As part of G-P’s annual Pangeo Predictions series, our EMEA team recently hosted a year-end webinar with regional leaders to discuss what the year ahead might hold. Denis McGauran, VP of Global Customer Success at G-P, sat down with three leading HR and technology experts to gauge their projections for 2024.
Ruth Meehan, Head of People Partners (International) at Udemy, Robert Mac Giolla Phadraig, Founder of Talent Advantage and Talent Summit, and Russ Shaw, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, joined forces to share their unique views on the business trends and technologies that will likely shape the year ahead. Many interesting points emerged during the discussion — with that in mind, let’s explore some of the key takeaways. The EMEA findings below, along with insights from other key global regions, will also be featured in G-P’s Pangeo Predictions eBook coming in January.
#1: Leaders will need to prioritize investment in training and upskilling.
Companies worldwide witnessed the onset of generative AI in 2023, and with the technology’s influence continuing to spread to a broader spectrum of job functions in 2024, the importance of upskilling was a central theme at this year’s panel. At Udemy, an online learning platform, Meehan has witnessed this shift in real time, sharing that they’ve seen a 1,454% year-on-year increase in people looking for professional cloud DevOps. By cultivating in-house skills, companies can not only meet their customers’ evolving needs but also stay ahead of technological shifts in 2024.
For Meehan, the most important thing for companies to keep in mind when upskilling their employees is empathy. This will help reassure workers that AI’s purpose is to complement and enhance their capabilities rather than supplant their roles.
However, as development budgets face cuts, Shaw highlighted the importance of actively investing in these programs to counter productivity declines and boost upskilling. “Now you’ve got the advent of some of these pretty remarkable tools that can make employees more productive,” he says. “Companies will benefit from that, but they’ve got to invest in their workforces to ensure that it’s not just 10% of their employees trained in these skills and tools. The private sector should step up and say, ‘We should be funding this. We should be putting money towards courses that our employees can go to to get these skills and to get this training.’”
#2: As AI angst rises, education will be the antidote.
Naturally, upskilling means change, and change can often be accompanied by fear and hesitation. Therefore, the way employers manage this transition will significantly impact workers’ allegiance, overall experiences, and morale. As such, a focus on education programs and training will be key to offer team members the reassurance, guidance, and advice they need to succeed.
Shaw noted that the key to walking this tightrope lies in empathy and stated that leaders must think outside their own bubble and put themselves in their employees’ shoes. This is a thought process that Meehan sympathized with, sharing that AI’s rapid and steady march into the workforce made her harbor many apprehensions at first. However, after participating in one of her own company’s AI training courses, she now has confidence that the technology will aid people’s work rather than replace it.
“I think it’s really about giving people those tools and that reassurance that they are going to continue to be valuable and they are continually valued within the organization,” Meehan concluded.
#3: HR will continue to prove its worth in navigating churning waters.
Mac Giolla Phadraig predicts that the intersection of geopolitics in the workplace, coupled with the erosion of trust in certain political systems, will likely cause headaches for HR leaders in 2024. This heightened polarization will be on particularly high alert within the next 12 months as both the U.S. and the UK face major elections. Shaw added that these events will create “a lot of noise in terms of the day-to-day operations of businesses.”
This presents an escalating challenge for business leaders who expect people to show up and bring their best selves to work every day. However, Mac Giolla Phadraig has no doubt that HR leaders will showcase once again their ability to guide companies through tricky waters.
“I believe there’s a muscle memory that has been built amongst HR leadership in particular, who’ve experienced more organizational change in the last four years than I’ve witnessed in my lifetime,” he says. “And I think there’s a superpower that has been built within HR leadership that now needs to be expressed into next year, in terms of navigating the uncertainty, the complexity, the challenges and opportunities of both AI, geopolitics, diversity, equality, inclusion, and skills development.”
#4: It’s not just employees that need to upskill — leadership will have to evolve too.
According to Shaw, technology as a whole, not just AI, is something that leaders will need to come to grips with in 2024. With the seemingly overnight emergence of generative AI in late 2022, leaders were compelled to pivot and implement strategic measures rapidly. As these tools become even more refined and sophisticated, a considerable emphasis will be placed on employee upskilling; however, Shaw raised a critical question: “How do we ensure that our leaders are tech-savvy and that they are adaptable to what these new technologies are going to be doing?”
To this end, Mac Giolla Phadraig stated that when emerging technologies like AI are thrown into the mix, what matters most is that leadership can shoulder the ethical responsibilities of decision-making. Maintaining awareness of the impact of AI on individuals is essential for businesses as they navigate decisions related to workforce integration. “How do we protect our people while managing the efficiency of our performance?” asked Mac Giolla Phadraig.
For Meehan, the blueprint must include the workers themselves. “I think when you actually include people and incorporate them into what you’re introducing in the organization, whether that be AI, whether that be learning, people want a voice … And they want to have some agency in their development [and] in how they get that development delivered to them,” she said.
Unlock success in 2024 with G-P.
As for G-P, our forecast is this: The new opportunities and challenges that lie directly ahead of us are all global in nature, and having a global mindset will be crucial to planning for and achieving sustainable growth. When it comes to navigating the journey of global growth, no one is as experienced as G-P. The insights shared in our EMEA edition of Pangeo Predictions serve as a guiding compass for the year ahead. We will continue to gather predictions from thought leaders around the world, so stay tuned for our 2024 Pangeo Predictions eBook coming in January.
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