#1: 2024 global labour market forecast & an economic threat; Mind hacks for great leadership

What’s in store for 2024? 

Welcome to the first edition of Hacking Work International Newsletter!

What to expect, every Thursday:
News on the global labour market; latest trends in leadership and organisational culture; valuable insights into the professional and educational environments; modern perspectives on jobs, and the way we work.

In today's email:

Forecast for the global labour market in 2024: what is in store?

The International Labour Organization's long-awaited report "World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2024" was published last week, and the conclusion is clear: the global economic situation has undergone a real metamorphosis in 2023, and the effects will be seen well into 2024. The main causes are continuing geopolitical tensions and rising inflation, which prompted central banks to rapidly raise interest rates. The world's large economies, such as China, Turkey and Brazil, have slowed down sharply, affecting industrial activity, investment and trade worldwide. Central banks are expected to keep their tight monetary policy until the end of 2024.

Looking ahead, the global unemployment rate is expected to increase slightly in 2024.

The decline in real wages in most G20 countries, where wage growth has lagged behind inflation, is worrying. Globally, the number of workers living in extreme poverty has increased by around one million in 2023. In addition, almost 8.4 million more workers are living now in moderate poverty.

In terms of roles, the artificial intelligence and machine learning specialist roles will grow by 40% until 2027, according to the WEF Future of Jobs Report 2023, representing around one million new jobs. Analytical skills in general will be useful, whether as a business intelligence analyst, information security analyst or data analyst. Sustainability roles will also be important, with sustainability specialists coming in second.

At the same time, agricultural equipment operators, truck and bus drivers and vocational teachers are expected to see the biggest increases over the next five years. On the other hand, secretaries and accounting clerks are expected to see the most job losses.

jobs forecast to grow the most worldwide between 2023 and 2027

Europe's workers & their mental health problems. Who suffers the most?

38% of employees are at high risk of poor mental health, according to a recent European survey across six countries. The future doesn't just worry us at home, it worries us at work, and that means organisations are affected too - stressed employees lose more than 60 days in productivity a year, according to Telus Health.

The Mental Health Index (MHI) shows that mental health declined last year in four countries - Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with 38% at high risk of poor mental health. On the other hand, in France and Poland, scores improved over the same period, but Poland continues to have the lowest score.

At the same time, 35% of respondents noted an increased sensitivity to post-pandemic stress, "It also makes people more angry, cynical, and prone to conflict, which means that people are creating more stressors for each other" Paula Allen, Global Leader and Senior Vice President of Research and Wellbeing at Telus Health told Euronews Next.

The era of collecting degrees is over

By 2024, 45% of US employers plan to remove bachelor's degree requirements from job advertisements to increase the number of applicants and diversify their workforce, according to a survey by Intelligent.com.

Last year, 55% of companies stopped requiring a bachelor's degree. Of these, 70% did so for entry-level roles, 61% for mid-level roles and 45% for senior roles.

When it comes to recruiting new staff, most (80%) companies are interested in skills rather than the number of degrees. 68% of employers use practical tests to assess candidates, while 64% use personality tests and look at actual working styles.

Unplugging from work, the secret of more effective leadership

Even after hours, a lot of leaders continue to be involved in their work. They analyse an issue, think of a solution, or mentally draft an agenda for the following day. Contrary to popular belief, however, this type of behaviour does not promote performance.

Constantly thinking about work reduces a leader's performance rather than enhancing it, says a study recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Leaders who spend their evenings on job-related tasks feel more exhausted the next morning, which diminishes their leadership abilities. On the other hand, those who detach themselves from work after hours feel more energetic and effective the next day.

The authors of the study advise leaders to draw boundaries between work and other activities, adopt new hobbies, spend time with loved ones, to read a book as a method to decompress after a long day at work, or use vacation time to recharge in order to avoid burnout.

The downside of AI: increased inequality

Around 60% of global jobs could be affected by artificial intelligence in high-income countries, compared with 40% in developing countries and 26% in low-income countries, the International Monetary Fund warns. 

The findings suggest that low-income and emerging economies will be less affected by AI in the near term. Over time, wealth inequality will worsen in many of these countries, as they lack the infrastructure and knowledge to fully exploit the potential of AI.

In general, higher-income and younger workers will see a disproportionate increase in wages after AI is integrated into their work, while lower-income and older workers may fall behind. "We are on the brink of a technological revolution that could jumpstart productivity, boost global growth and raise incomes around the world. Yet it could also replace jobs and deepen inequality," says IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.

In addition, 60% of the world's employees fear job loss, stress and burnout due to the use of generative artificial intelligence, although 95% see the value of collaborating with new technologies. On the other hand, only a third of leaders are aware that their people are worried about losing their jobs, according to an Accenture report.

Byte-sized news

A Chinese company pays bonuses to employees not based on performance, but on miles run, according to Bloomberg. Bonuses can range from a pair of running shoes to 130% of an employee's monthly salary. "A company can last long when its employees are healthy,” Lin Zhiyong, the company's CEO, told the Guangzhou Daily newspaper.
Leaders experience job insecurity as well. It's not just employees who fear losing their jobs, it's CEOs too. A survey conducted worldwide among 3,100 CEOs revealed that 59% of them are concerned about losing their jobs. According to the report, the anxiety that leaders experience comes from their worries about external factors like inflation, interest rates, and global geopolitical issues that are now beyond their control.
Where are the richest people on earth living? 42% of the world's 60 million millionaires live in North America. With about 23 million millionaires, the United States tops the list. China is next with 6.2 million, followed by France and Japan. The three cities with the largest population of millionaires are New York City, Tokyo, and the Bay Area. It is anticipated that there will be 85 million millionaires by 2027.
Asda is testing the 4-day work week for thousands of store managers while maintaining pay and benefits. The move is intended to boost employee satisfaction and revive turnover at the massive British supermarket chain. Preliminary results indicate a rise in staff engagement and productivity. 
Top 10 employers in the United States, according to Glassdoor. Here are the first 10 companies in the 2024 Top 100 Best Places to Work in terms of employee satisfaction: Bain & Company (4.8 out of 5), Nvidia (4.7), ServiceNow, MathWorks, Procore Technologies, In-N-Out Burger (4.6), VMware, Deltek, 2020 Companies, Fidelity Investments (4.5).
We choose a more balanced existence over more money. 52% of workers worldwide would be willing to accept a 20% income decrease in exchange for a better work-life balance, according to a Ford Motor survey. 16,086 people were surveyed, and 77% of them said that living a balanced life was more important to them than moving up the corporate ladder.
The "bicycle for the mind" today is more of a drug than an exercise. Apple founder Steve Jobs described the computer as a "bicycle for the mind" 33 years ago, but the evolution of technology has had unexpected effects. A report by the US general surgeon shows a worrying reality: Americans spend an average of more than four hours a day on smartphones, and more than 50% of them admit their addiction to the devices. Today's reality reflects a major mental health issue: the effects of technology have become more comparable to those of smoking and junk food consumption.

Are employees worried about losing their jobs?

Here's what employer branding specialists can do. 

Employees are getting increasingly gloomy as the labour market changes and huge corporations lay off people. According to My Perfect Resume, 85% of employees fear losing their jobs by 2024.

With such a high percentage of people worried, HR professionals have a responsibility to alleviate these fears and keep employee morale up. Here are five recommendations from HR experts to help you navigate this period:

  • Be transparent: This is especially important if there has previously been a wave of layoffs. To maintain company morale and prevent top performers from leaving, explain why the layoffs were necessary to protect the company's overall financial health.

  • Be empathetic: It's difficult to watch your coworkers lose their job and to remove any seeds of concern. Leaders, guided by HR specialists, must remind their remaining employees of their importance to the company's future.

  • Keep a positive attitude: Don't speak negatively about employees who have lost their jobs. Even if they're being let go for poor performance, criticising those who are no longer with the company could poison the well for those who remain.

  • Bond the team: After layoffs, HR leaders need to focus on team and collaboration to create cohesion.

  • Set realistic expectations: Layoffs often mean more work for those left behind. Be prepared to set clear and achievable goals for how workloads will be redistributed after layoffs.

One physical book is worth up to eight e-books

Traditional paper reading has a much greater impact on text comprehension than digital reading, according to a study by the University of Valencia. Researchers analysed more than 20 studies on the subject, involving nearly 470,000 people, and found that reading on paper can improve comprehension skills six to eight times more than digital reading.

In other words, one hour of reading a physical book can be worth up to eight hours of reading on a digital device. This finding has important implications for how we think about education and children's leisure time, and suggests that we should encourage more traditional reading, especially among younger readers.

The study showed that digital reading does not involve the same depth of information processing, which can lead to a superficial understanding of topics. Interestingly, this negative association between digital reading and comprehension among children is reversed and becomes positive among teenagers and students. The researchers also point out that this practice does not lead to a richer academic vocabulary for children at a critical time when they are moving from learning to read to reading to learn. In conclusion, while digital technology is ubiquitous in our lives, the importance of the printed book remains undeniable, particularly in developing comprehension skills in children and young people.

How NOT TO fire people: the Cloudflare layoffs

Cloudflare, a company known for its online security services, fired 60 employees in a single day, citing poor performance standards without telling them what those were. The controversy comes not from the dismissal itself, but from the way it was handled.

Brittany Pietsch, one of the laid-off employees, was informed of the company's decision via a call on the Teams platform, with no detailed explanation or prior dialogue with her line manager. Instead, the decision was communicated to her by two HR representatives who did not know her personally and seemed unaware of her specific situation. The entire interaction was recorded and published by the former employee, drawing online attention to the company's practices. The discussion continued on Reddit with many more statements. 

Cloudflare's CEO attempted to justify the firings on X, claiming that the process was part of a routine.

Among the red-flagged quotes:

🚩 "We fired ~40 salespeople out of over 1,500 in our go-to-market organisation. That's a normal quarter"
➡️ We're talking about people here, not robots, slaves or animals.

🚩 "Unfortunately, we don't hire perfectly. We try to fire perfectly.”
➡️ Recruiting, onboarding and ramp-up is an investment for both the organisation and the candidate or employee. "We don't hire perfectly" is not an excuse, "we try to hire perfectly" is cynical.

🚩 "Managers should always be involved. HR should be involved, but it shouldn't be outsourced to them."
➡️ The fix that happened here was that they were tasked with firing people they didn't know. The manager washed his hands of it.

🚩 "We think the right thing to do is get people we know are unlikely to succeed off the team as quickly as possible so they can find the right place for them."
➡️  In short, kick people out for their own good. Great.

After all, reality sets in, no matter how many accolades and awards you buy yourself. In the case of Cloudflare, it now seems that the "Best Place to Work" title it received from BuiltIn doesn't reflect the actual employee experience, and the discrepancy between its self-proclaimed image and the reality of its internal practices is hard to justify. What do you think?

2024 layoffs trend

And while we're on the subject of layoffs, more than 7,500 people lost their jobs in the first two weeks of 2024 alone. Some of the most significant announcements are:

Google fires by email. Last week, the company laid off hundreds of employees in its engineering and hardware departments, as well as those working on the Google Assistant. They found access to their work accounts blocked and were informed via email that their roles had been eliminated.
Amazon is laying off several hundred employees from its streaming and studio operations, the company announced internally last week.
X fired 1,213 content moderation specialists. 80% of them were software engineers, and their role was to tackle abusive online content on the social network formerly known as Twitter. The data was obtained by the Australian internet regulator, published for the first time last week, and covers the period from October 2022 to the present, when Elon Musk took over the company. 

Economic threat: the 2020s can go down as a decade of wasted opportunity

The world economy is expected to develop at a slower rate in 2024, for the third year in a row, according to the Global Economic Prospects study - 2.4%, compared to 2.6% in 2023.

This economic slowdown occurs in the context of evident geopolitical tensions, which provide new challenges in the short term.  For example, the war in Ukraine, as well as the serious conflict in the Middle East, could have a significant impact on energy costs, and thus inflation and economic growth. In May 2023, China's youth unemployment rate reached a new high of 20.8%, more than four times the urban unemployment rate for all ages (5.2%).

North America, Europe, and Central Asia are anticipated to experience the steepest economic declines. A minor improvement is projected in Latin America and the Caribbean, with more significant rises in the Middle East and Africa.

Send the newsletter to a friend

The newsletter is written by the Hacking Work team: Ioana, Izabella, Andreea, Ionuț, Loredana, Cristina, Tibi and Doru.

Follow us on X @hackingwork_net

Thank you for reading & sharing.

Join the conversation

or to participate.