Staff retention | This is the biggest challenge HR professionals foresee in 2024

This is the biggest challenge HR professionals foresee in 2024

Recruiting and retaining employees has overtaken the cost-of-living crisis as the industry’s biggest obstacle for the coming year, according to new research.

A study by employment law and HR consultancy firm, esphr by WorkNest, found that retaining staff is HR professionals’ most significant challenge for 2024.

Just over one third (36%) highlighted employee retention as their key challenge for the New Year and this was closely followed by recruiting staff members (30%).

Just over one quarter (27%) said that the cost-of-living crisis would be their main obstacle in 2024 which was a significant reduction compared to the same research undertaken last year for 2023, when 70% of HR professionals said the cost-of-living would be their biggest challenge.

Closely connected to these concerns is worries around employee engagement, with one quarter (26%) citing this as their biggest challenge.

Legislation changes (7%) and Government changes (9%) meanwhile were of lesser concern for the industry, despite 2024 being a key election year for the country and the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 triggering a number of key employment law changes that will impact the workplace.

Mental health and wellbeing has remained as the topic that HR professionals think is the most important area to support employees in for 2024, with 46% saying it tops their list of priorities closely followed by hybrid and flexible working (42%). As many businesses demand a return to the office, some even a full time return, supporting staff with flexible working is ranked slightly higher than supporting team members with diversity, equality and inclusion (37%).

When asked specifically about the impact a general election could have on the workplace, 60% said they were concerned about the impact a change in Government could have on employment laws and pending bills.

The areas that HR predict could see most change if a new Government was to be elected in order of most affected are:

  • Equality and discrimination legislation (34%)

  • Flexible working (33%)

  • EU Laws (30%)

  • Industrial relations laws (28%)

  • Family Friendly Rights (23%)

  • Employment tribunal access and process (14%)

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Charlotte Ashton, Associate Solicitor and Head of Immigration at esphr, said: “We have seen a shift in what most concerns HR managers with not one, but two, key areas overtaking the rising cost of living which shows how much can change in just one year.

“As we start to see economic signs of recovery continuing following some very turbulent pandemic years, the job market continues to grow which gives people more opportunity to explore job options more freely. Therefore, if your organisation isn’t providing a good environment, salary, benefits and culture, retention could be a significant issue.”

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