Blanchard Survey Identifies Top HR / L&D Challenges for 2024

December 23, 2023 David Witt

For our 5th annual HR/L&D Trends report, Blanchard surveyed over 1,000 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals to discover how they are dealing with changes in the work environment and what they are doing from an HR and L&D perspective.

Respondents were asked about their top challenges as they navigate a new post-pandemic world with a scarcity of available talent and high expectations amid a changing workforce.

One feature of the Blanchard survey was the use of both structured and unstructured response formats. Participants were asked qualitative open-ended questions as well as quantitative multiple-choice options. This allowed the Blanchard report to contain both data types to paint a more complete picture of what respondents are experiencing.

Top 5 HR Objectives for 2024

The lead question from the structured side of the equation asked respondents to select their top five most important HR objectives to focus on in 2024, from among ten options. The collective results were:

  1. Developing leadership bench strength
  2. Retaining high performers
  3. Attracting workers with the skills we need
  4. Enabling innovation and change
  5. Providing a great employee experience

Top 5 Challenges (Open-Text)

Next, respondents were asked to identify their biggest challenge as an HR/L&D leader going into 2024.  This part of the survey was open-text and participants were free to type in whatever they felt was their top challenge.

Approximately 600 people participated in this open-text section. This data was sorted into five broad categories.

  1. Strategy, alignment, and measurement

One of the biggest challenges for HR/L&D leaders in 2024 focuses on aligning talent development with organizational business objectives to enhance professional competence and improve organizational effectiveness. This dataset emphasizes the need to adapt to changes in business environments including uncertain economic times, evolving priorities, and the impact of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The strategic elements involve creating effective and efficient training programs, addressing the demands of a multi-generational workforce, and ensuring that learning and development initiatives are learner-centric, engaging, and applicable to actual business outcomes.

Measuring the effectiveness of training programs is crucial for gaining buy-in, demonstrating impact, and ensuring alignment with organizational goals. Challenges include assessing actual outcomes and calculating return on investment (ROI). Data collection and analysis skills are vital to enhance training's impact on business results, prioritize efficiency, and prove the value of learning and development initiatives. The focus is on recognizing and quantifying the positive influence of training on overall business outcomes.

  1. Skill development

The top three most mentioned challenges inside this dataset are leadership development and management; talent development and skills gap; and change management and adaptability.

A significant challenge is evident in the need for effective leadership development and management. This includes concerns about the capability of leaders to navigate organizational changes, to invest time in developing their teams, and to cope with the pace of development within the organization.

Another prominent challenge relates to talent development and addressing the skills gap. Organizations express the need to upskill and reskill employees, attract skilled workers, and prepare people to keep up with the rapid rate of change in the business environment.

The dataset also highlights the challenge of managing change and fostering adaptability within the workforce. This encompasses concerns about adapting to digitalization, enhancing self-learning skills, and creating a culture that embraces and adapts to emerging technologies.

These challenges collectively underscore the importance of effective leadership, continuous talent development, and the ability to navigate and facilitate change within organizations to stay competitive in evolving business landscapes.

  1. Attracting, retaining, and developing talent

Overall, organizations are grappling with the dynamic nature of the workforce and seeking strategies to attract, retain, and develop talent in a rapidly changing business landscape. The top three most mentioned challenges in this dataset revolve around talent acquisition, employee retention, and the changing expectations of the workforce.

The first challenge is attracting talent, with a focus on finding qualified candidates with the right skills and attitude for the job. The second challenge is employee retention, which encompasses issues such as high turnover rates, the desire for remote work, and the need to retain high-performing professionals. The third challenge is talent development and management, addressing the difficulties in retaining skilled individuals amid lower learning and development budgets, as well as the ongoing talent war for tech candidates.

  1. Budget, time, and resources

Acquiring appropriate resources for training development was identified as the fourth key need. The goal? To move people from where they are and how they do things now to the new world of tomorrow.

Securing leader commitment to talent development was a common concern. Respondents indicated that encouraging people to make time in their busy schedules for developing new skills would require continuous support from management and demonstrable buy-in from senior leadership.

A lack of technology and staffing resources was also identified. Respondents also questioned the availability and control of L&D budgets to fund learning needs and training initiatives.

  1. Culture, engagement, and experience

The fifth open-text challenge identified the need for a strategic approach to shaping a culture that promotes learning, inclusivity, and positive employee experiences.

Respondents indicated a need for transforming organizational culture, enhancing employee engagement, and improving the overall employee experience. Initiatives such as building a learning culture, embedding organizational values, and fostering innovation to demonstrate a commitment to cultural change were all mentioned.

The focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) aligns with creating an inclusive culture, while engagement-related topics emphasize the importance of keeping employees motivated, connected, and productive in virtual or hybrid work settings. The mention of employee experience underscores efforts to enhance well-being and maintain a positive work environment. Challenges related to burnout, sustaining engagement, and addressing mental health highlight the significance of maintaining a balanced and supportive organizational culture.

Looking Ahead

The year ahead will be a one-step-at-a-time journey for HR and L&D professionals around the world.

As always, the human factor remains crucial, with concerns about employee well-being and the delicate balance between transformation and dehumanization top of mind. These challenges will require strategic planning, innovative designs, and focused application to chart a path through an ever-changing and unpredictable business landscape.

Blanchard’s 2024 HR/L&D Trends Survey identifies challenges and strategies for getting started toward that goal. You can access the complete report here using this link.

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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