HR’s top priorities change every year, influenced by what’s happening globally. They consistently adapt their focus to deal with new challenges and opportunities, whether adjusting to new technology, addressing shifts in how we work, or responding to significant global events, positioning themselves at the forefront of these changes.
And since 2018, we’ve been asking HR professionals what makes them tick – and what keeps them up at night – to paint a picture of the things that are having the greatest impact on employee engagement in our annual State of Employee Engagement report.
Here’s a breakdown on what our research has uncovered:
Retention is the standout priority
The results from this year’s survey found that the standout priority across the board is retention, and since our 2022 report, it has leapt to the top of the list – having previously been the third most important priority.
This may be reflective of a worsening macroeconomic backdrop and amid a cost-of-living crisis, where employee wellbeing has also risen significantly to second place with recruitment, another well documented challenge, coming in third.
Performance and productivity has become more important
And 2023’s fastest riser is performance and productivity which has shot up six places in our ranking. It’s now on a par with staples of the HR function like culture and employee engagement and experience – perhaps as organisations continue to tighten their belts and try to get more out of their existing employees with leaner and fitter initiatives.
Learning and development has become less of a priority
Learning and development fell five places – the biggest drop versus last year – while reward and recognition and equality, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) were also both ranked as less important by our respondents. These findings suggest ‘softer’ priorities that are more difficult to link to an organisation’s bottom line are now being deprioritised.
Leadership capability is of strong importance
Leadership capability – a new option we offered for the first time this year – comes in strong in the top half of our ranking and is clearly a concern for HR professionals. And for good reason. Improving employee engagement is an uphill battle if your people don’t believe in your leadership, and if your leaders don’t exhibit the right behaviours.
What are HR’s top priorities looking to 2024?
When we look specifically at respondents working in deskless industries, retention and recruitment remain the top two priorities, while performance and productivity jumps up into third place. All three challenges were highlighted by a higher percentage of respondents than their desk-based counterparts – suggesting that, while the issues faced are similar, they’re even more pressing for organisations with large, deskless workforces.
This article contains a snippet from The State of Employee Engagement 2023/24. This report draws on insights from over 450 senior HR practitioners to understand their key priorities and challenges going into 2024, including key insights on employee listening, employee engagement, retention, recruitment, and productivity & performance.