Organizations moving from their “crystal ball” stage to an action stage are beginning 2024 with an advantage. Their planning is over – now they are accelerating their reality. This year will continue to offer complex and formidable challenges with different solutions for Mid-market and Fortune 100 companies. Well-known business publishers have discussed perspectives for 2024, and their thoughts are relatively similar. These insights are a great starting point for making decisions and moving forward.

Forbes recently published an article titled “The 10 Biggest Business Trends For 2024 Everyone Must be Ready for Now.” It predicted the global economic downturn would result in organizations continuing to be cautious. Still, it continued that several technological and societal trends were too significant to ignore or put off, regardless of the economic ambiguity. Certain things must move from the “what if” stage to the “we must” stage.

Here are the challenges Forbes pointed out:

  • Generative AI Everywhere
  • Soft Skills and the Human Touch
  • The Skills Solution
  • Sustainable Business
  • Personalization-at-Scale
  • The Data Economy
  • The Customer Experience Revolution
  • Remote and Distributed Work
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Resilience

Tenco’s Insight Series “Where is the World Going in 2024 and Beyond?” shows how interconnected these challenges are, with “78% of CEOs saying they are investing in AI, yet 1 in 4 CEOs not believing they have the right people in place to power their AI program.” The battle for talent will intensify in 2024.

As technology performs more tasks, the roles of humans will change to provide critical value in this evolving environment. People with abilities that machines cannot match – so-called “people skills” of empathy, emotional intelligence, communication ability, creativity, and leadership will be in the highest demand. The importance of using data while thinking in human terms will be one of the most sought-after criteria.

Only some people have these skills, and others may be interested in developing them. While all organizations will face the challenge of recruiting/retaining people with these skills, mid-market companies will have the greatest challenges, particularly those in areas that are not major metropolitan areas. They must overcome:

Smaller local talent pool

Organizations recruit candidates for most positions from the local area. As the complexities of jobs increase, the pool of qualified candidates shrinks. Adding soft and technical skills requirements significantly decreases the number of capable candidates, which affects jobs at all levels, with leadership roles being the most impacted.

Difficulty in relocating

According to a Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. survey, in the first quarter of 2023, 1.6% of job seekers relocated for new positions, down from 3.7% in 2022 to 4.2% in 2021. Lifestyle preferences are one of the reasons, with another being the financial considerations of relocating. When qualified candidates are outside the local talent pool, convincing them to move has become significantly more difficult.  Understanding the candidate and their priorities is integral to the recruiting process.

Retaining key employees

Employees who can effectively lead and make the changes most organizations need in 2024 are highly valued inside and outside their organization. A mid-2023 report by PwC noted that 26% of employees globally said they would likely change jobs in the next 12 months. Only 35% of the respondents represented Generation Z, indicating employees with more experience will also be leaving, taking with them knowledge and expertise that is important to the organization. Organizations must re-evaluate how they retain talent and develop meaningful programs for their employees.

Where do you stand?

Mid-market organizations often have less leverage to offer employees what Fortune 500 companies can offer, but forward-thinking organizations can overcome this with the right approach. The first step in moving forward is understanding what is most important to the individual you need to recruit or retain. Balancing what the organization needs with what people want creates a culture that attracts and retains talent.

Those who do not employ specialists who focus on the organization’s “people challenges” must look to external resources for assistance. The cost associated with hiring the appropriate consultant is far less than the penalty for changing too slowly. Experienced, knowledgeable consultants will assist organizations in identifying and solving their critical people challenges. The investment in a consultant is an investment in the organization’s future, with a high ROI.

Cornerstone International Group is a global network of independently owned talent firms that assist clients in identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining key leaders, offering local market knowledge combined with global reach.  Larry Shoemaker is the President, as well as the founder of Shoemakersearch/Cornerstone Atlanta.