Our crystal ball is broken at The Lee Group, but fortunately we have something better in looking ahead to the new year. We’ve been a top staffing and executive search firm for more than 50 years, partnering with clients on a local, regional and national level. With that experience comes wisdom and humility, too. Bear that in mind in reading what we project for 2024.

Guarded optimism

Those words come from Lee Group President Walt Graham. A year ago, most of us feared a recession was looming. It didn’t happen, yet high interest rates and inflation continue to make consumers wary of overspending. The upcoming presidential election will dominate the news cycle in the year ahead, and businesses will be weighing scenarios depending on the outcome. Graham predicts that hiring will be on the uptick with an even greater emphasis on putting the right people in the seats. Hiring mistakes are costly and affect the bottom line. Successful companies know that weathering uncertain times depends on efficiency and productivity. The need for staffing firms will be greater than ever as businesses won’t want to waste time going through a turnstile of candidates to find the best fit.

AI is sticking around

Did you think artificial intelligence was a fad?

“The genie is out of the bottle,” Graham says.

We’re on the cusp of acknowledging AI’s capabilities. Many companies spent the last year discovering AI for the first time and instructed many of their employees to start their own ChatGPT accounts. That discovery phase is over. The box is unpacked. The challenge moving forward is harnessing AI and making it a consistent part of workflow, key for businesses to either gain or preserve their competitive edge.

“Companies are now in the phase of evaluating AI and figuring out what role it plays in their business,” said Sarah Fulton, The Lee Group’s Vice President of Operations.

AI improves processes and minimizes busywork. Candidates can learn to better tailor their cover letters and resumes to job descriptions; companies can tailor those descriptions with greater precision; staffing firms can conduct smarter searches using the new technology.

Human touch and personal connections won’t go away. In fact, in an AI world, they are more important than ever. Authenticity matters to people because it’s so hard to find in the digital world. The Lee Group prides itself in embracing cutting edge technology to improve operations while never overlooking that people and face to face interaction aren’t replaceable.

While AI changes the way people work, it doesn’t replace the people who do the work.

About that Great Resignation

We saw a mass exodus from the workforce after the pandemic. That’s over, Fulton says. Statistics support that the number of people quitting jobs has dropped back to 2019 rates. In the last three years, candidates have become choosier about where they work while workplaces have invested in becoming more inclusive and adding perks that contribute to employee wellness. Layoffs have entered the picture, too, and last hired, first fired prevents people from jumping ship on a whim. Many employees will prioritize stability and stay put leading to an overall more competitive job market. 

Hybrid > Remote

Remote work isn’t going away. But many employers prefer a hybrid model with employees coming into the office one or two days a week. Flexibility is key. Mandating a return to the office on specific days for the sake of showing your face isn’t the route of choice. Employees embrace a hybrid model that makes sense and places an emphasis on team collaboration and engagement. Many employees actually welcome going into the office some rather than working from home 100% of the time. The hybrid workplace creates greater cohesion and maintains the work-life balance that appeals to today’s workforce. While productivity is important, so is shared experience and meaningful collaboration. Time within the office is actually more valuable because for many employees, it is no longer the norm.

Upskilling and Reskilling

Against the backdrop of an uncertain economy headed into 2024, staffing firms will play a more significant role in facilitating up-skilling and re-skilling initiatives to bridge the growing skills gap. The Lee Group, for example, partners with its clients and provides an analysis of what skills are lacking and then designs training programs to bridge the gap. The best staffing firms don’t just tell their clients change is coming. They prepare their clients to successfully navigate those changes and ensure their database is full of candidates with skillsets relevant to the times. Savvy employees also understand that learning new skills and understanding the shift in roles that will come with new technology make it vital to excel in their current positions with an eye toward what’s next.

Like every new year, 2024 will bring new opportunities, new challenges and new business relationships. The team at The Lee Group is prepared and optimistic. Connect with us and together, let’s make 2024 a successful year!

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