Is 2024 the most exciting year yet to be a resource manager? Let's explore the trends that will define this dynamic sector this year.
As we move into 2024, we might allow ourselves a little cautious optimism.
It has been a challenging few years for the global economy. But as businesses have been wrestling with the challenges of doing more with less, and adapting to ever changing conditions, the value of resource management has really stood out.
The truth is that now is a very exciting time to be a resource management professional. Many of the problems that businesses face today can be mitigated by giving resource managers a seat at the table, and organizations are increasingly recognizing this.
So, with that said, let’s walk through the five major trends that will define the sector this year, including areas where we can expect to see more growth, ambition, and investment.
More and more resource management practitioners are starting to realize that the true value proposition for their work isn’t merely in scheduling staff efficiently.
As resource management matures as a practice, it’s becoming increasingly evident that it can be used to achieve substantial, long-term business goals - particularly through future-proofing and developing a company’s workforce to increase the wealth of skill and expertise within the organization.
These are aspirational goals though, and they require a mindset-shift from tactical to strategic resource management. In 2024, we’re likely to see more organizations evolving their resource management in order to achieve this.
According to the Resource Management Institute, tactical resource management focuses primarily on staffing activities, perhaps even getting stuck in the weeds and bogged down by administrative tasks.
On the other hand, the strategically focused resource managers recognize the following:
good resource management is finding a balance of serving the economic needs of the business while meeting the priorities of our most important assets”.
Moving to this strategic focus won’t happen overnight: resource managers first need to be confident forecasting future capacity. However, if they are able to forecast accurately and make decisions based on their predictions, they will be able to respond strategically to questions such as:
Learn more: the Beginner's Guide to Capacity Planning
Developing these capabilities will be a crucial step in the transition towards resource management that helps organizations build workforces fit for the future.
Proponents of AI and Machine Learning talk a big game, but they have (so far) only a modest presence in the realm of resource management. However, as the tech develops, so do the possibilities.
The main value proposition for AI and ML in resource management is as a means to save time on the busy work that detracts from the more strategic and creative activities. Intelligent automation will be able to handle routine tasks and admin, and free up this time to interact more on a person-to-person level with the people being managed.
For example, Natural Language Processing (NLP) can make the onerous task of dealing with mounds of unstructured text data far less time consuming and intimidating. Rather than sending out staff surveys every quarter, and having to comb laboriously through every response, you could send a survey every week and leverage NLP capabilities to run sentiment analysis or topic modelling on the responses.
This would quickly and concisely give you a picture of how your people are feeling, whether there are any topics at the forefront of their minds, and if there are any concerning trends that you need to address. You can then invest the time saved into projects that actually address these concerns.
Even further down the line, AI-driven analytics may be able to provide data-driven suggestions for resource optimization, helping organizations make informed decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of their operational landscape.
In short, AI and ML will increasingly have a part to play in resource management. And we'll only see more and more of them in 2024.
We’re so used to hearing the phrase “unprecedented times” that it’s almost a joke at this point.
First, the pandemic upended the way people worked and turned remote work into the norm. Then companies totally diverged in their approaches - with some demanding full 5-days-a-week return to the office, some selling their offices and letting their employees embrace remote permanently, and every other hybrid arrangement in between. It’s hardly been a steady time for most knowledge workers.
Owing to repeated global financial shocks, many companies have also been through several rounds of restructuring and layoffs at this point. And going into 2024, some companies are still feeling the financial heat and making decisions to let people go.
Employees have weathered storm after storm without any break in between. Even the most resilient and stoical team members likely feel a degree of exhaustion and burnout from the constant up and down.
This is why Gartner has identified not just change management, but managing change fatigue, as a specific priority for 2024. 77% of HR leaders are saying that employees are feeling fatigued with constant change, leading to eroded trust, reduced willingness to cooperate with change, and diminished desire to stick with a company through change. People are less productive, more demoralized, and more likely to leave their jobs.
Resource managers have an integral part to play in managing this change fatigue. They can be proactive communicators, making sure that the resources they manage are never blind-sided by changes. If roles are being restructured, they can work with HR partners and try to ensure that employee preferences and development goals are kept in consideration. If the organization is going through a chaotic period, they can do what they can to keep workloads balanced and sustainable.
Above all, they can be an advocate for employees, working to ensure that the team doesn’t get hit by the blunt end of change too often.
Where many businesses are restructuring and even laying employees off, others still are trying their hardest to cling on to their MVPs. This is because, in 2024, the cost for replacing key staff members just keeps creeping up and up.
In 2023, the cost to hire new staff rose to an average of nearly $5000 per role filled - and it’s likely that it will keep going up this year. And that’s only the costs directly related to hiring activities, such as the time cost associated with interviewing applicants.
Every time a person leaves, there is a hit on productivity as a new staff member is found to replace the outgoing person. This new recruit has to be trained and get up to speed. Most organizations run onboarding programs that last no more than three months, however, by some estimates, it takes up to eight months for a new employee to be fully onboarded and confident within their new role.
This is why the cost of staff turnover is so high. Gallup estimates that the total cost of replacing a member of staff ranges from between 50% to 200% of their annual salary, when opportunity costs and the cost of lost productivity are taken into account.
With that said, this is not a new phenomenon - turnover has always been expensive. But in 2024, it represents a cost sink where businesses really don’t have the capacity to waste money. With many businesses struggling in an economy that has been beleaguered by shocks in the past few years, they can ill afford to invest money in replacing people.
This year, then, we are likely to see growing interest in strategies to retain the best talent - which means leveling-up the employing experience and taking ambitious steps to encourage the best employees to stay put.
Resource managers will need to collaborate with HR leaders to ensure that their decisions align and create an environment where people enjoy meaningful career development opportunities, along with robust work-life balance.
Skills development is another important piece of the puzzle in retaining employees, and is likely to be a focus for 2024 - for this reason, and others. As job roles evolve and new job profiles develop owing to new technologies, reskilling becomes essential for resource managers to address skills gaps and ensure a well-rounded, versatile workforce that can make the most of new tools.
However, stats show that the workforce is not developing skills fast enough to keep pace with emerging needs. Recent figures from the UK government state that 10% of organizations have a vacancy that is open owing to a skill shortage that they need to fill, up from 6% in 2017. This is partly owing to underinvestment in training - which has gone down in real terms since 2017.
Indeed, companies are spending more money recruiting new employees than they invest in their existing employees.
This may be because managers are largely lacking in confidence about where to invest training budgets, uncertain about which skills will be the most useful for the future. However, this is once again where resource management comes to the fore.
With their fingers on the pulse of skills demands in their organization, resource managers are poised to make informed decisions about where investment in reskilling or upskilling makes the most sense for the business.
In 2024, we can expect conversations about the importance of upskilling and reskilling to continue, and for resource managers to be consulted as the organizational experts in skills management.
2024 is an exciting year to be a resource management professional, without a doubt. As more companies come to recognise the value of investing in resource management, the appetite for pursuing long-term, strategic organizational goals through resource management will increase.
This is great news for practitioners in the field - as the demands will be challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding. The scope for career development and advancement in this sector is only growing.
If you would like to learn more about developing your resource management practice, check out the wealth of information on our blog. Here are a few articles to start you off in the right direction:
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