Leadership Trends 2023 vs 2024

The leadership trends for 2024 will largely build upon those that emerged in 2023. Learn about the leadership trends in 2023 vs 2024.

The business landscape is constantly evolving, so a new year often brings new challenges for leaders. In 2023, business leaders faced fallout from inflation, supply chain snafus, and a troubling talent shortage, each presenting unique leadership tests.

As we continue through 2024, many top leadership challenges are centered on optimizing workplaces to address employees’ and consumers’ new needs and expectations. The following represent some key workforce trends business leaders will be forced to grapple with in the coming year.

Expanding remote work strategies to incorporate more effective hybrid models

Remote work boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing businesses with a work model that allowed productivity to continue despite the limitations imposed by shelter-in-place orders. An unanticipated effect of the shift to remote work was employees deciding they preferred the model to the pre-Covid norm of being onsite. Consequently, business leaders had to navigate new territory as they explored how to provide flexible work environments while still meeting productivity goals.

In 2023, some studies showed that as many as 98 percent of workers were looking for opportunities that afforded remote work at least part of the time. While some businesses took a stand and demanded that workers return to the office, others saw the trend as an opportunity to attract top talent, especially among younger workers. Overall, 2023 was a year in which business leaders wrestled with the best ways to address the new desire for remote work opportunities.

In 2024, a key leadership trend will be expanding remote work strategies to take advantage of the benefits of hybrid models. Whereas remote work provides maximum flexibility to employees, hybrid models are a compromise aiming to reclaim some of the in-office synergies that have suffered as a result of the shift.

One of the key challenges business leaders will face in this area is developing strategies for effectively overseeing hybrid teams. In most cases, training will need to be updated to equip managers with the perspective and skills they need to ensure alignment and engagement in a hybrid setting.

Developing scheduling strategies that support hybrid models is another challenge leaders will face. The first step in the process is determining how many days employees can work from home during the week. Beyond that, leaders can consider establishing core collaboration hours, during which all employees would be expected to be in the office and available for meetings with colleagues and clients.

Increasing focus on holistic employee well-being

The pandemic also brought employee well-being to the forefront in the workplace. As employees faced the combined stress of health fears, economic uncertainty, and novel work demands, employers saw a rise in well-being issues that led to decreased engagement and productivity.

A focus on employee mental health support was one of the key trends to emerge during 2023. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association showed the majority of employees expected their employers to value and provide support for their mental health, and that the majority of workers felt employers were meeting those needs. 

In 2024, a key trend leaders must contend with is creating holistic employee well-being strategies that expand beyond mental health care. Physical wellness — which includes preventative healthcare and healthy lifestyle incentives — is a key component of holistic well-being. Financial wellness is another key element that could be especially valuable to employees facing an uncertain economic forecast. 

Business leaders should also carefully consider well-being strategies that support professional growth for their employees. The sense of purpose and professional impact from career growth improves overall well-being by supporting better mental health and financial security. Providing career counseling, training, mentoring, and opportunities for expanded responsibilities are all strategies that can promote professional growth and overall employee well-being.

Enhancing tools for seamless virtual teamwork

Leveraging technology to its fullest potential will always be a top challenge for business leaders. In 2023, one of the challenges leaders faced in that area was evaluating how artificial intelligence could be practically deployed while also addressing the risks it presented. Leaders were also forced to wrestle with how AI-driven automation was reshaping the workplace, doing away with some positions and creating the need for new skill sets. 

In 2024, leaders will be called upon to develop new strategies for empowering seamless virtual teamwork. Several technology solutions can play a role in these efforts, including tools that support video conferencing, remote access, and multi-channel messaging. The challenge moving forward will be enhancing the capabilities of those tools so employees are not required to transition between multiple tools to collaborate in productive ways.

Evaluating, selecting, and deploying are key steps in this process. However, the key challenge leaders will face when it comes to empowering seamless virtual teamwork will be ensuring employees have adequate access and are properly trained. Effective strategies will remove the friction associated with embracing new tools so cross-functional and remote collaboration can thrive.

The leadership trends for 2024 will largely build upon those that emerged in 2023. The new challenge before leaders is embracing and supporting new workplace realities and developing strategies that optimize performance within them. The most effective strategies will empower employees to be healthier, more connected, and more confident in the new landscape.

Lauren Winans
Lauren Winans is the Chief Executive Officer and Principal HR Consultant for Next Level Benefits, an HR consulting practice offering clients access to HR professionals for both short-term and long-term projects. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she has 20 years of human resources and employee benefits experience and possesses a deep expertise of HR best practices and what resonates with employees. She founded Next Level Benefits in 2019, offering HR teams access to former corporate HR professionals on-demand when they need them most.