What to expect at work in 2024

By Jeanne Sahadi | CNN

New York — Welcome to the first business day of 2024.

You may be wondering what this new year has in store for your career — your pay, your benefits, your schedule and your job prospects.

To find out, we consulted with a number of workplace experts and consultants to get a sense of what trends and changes they expect.

Your paycheck: Hikes ahead

Many employees are likely to see raises that keep pace with — or even beat — inflation, which at last reading stood at 3.1%.

A salary budget survey taken in December by workplace advisory firm WTW found that US employers are planning for an average salary increase of 4% in 2024. That is less than the 4.4% jump they offered in 2023 but above the average 3.1% increase seen in 2021 and earlier years.

The size of the planned increases are due to inflation and concerns over a tight labor market, WTW said.

Another recent survey by consulting firm Mercer found that employers expect to promote just under 10% of their employees this year. Those who are promoted will see a real jump in pay: “On average, employees can expect to see a 9.2% pay increase for a one-level promotion,” Mercer said.

Your benefits: Expanded leave options, more financial help

Many employers are expected to expand benefit offerings to better support their employees’ health, family lives and finances.

Mercer, for instance, notes that employers are starting to apply their paid bereavement leave policy not only to situations when an employee’s immediate family member dies such as a parent, spouse or child but also when an extended family member, chosen family member or close friend does.

Also rapidly growing is employers’ willingness to extend bereavement leave to employees after a pregnancy loss (e.g., through miscarriages and stillbirths), said Rich Fuerstenberg, a senior partner in Mercer’s health and benefits practice.

Women employees going through menopause is another group employers will seek to support more. That includes making it less taboo to discuss menopause at work; raising employee (and manager) awareness of helpful benefits like work-flex options already on offer; giving women more control over their work environment; and at some employers, offering time off when needed.

Expect, too, to see a wider variety of employers offer more financial wellness benefits in 2024. A Mercer employer survey conducted in September found that roughly a third of employers said they plan to start offering employee discounts, basic money management tools, tuition assistance and education about investing and financial planning. In addition, nearly 40% said they plan to add financial and debt counseling services. And a third said they will start offering student loan assistance.

In addition, thanks to provisions taking effect this year under the retirement law Secure 2.0, your employer may opt to offer you one or more new benefits that will help you save more for retirement while simultaneously helping you to pay off your student loans or build up emergency savings.

Your schedule: More 4-day workweeks may be on tap

The idea of a four-day workweek has been discussed for years. But 2024 may be the year some employers across industries act on it — or at least take incremental steps toward making it a reality, according to Emily Rose McRae, who leads the future of work practice at consulting and research firm Gartner Inc., which will release its workplace predictions for 2024 later this week.

“Some companies will ease into it,” McRae said, noting that may mean taking small, initial measures such as introducing Fridays off every other week or half-day Fridays.

She anticipates some brand-name companies may even go further within the next year.

Why? “There are twin pressures,” McRae said. One is the need to attract and retain talent at many levels across all industries. The other is the need to provide equity in their flexible work policies for front-line workers, whose jobs require them to be on site while their desk-based colleagues may be allowed to work from home for part of the week.

McRae noted that research shows a four-day workweek can boost productivity if people get more rest as a result. But that requires being very deliberate in how one schedules a 4-day week for a team and being thoughtful about how and where work gets done in ways that don’t burn out employees.

And what about hybrid work? For starters, it’s here to stay. “After three years of turmoil it finally looks like [work from home] has stabilized and 2024 will look a lot like 2023. … Overall levels of WFH in the US have been flat as a pancake since the beginning of 2023,” said workplace researcher and economist Nick Bloom of Stanford University.

Employees who can work a hybrid schedule are generally working from home roughly 30% of the week (or about 1.5 days), Bloom noted. That is more than four times higher than the 7% recorded prepandemic.

Your job prospects

Apart from the general health of the job market, which still has more openings than job seekers, many more career opportunities may open up this year for those without a college degree or even years of experience for a given role. That’s due to an anticipated rise in skills-based hiring and an increasing use of artificial intelligence to assess competencies and potential among job candidates.

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