Wellbeing and the demands of gen Z: HR leaders’ priorities for 2024

As a new year kicks off, we speak to HR leaders about the main people trends businesses will have to navigate over the next 12 months and the strategies they’re lining up to overcome them

Chiefs Resolutions 2024 1

Expanding the wellbeing offer

Anna Capitanio 
Chief people officer, Domestic & General 

We have a young population in the UK and, sadly, in the post-Covid era mental health continues to be a tricky topic for HR to tackle. It links back to the idea of being able to be yourself in the workplace. So our wellbeing offering is expanding from just looking after physical wellbeing to encompass more aspects of staff’s mental and financial wellbeing. 

Financial wellbeing is often overlooked but it is a big part of this challenge, especially for the younger generation. 

Wellbeing is also linked strongly to workplace flexibility. We’re an outlier in the fact that we made the choice not to mandate certain days in the office, so colleagues are not required to be in the office at any point in time and this will continue. 

Meeting the demands of the next generation

Amanda Rajkumar 
Outgoing executive board member for HR, Adidas 

I’m not seeing enough HR professionals talking about generational theory and I think it must be part of how you train leaders. When we talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, we tend to focus on the key demographics such as race, ethnicity, sexuality or gender. We don’t talk enough about the differences between generations. 

This can create problems for organisations. Gen Z is so value-driven, and they can sniff out when companies aren’t living up to the values they espouse. We have faced these kinds of challenges ourselves, where more junior employees were pushing us as an organisation to take a stance on societal and political issues. HR needs to be prepared and develop a strategy to address some of those voices.

Another gen Z trend that fascinates me is that many say their most productive hours are between 6pm and 3am, according to a survey by Adobe. This means that by trying to fit these people into a normal corporate working day, you won’t be getting the best out of them. 

If people work better later in the evening, why are we asking them to be present in the office or online at 9am? This is something that HR must consider when we talk about the future of the workplace.

Thinking holistically about experience

Jennie Rogerson 
Global head of people, Canva 

You need to have synergy between your product experience and your employee experience. I think that’s integral and the interconnection between the two will grow enormously in 2024. Companies need to look at the whole brand; your employee brand and your customer brand are so interwoven that it’s important to keep those two things aligned.

For instance, one of our mantras is: “Do fewer things, well” and we want to take that into 2024. This will mean setting fewer goals, holding fewer meetings and hiring fewer people too, so we will have to be more intentional in our actions.

After all, having a frantic nature internally won’t help our colleagues to do better work. This means we must try to help employees by giving them permission to focus on fewer things but do them to a high standard, before moving on to whatever’s next. It’s about focusing on the tasks that can have the biggest impact on the business.

Capitalising on the advent of AI

Jesper Klitgaard 
Global chief people officer, Netcompany 

There are two main topics for us to address in 2024. One is diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve been working towards this goal for a while, but the next step is to take these good ideas and initiatives and implement them. 

This has involved getting closer to our employee resource groups. Taking action at the top of the organisation is important but, if you don’t engage and listen to your staff, it’s a bit pointless.

The other big topic for us is AI. It represents a huge business opportunity, especially for the HR function. As soon as we started looking into the applications internally, there was great interest and support from our colleagues. We’re trying to embrace it fully and that’s going to take up a lot of time.

HR’s role is becoming more complex. If we can use AI to take away some of the more basic tasks, that will then hopefully free people up for some of the more challenging issues. It’s still early days but I think it’s great that we’re exploring the opportunities.

But let’s not also forget about some of the key things an HR operation needs to do. We still need to have our recruitment running smoothly. And we need to provide the business with the talent it needs. The HR operation will be key for businesses in 2024 but, then again, it is always key.