Art: Charter / Photo: iStock Kseniya Khomyakova, OsAdiemus

As we approach the second half of 2024, Charter checked in with top executives and thinkers about the macro trends that should be on the minds of workplace leaders for the second half of the year. Below you’ll find their answers—excerpted for space, with key points bolded—and you can read their full responses here.

As you’ll see, among the trends they highlight are the turbulence of the election year, job uncertainty related to AI, pushback against diversity and inclusion initiatives, and a cooling but resilient job market. But several noted that they’re optimistic despite the intensity of the forces pressuring workplaces and workers, seeing the opportunity to lead through those strains with “grace and strength,” as Medley’s Edith Cooper puts it. Keep reading below to see how they’re doing that. And let us know what trends you’re watching for the second half by replying to newsletter or emailing us at

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Edith Cooper | Co-founder, Medley, and board director, PepsiCo and Amazon

I am filled with a sense of cautious optimism, despite the pervasive challenges we face as a society at large. The uncertainty we see—from geopolitical tensions to the upcoming US election—presents an opportunity for organizations and leaders to demonstrate and deepen resilience, steadfastness, and comfort with ambiguity. It is during these times of division and volatility that our commitment to what has made us and our partners and clients successful becomes even more critical. By embracing diverse perspectives and fostering a balanced approach, we can navigate these complexities with more grace and strength. The stresses on global financial markets are undeniable, but they also open avenues for innovation and growth if approached with a forward-thinking mindset.

In addition to these macroeconomic and political trends, the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence, particularly generative AI, is top of mind. The conversation around AI has moved beyond mere speculation to practical application and continuous learning. For me, this means pushing myself and encouraging others to climb the learning curve, to truly understand AI and its implications. This involves not only recognizing the efficiencies AI can bring to our daily operations but also developing a clear perspective on how it will transform the organizations we are involved with. Amidst all these dynamics, it is vital to stay human and centered. As we approach the summer months, taking the time to rest and regenerate is not just a luxury but a necessity. A period of rejuvenation will equip us with the energy and clarity needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Brian Elliott | Co-founder of Future Forum and Charter senior advisor

Election season this fall is going to dominate the news and people’s mental and emotional capacity in the US and, whether we want it to or not, spill over into the workplace. At a minimum, employees are likely to be more burned out or anxious about the elections in November, and we can be reasonably confident that there won’t be absolute clarity on November 6th. Too many issues in the workplace have also become political, if not politicized, not only around topics like DEI but also in terms of immigration, abortion given that most Americans’ healthcare is tied to their employer, and workplace flexibility. Companies would do well to think about how they channel energy productively into civic engagement broadly as well as locally, and refresh now their understanding of which issues are directly relevant to their purpose and their employees.

The hype cycle around generative AI has been intense, and every executive has been asked, more than once, how they plan to leverage genAI to drive efficiency in their organization. Like every major technological shift before it, the impact of genAI will be a J-curve: negative initial results with long-term impact created through experimentation, iteration and slow, steady progress. I’ve heard from too many executives that they expect to be able to reduce headcount broadly and in the short term. At many of those same companies, expensive AI tools have been handed out widely but with limited support for experimentation and proof of concepts. The predictable result: limited usage by employees and no discernable increase in productivity. Those are the folks likely to pull back, while those who continue to invest in experimentation and iteration eventually start to see results.

Jacqui Canney | Chief people officer, ServiceNow

The impact of AI remains a major focus. At ServiceNow, AI powers 1 million business processes and 40 billion workflows. We have two key priorities: harness AI to accelerate growth and develop talent so our people have the necessary skills for the AI era. GenAI is transforming how we work while supercharging business growth. The key to leveraging AI effectively is a winning talent strategy, not just a tech strategy. GenAI is fueling a major transformation in jobs and demand for skilled tech workers. To seize this moment, we must stay ahead of the evolving job market through strategic workforce planning, adopting a product mindset, and keeping people at the center of everything we do. We also need to stay focused on continuous learning and skills development to prepare our employees for the jobs of the future.

Despite the potential of AI, there are real concerns about its impact on jobs. Leaders have a philosophical choice. Those who choose to focus on the humanity of their people and guide them along this journey by clearly showing how AI will enhance, not replace, their roles will win in the long term. AI reduces time spent on repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus on more creative, strategic, and innovative work. The focus on building skills and the shift to doing work that matters will lead to a more engaged workforce, driving new revenue streams, improving margins, and accelerating top-line growth.

Adrianne Smith | Senior vice president and senior partner, chief diversity and inclusion officer, FleishmanHillard

I’m optimistic! The notion that DEI efforts are fading is exaggerated. My mantra is, ‘Don’t Believe the Hype—DEI will never DIE.’ Companies might be quieter about their initiatives, but the work is very much alive. This was reinforced at a recent chief diversity officer roundtable hosted by FleishmanHillard featuring Ruth Umoh, Fortune editor and raceAhead author. We heard from companies that they’re still deeply committed and are integrating DEI into their strategies and focusing on structural barriers. And we know that with the 2024 election on the horizon, there’s a big lens on scenario planning. I was inspired by the dedication, willingness to collaborate and strategic thinking shared at the roundtable and know that strong leadership and clear communication will be crucial to keep the momentum going.

Helen Lee Kupp | Co-founder of Women Defining AI

I feel cautiously optimistic. Despite data showing that women are still lagging men in AI adoption, during a time when it’s estimated that women’s jobs are 9% more likely to be disrupted by AI, I have seen how powerful it has been to create accessible and easy ways for people to get hands on with AI quickly. I see smart, ambitious women and people generally who are eager to learn, eager to try, and ready to rethink how they work. And that’s encouraging.

More importantly, I’m seeing an overall shift in the industry that was very focused on just the tech, to being more and more aware of asking ‘how should we use AI?’ Top of mind for me is not only how to discover ways that AI can ‘make better, not just replace,’ but pushing my leaders to start thinking ahead towards two big open questions beyond this year: 1) how and what do we continue to teach/learn/upskill as AI becomes more widely adopted? and 2) how do we meaningfully experiment with new team and org structures that adapt to this new reality?

Michael Seckler | CEO, Justworks

Looking at trends within Justworks’ customer base (predominantly small businesses with under 100 employees in white-collar industries), we’re seeing hiring increasing, involuntary terminations leveling out, and a really low rate of voluntary terminations. When I look at this, it’s clear to me that employees are holding onto their current roles, and they’re not making the jump to other companies.

In the summer of 2022, we saw hiring decreasing and involuntary terminations increasing as folks started laying off employees. Now, in 2024, we’re seeing things level out. Small business leaders are seemingly more confident in navigating the current economic landscape, but employees seem to be experiencing anxiety about layoffs or the ability to find a new role if they leave their current one, so they’re staying put.

Over the past two years, we were preparing for today: when small businesses would ramp hiring and new business formation would be on the rise again. Sparks of entrepreneurship are abundant—I am optimistic and excited about the year ahead.

Lisa Simon | Chief economist, Revelio Labs

I will be watching whether the labor market, especially in the tech industry, regains some dynamism. We are seeing slight signs of hiring picking back up already. When hiring does come back, we expect attrition to rise more than hiring. Currently attrition rates in tech are at the lowest we’ve ever seen, coupled with very low employee sentiment. That combination makes me think we’ll see a strong rise in attrition when confidence in the market comes back. Employers may want to start thinking about strategies to retain talent where desired.

Aneesh Raman | Vice president and workforce expert, LinkedIn

I spend most of my time helping organizations and talent leaders understand and manage the big changes coming to work due to rapid advances in AI. What I’ve realized is the organizations that are a step ahead in this shift are not necessarily the most advanced technology companies. The early innovators I’ve come across are the ones who realize that as much as AI is a technology challenge that requires your best and brightest minds on machine learning and large language models in the room, it’s also a people challenge that requires your best and brightest minds on human intelligence and change management in the room. Many innovators are in industries you might not expect, like healthcare and retail.

Over the next six months, we’ll start to see more and more companies pick up on this insight—which inevitably creates some exciting openings for chief human resources officers to step up and help lead AI transformation work. Part of this shift means HR teams need to get smart fast about AI and see themselves as the early adopters. We’ve already seen that hirers using LinkedIn’s AI-assisted messages see a 40% higher acceptance rate from candidates, giving them valuable time back for the human relationships aspect of the job like coaching and 1:1 time with candidates. Our latest research with Microsoft also suggests a growing gap between employees who are already using AI at work, and employers who aren’t providing much guidance. We’ll start to see more employers embrace the role of educator when it comes to AI training and tools.

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