expect their employee retention levels to improve over the next six months—down from 34% in Q3.
  • 51% of CHROs expect employee retention to hold steady—up slightly from 48% in Q3.

Let’s rewrite that for positivity’s sake:

  • 78% of CHROs expect employee retention to increase or remain steady over the next six months.

That’s a fantastic number. Yes, it’s less than Q3s, 82%, but it’s still a great number. Remember, a good hiring market means retaining good employees can be more difficult, so it makes sense that if hiring is up, retention will be down.

These aren’t scary or negative numbers.

2. Look for the positive

When you are looking toward 2024, you can focus on the negative things in your business, or you can focus on the positive things. This does not mean ignoring the problems–that makes everything become negative rather quickly. But look toward the positive.

Doing an employee engagement survey can help you know what is working and what employees feel is lacking. But remember, don’t do a survey if you’re not going to address issues! Nothing is worse for employee morale than asking them how things are going and ignoring it.

When you get the results from your survey, look for the things that are going well and talk them up while patting yourself on the back. There are probably a lot of good things.

3. Fix the negativity

It would be fabulous if HR had all the power and budget needed to solve employee engagement problems, but alas, you are undoubtedly limited. But if your employees tell you of a problem, you need to acknowledge it at least. Here are some things to think about.

Complaint: Pay is too low 

Response: Assuming you literally cannot adjust pay and that your pay is at market rates, at least acknowledge employee concerns. But don’t do so and then hand out big bonuses to the executives. It’s tone-deaf.

Complaint: Managers are terrible

Response: You probably can’t fire managers, but you can do things to address manager behavior. What is wrong with the managers’ behavior? Have you trained your managers in providing feedback and managing by results? If you haven’t done these things, start doing them. 

Complaint: Lack of transparency

Response: Fixing this is free. The battle will be with the C-suite to convince them that letting employees know what is happening is good. People want to know and will perform better if they understand what is going on.

Complaint: No work-life balance

Response: Again, this is a C-suite issue more than a cost issue. Dig into the issue and find out what employees see as the problem. Do they want remote work? Flexible start and end times? More breaks? Some of this may be possible, and some may not–you certainly can’t have your certified nursing assistants working from home–but you can allow your accountants a bit more flexibility. Look for a solution and ask your employees for suggestions. They may have ideas that you would never think of.

4. Stay optimistic

While it’s easier to complain, look for the positive in your organization and celebrate it. This is not the toxic positivity of demanding fake happiness. This is looking for the good and pointing it out. You get more of what you look for, so you’ll see more and more good as you do this.

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