Talent Trends 2024: Understanding workplace expectations

Michael Page's latest Talent Trends report – The Expectation Gap – is out and serves as a beacon for businesses seeking to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the global workforce. Through extensive research involving 50,000 participants across 37 countries, this report provides a deep dive into the motivations, attitudes, and values driving skilled professionals across diverse industries. 

Key findings  from the report

The 2024 Michael Page Talent Trends report reveals essential insights for businesses to stay ahead, remain agile, and inform an effective workforce planning process. From salary considerations to company culture, work-life balance, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), and talent development, the report offers a panoramic view of the modern workforce landscape. 

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The emergence of The Expectation Gap and the implications for organisational leaders 

At the heart of this year's report lies the emergence of an Expectation Gap in the workplace.

When it comes to considering accepting or applying for a new role, over half of respondents (54%) said a higher salary is essential. Employers recognise this challenge with 60% revealing they had found it difficult to hire in the last 12 months, with 49% citing matching salary expectations as the main barrier.  

But here's the twist: offering a good salary isn't always enough to keep employees around. Our data shows that once people are in a job, they prioritise more than just the money, with work-life balance and well-being taking the top spot to job satisfaction.

A notable 44% of organisations find it increasingly challenging to retain their workforce compared to the previous year and so understanding the evolving demands of professionals in the hiring process is crucial. 

Today's talent is more diverse than ever before, with workers spanning from fresh graduates to seasoned professionals, diverse backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. As a result, building an inclusive culture has never been more difficult or crucial and the need for organisations to be open and agile in their people strategies is paramount.  

Key themes in 2024 Talent Trends:

Embracing autonomy and flexibility to accommodate the growing demand for work-life balance.

Although salary is still the key driver when it comes to accepting or applying for new roles, there has been a noteworthy shift in priorities when it comes to retention. Over half (56%) of respondents said work-life balance is more important to their job satisfaction than salary, suggesting that workplace flexibility is gaining traction as a top priority for employees. 

Nothing demonstrates this more than the data revealing 64% of workers would be willing to refuse a promotion to maintain their well-being. What’s more, this has increased 7% year-over-year.

This trend calls to question whether work-life balance has become more valuable than pay and career advancement and underscores a change in the meaning of flexibility, with a growing demand for options like flexible working hours and hybrid working.

Cultivating an environment of respect, trust, and inclusivity to foster employee engagement and retention.

Only two fifths of respondents (39%) believe their workplace is inclusive, highlighting the pressing need for action in this area. The type of discrimination most often felt was age, cited by 47% of respondents. What’s more, it was not any one part of the workforce feeling this impact as those in their 30s or over 50 were most likely to be discriminated against due to age.  

To bridge this "Expectation Gap”, organisations must evaluate  their people strategies across various fronts. This includes prioritising fostering environments of respect and trust and implementing cohesive DE&I strategies . 

Proactively addressing technological advancements and supporting workforce learning and development to stay relevant in an increasingly digital landscape.

Moreover, as workplaces continue to evolve amidst technological advancements, a proactive response to change is essential to closing the skills gap. Contrary to popular belief that AI is a futuristic face, it is already being adopted by many in the workplace. However, what’s important to recognise is it's not ready to replace humans yet.

Instead, embracing the technology as a tool to enhance productivity and efficiency can pave the way for long-term success. Encouragingly, there is a strong willingness among employees to learn about AI across the UK workforce, with 92% expressing a desire to enhance their AI literacy. 
Investing in learning and development has never been more critical – for businesses and their employees.

What’s next for your strategic workforce planning?

There is no “one size fits all” solution to an effective people strategy, as organisational challenges come in different shapes and sizes. However, there are strategies and steps businesses can take as part of their hiring and onboarding process to bridge the expectation gap and cultivate a thriving workforce.    

Michael Page's 2024 Talent Trends report provides a comprehensive roadmap for businesses seeking to meet the expectations of the modern workforce effectively. 

By leveraging the insights gleaned from the report, organisations can adapt their talent strategies to navigate the complexities of the evolving business landscape successfully. Access the full report and interactive tool to embark on a journey towards bridging the expectation gap and unlocking the full potential of your workforce.

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