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The generational divide on business outcomes in 2024

By Kace O'Neill | |5 minute read

Several factors are influencing the optimism of workers when looking to the horizon of company growth in 2024, with some being less than confident about business conditions improving.


Difference of opinion

New independent research from Robert Half reveals workers are feeling sceptical about their company’s overall growth in 2024 compared to that of their employers. Eighty-nine per cent of employers strongly believe business conditions will be on the uptick in the coming year. Meanwhile, 72 per cent of workers feel the same. This gap between the two can be boiled down to a number of factors, and these were the top reasons cited by workers in the research as to why:

  1. Worse economic situation (74 per cent)
  2. Reduced business opportunities (40 per cent)
  3. Lack of financial resources/budget (33 per cent)
  4. Restructuring/transformation uncertainty (26 per cent)

Nicole Gorton, director at Robert Half, further explained these results: “Continued financial stresses placed upon household budgets, caused by recent mortgage interest rate rises and the rising cost of living may be behind why workers overwhelmingly see a different economic situation than their employers and therefore hold less growth confidence than them.” On the other hand, employers believe that business is on the rise in 2024 for a multitude of reasons that will drive opportunities for growth:

  1. Expanding business opportunities (44 per cent)
  2. Increased product/service demand (42 per cent)
  3. An improved economic situation (38 per cent)
  4. Increased financial resources/budget (36 per cent)

“From a business leader’s perspective, increasingly positive sentiment and encouraging employment numbers are early indicators that 2024 is going to be a year of recovery and growth, which explains their increased confidence in their company’s growth. Companies are transitioning from survival mode to proactive mode,” said Ms Gorton.

Generational divide

Not only is there a divide between the employer and employee on this subject, but a key discrepancy occurred in the report displaying that Gen Z (82 per cent) and Millennial workers (80 per cent) are more optimistic about the future horizons than their Gen X (76 per cent) and Baby Boomer (65 per cent) counterparts. An interesting difference that Ms Gorton puts down to more experience of challenging economic times.

“While the quarterly average number of redundancies that occurred was lower in 2023 compared to pre-COVID-19, the continued squeeze on company profit margins may be unnerving older workers, particularly as they have experienced more economically challenging times during their working lifetimes than younger workers,” said Ms Gorton.

Keys to reinvigorate

The rejuvenation of employee confidence in business is very important to overall company morale. Robert Half’s research explains a number of ways that employers must restore that confidence in their employees:

  1. Strategy and growth is not “one-size-fits-all”.
  2. Goals must be measurable and achievable.
  3. Buy-in from all stakeholders is critical.
  4. Empower the company to live the business growth strategy.
Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill

Kace O'Neill is a Graduate Journalist for HR Leader. Kace studied Media Communications and Maori studies at the University of Otago, he has a passion for sports and storytelling.