2024: Trends, Issues, and Challenges for HR / L&D

November 28, 2023 Vicki Stanford

What’s the outlook for recruiting and retention? Are budgets going up, staying the same—or being cut back? Is in-person classroom training making a comeback? How will artificial intelligence affect HR and L&D in the coming year? These are just some of the questions being answered by leadership, learning, and talent development professionals in Blanchard’s 5th Annual HR / L&D Trends Survey.

“More than 1,200 people from over 70 different countries responded to this year’s survey,” says David Witt, a senior researcher with Blanchard. “Their responses to quantitative questions along with more subjective open-text responses paint a broad picture of what leadership, learning, and talent development professionals will be focusing on in the coming year.”

In preparing for a webinar on December 13, Dr. Jay Campbell, Blanchard’s Chief Product Officer and head of research, notes a few key themes that are beginning to emerge in this year’s data.

  • Increasing pressure for companies to become a preferred employer
  • Renewed interest for in-person training
  • Impact and adoption of artificial intelligence
  • Building leadership bench strength

Becoming a preferred employer

“Hiring and retention continues to be top of mind,” says Campbell. “Attracting workers with needed skills and retaining high performers were both identified as top HR objectives, with 88% of respondents saying that hiring and retention will be more challenging in 2024 than in 2023.

“Survey respondents are expecting the war on talent to become incrementally more difficult next year. That makes sense based on the overall pattern we've seen the last couple of years, with power shifting more into the hands of employees and an increased emphasis on flexibility. It also aligns with the heightened focus on supportive leadership styles, including empathy and compassion.”

Renewed interest for in-person training

“Some 50% of respondents indicated that the demand for in-person classroom training is increasing,” adds Campbell. “We've been tracking this on an annual basis for the past several years. Before Covid, most organizational training happened in person, such as through face-to-face workshops. That flipped in a very accelerated way during the pandemic.

“What we are seeing now, likely related to the return to the workplace, is in-person training becoming the dominant modality for the first time in a while.”

Adoption of artificial intelligence

The researchers also asked specifically about the way artificial intelligence (AI) was being used by respondents, from both an HR and an L&D perspective.

“We explored the adoption and impact of AI in this year’s survey,” says Witt. “Some 31% of respondents say they are already using AI to some degree as a learning tool in their organizations. Of those that aren’t, 54% expect to start using it as a learning tool in the coming year.

“Approximately 86% of people expect AI to impact their HR / L&D work processes to some degree in 2024. And 27% say it will have a large or very large degree of impact.

“The top HR use for AI was career development—using AI to assist in analyzing an employee's skills and offering suggestions on what skills should be addressed,” Witt adds. “The top L&D use was personalized learning—using AI to evaluate each learner’s needs and suggest content and programs for them.”

“With this year’s survey,” says Campbell, “we wanted to gauge how important AI is in the HR / L&D community, both in terms of current use and planned use. We found some early adoption happening, with a lot of toes being dipped into the AI pool.

“L&D professionals are also looking at AI for the creation of educational content—exploring tools that, once fed with content, can help build courses, convert materials, and create videos.”

Building leadership bench strength

Another section of the survey looked specifically at the overall training environment and focus areas for the coming year.

“Developing leadership bench strength remains a top priority,” says Witt. “Overall training budgets are expected to increase by 8%. Learning and development budgets are expected to rise by 13%. And 57% indicate an increased focus on executive development during the upcoming year.”

“When we asked specifically about the most needed leadership competencies in 2024, we saw some movement among a few leadership capabilities we've been tracking over the years,” says Campbell.

“The top two most needed leadership capabilities remained stable. One is engaging and developing talent, which is in line with the heightened sensitivity toward creating a positive employee experience. The second most needed capability identified was leading and supporting change initiatives.

“We had some acceleration of the coaching people through challenges capability, which moved into the number three position this year. Communicating clearly jumped up into the number four position. And driving innovation moved up from the seventh spot last year to number five this year, pointing to the ever-increasing pace of change so many people are experiencing.”

Full survey results being released on December 13

The full results of the 2024 HR / L&D Trends Survey will be released during a free webinar on Wednesday, December 13. Campbell and Witt will present an analysis of open-text responses from survey participants.

“There is a lot more to explore on AI, hiring, retention, engagement, and future leader skills,” says Campbell. “We'll be going deeper into the data and introducing actual open-ended responses that people shared.”

“We hope people both inside and outside the HR / L&D community will join us. People inside the community will have an opportunity to hear from peers. And leaders outside the HR / L&D function will get a chance to learn about focus areas and practical strategies for creating an aligned and engaged work environment.”


2024 Trends: A Look Ahead for HR / L&D

December 13, 2023, 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time

Join Blanchard researchers Jay Campbell and David Witt as they unpack the results of Blanchard’s 2024 HR / L&D Trends Survey. More than 1,200 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals participated in this year’s survey. Participants will explore trends, challenges, and solutions for addressing:

  • Hiring, retention, and employee engagement
  • Using artificial intelligence for design and development
  • Trends in DEI and other focus areas
  • Budget predictions and strategies for 2024

Attendees will also learn about ways to leverage survey insights in their organizations. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore what HR / L&D executives are planning for the coming year.

Register now!

About the Author

Vicki Stanford

Vicki Stanford is a marketing director for Blanchard®. She is the producer of the LeaderChat podcast and a contributing writer for the Ignite! newsletter.

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