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2024: The year of employee connectedness

By Nick Wilson | |8 minute read

This year, we’ve learnt a lot about how people work, how leaders can boost engagement and wellbeing, and what works and what doesn’t. Building on these insights, let’s take a look at what leaders should be thinking about in 2024.

Building on its most recent data, Gallup has given its projections for what the coming year has in store. Relationships are the theme for 2024, said Gallup. From those between coworkers, managers and their employees, remote and in-office workers, and beyond, the way we connect through work is rapidly evolving.

“Many organisations are radically retooling the ways they do business, leaving many employees, including managers, stressed and disconnected,” said Gallup. “To win in 2024, leaders should consider retooling their management strategies to better support the changing needs of their workforce and organisational culture.”


Though this will look different for each business, leaders should make room in their management strategies for the following six trend areas:

1. Stress

Worker stress levels, globally, are at a record high and have been that way since the pandemic, found Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report. In the US, Canada, and east Asia, 52 per cent of employees reported feeling a high level of stress in the past day. Australia and New Zealand came in tied second at 47 per cent.

At the same time, 34 per cent of workers report lower mental health than six months ago, while 37 per cent are experiencing lower engagement and a decreased sense of belonging. Stress can be the result of an impossibly long list of factors, both directly related to and external to work. That said, data suggests that return-to-work mandates might be playing a role.

Though many are struggling with engagement, Gallup data suggests that it is overall on the rise, leading it to ask the following: “As we move into 2024, which trend will win out: the ongoing rise in stress or the improvement in employee engagement?”

2. Engagement

Employee engagement in the US has been slowly rising since a post-pandemic slump. According to Culture Amp, 71 per cent of Australian employees are engaged, placing the nation in the bottom 48 per cent of countries in terms of employee engagement.

“Engaged people are emotionally committed to their organisation. These people stay at their organisations longer and are more productive and effective,” explained Culture Amp. “Successful organisations have more engaged employees.”

Engagement intersects with a sense of connectedness to organisational purpose. Concerningly, fewer employees globally report this sense of connection, which has tangible repercussions on staff turnover, productivity, loyalty, and wellbeing.

3. Trust

The level of trust felt by employees towards their employees took a hit over the pandemic, slumping to near decade lows in mid-2022. However, 2023 has seen a progressive increase in trust levels, signalling the effectiveness of post-pandemic leadership strategies. That said, only 23 per cent of employees in the US strongly agree that they trust the leadership of their organisation. In Australia, as of 2022, approximately 60 per cent of Australians trusted businesses, while levels of trust in NGOs, the government and media tumbled substantially.

According to Gallup’s data, 95 per cent of employees trust employers who communicate clearly, lead and support change, and inspire confidence in the future. Therefore, leaders who engage in thoughtful, proactive, and transparent leadership should be well placed in 2024.

4. Managers

“Changes to the workplace have hit managers especially hard,” explained Gallup. “In 2023, managers were more likely than non-managers to be disengaged, burnt out and job hunting.”

Indeed, data suggests that managers who believe their employers care little for their wellbeing, their intent to leave and engagement levels suffer. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “management squeeze”.

The importance of effective management cannot be overstated. For instance, management accounts for 70 per cent of the variance in employee engagement levels. The impact of unhappy management is not limited to management.

“Many managers now have more work to do on a tighter budget with new teams. And from a relationship standpoint, they often find themselves caught between aligning with new directives from leaders and meeting the changing expectations of their employees,” explained Gallup. “What’s certain is that managers will need more training and support to lead effectively in today’s new work environment riddled with new expectations for managers.”

5. Hybrid strategy

What employees want when it comes to hybrid work is clarity. Leaders should develop clear, long-term hybrid strategies to manage employee expectations, said Gallup. Data suggests that approaches to hybrid work are largely predictive of future approaches now. A survey found that approximately 80 per cent of chief human resources officers (CHROs) in Fortune 500 companies have no plans to change their hybrid balance in the next 12 months.

Now that hybrid approaches have stabilised, employers should be looking to formulate long-term strategies, said Gallup: “It’s time for leaders to optimise their hybrid workplace.”

“That means doing things like creating a compelling workplace value proposition, empowering teams to collaborate more effectively, revising performance management systems, and training managers to be great hybrid coaches.”

6. Hybrid culture

“Hybrid culture can be great – if done right,” said Gallup. While hybrid work poses obvious threats to employee connectedness and culture more broadly, it is not without its cultural upsides. It can signal, for instance, that a workplace is adaptable, open-minded, and flexible. It can be an effective way to prove investment in employees and their wellbeing.

Hybrid workers have higher engagement, better overall wellbeing, and lower turnover risk. However, the challenges must be managed.

“Working apart more often and on different schedules creates some new obstacles,” explained Gallup. “Organisations that plan to move forward with hybrid for the long term must thoughtfully create and fully commit to a strategy for how they best communicate, collaborate, build relationships and solidify their work culture.”



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.


Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.


Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.