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The year of the ‘Great Renewal’: 2024 is HR’s chance to hit ‘refresh’

Ann Hollins, Vertex
Ann Hollins
As Chief People Officer, Ann Hollins drives Vertex's people and culture strategy to accelerate business growth and achievement. Ann also is a seasoned HR executive with over 25 years of leading global, enterprise-wide HR strategies enabling business and organizational transformations across a wide range of industries, including healthcare, technology, energy, consumer packaged goods, information sciences and manufacturing. Previously, she held chief people officer roles at Zelis Healthcare, Volt Information Sciences and Weight Watchers. Ann holds a BBA in Industrial Relations/Human Resources from The University of Iowa and an MBA from The Stern School of Business, New York University. She is Board Chair of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation and a member of the HR Policy Association. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four young children.

Workforce trends are often labeled for the social and economic circumstances under which they were created. From the “Great Resignation” during the immediate aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to last year’s “Great Reshuffle,” we have seen multitudes of twists and turns.

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Though 2024’s workforce trend has yet to be named, I would argue that what we are seeing among HR professionals is geared toward a period of “Great Renewal.” This year is an opportunity to renew our commitment to diversity and inclusion within and outside the workforce. It’s also a chance to enhance the employee experience, attracting, engaging and retaining top talent.

As executives and leaders, we have a responsibility to engage the employees and people who make our organization great and foster a culture that highlights our values.

An in-depth look at company culture

Over the last year, we have seen employees more focused on diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace. When employers reaffirm these values and their commitment, employees feel a sense of belonging. By fostering an accepting culture, workers believe they can grow and will want to contribute more.

In fact, according to the 2024 iCIMS Workforce Report, 44% of people would consider looking for a new job if their employer did not demonstrate a commitment to promoting DEI in the workplace. This not only reaffirms how much employees value diversity within the workspace but also how they value an ingrained culture that mirrors their own values and beliefs.

As team leaders, we must show dedication to our core values amid a changing work landscape. As stated above, this means a renewed commitment to diversity, learning and development. The company culture needs to be tied to driving employees’ sense of belonging.

This goes beyond just diversity workshops and presentations. It includes offering ample opportunities where people can grow and know that differences are celebrated and leveraged to achieve a greater impact. Within that, organizations must also offer options for different learning styles and needs.

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These components are likely to foster a strong, welcoming environment and community.

Committing to an enhanced employee experience

Employees are the lifeline and core of an organization, and it is critical that we work to ensure an intentional, proactive and streamlined employee experience in the workplace.

A human-centered design approach should be leveraged to enhance EX, including through wellbeing programs and benefits, learning and development opportunities, and flexible and remote work. An important aspect of developing your team’s EX is ensuring employees and their families feel and know that they matter, which is shown not only through recognition but also through the efforts and commitment the company provides.

A major point of discussion through the workforce trends of the last few years has been return-to-office mandates. We have seen research and data that RTO does not always improve performance, but can decrease employee satisfaction.

Companies have the option with remote and hybrid work to be flexible and creative. They can offer different modalities to not only honor employees’ needs but also to increase productivity and automate more tasks. These options—including emails, chats, messaging forums, town halls and more—can be used not only for day-to-day tasks but also for monetary and verbal shout-outs to spotlight those who are doing meaningful work.

Executive leaders have the power and opportunity to give back to our employees and create a safe, uplifting and inclusive place for them to work and grow. By renewing these commitments to diversity, development and flexibility, we are fostering a space that will, in the long run, retain and recruit our top talent—ultimately benefiting both our employees and the organization.