The Future of Work: 2024 Job Trends and Directions

UC Berkeley Extension
33 min readFeb 7, 2024


Welcome to the Future of Work podcast with UC Berkeley Extension and the EDGE in Tech Initiative at the University of California, focused on expanding diversity and gender equity in tech. EDGE in Tech is part of CITRIS, the Center for IT Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute. UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education arm of the University of California at Berkeley.

The year 2024 is off and running. Are you making any career or professional development resolutions? To help you envision the future, let’s explore trends and new directions for career growth. To shed light on the jobs that are in demand and growing sectors, we need to look into the data from employees and employers. Fortunately for us, we are going to get a peek behind the glass door. We’re excited to have Daniel Zhao, lead economist and senior manager data science at Glassdoor, who has been doing research on trends in the job market and workplace.

Over the past six years as part of a team, Daniel has explored topics such as employee satisfaction, salary transparency, pay equity leveraging alternative data sources like reviews, salaries, and posts from Glassdoor. Prior to joining the Economic Research team, he worked as a data scientist. In case you’re not familiar with it, Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies and their management for the companies that they have worked for.

Glassdoor is known for providing job listings, salary reports, and interview reviews and insights into the real working conditions, benefits, and company culture of many employees based on this feedback from the employee. Welcome, Daniel.

Daniel Zhao: Hi, Jill. Thanks for having me.

Jill Finlayson: Hey, I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you mentioned you love helping people find a job and a company they love. How do you do that?

Daniel Zhao: Well, I love working at Glassdoor because it’s a great way to fulfill that mission. And the thing that really stands out about Glassdoor’s platform and the way I think about promoting a healthy and effective job search is having more information — having more information, more transparency, that helps people make informed decisions, find those jobs and companies that are a good fit for them rather than just taking a shot in the dark and not really knowing what a company is like until you arrive on your first day.

Jill Finlayson: So what does it mean to have a company that you love? What are people looking for?

Daniel Zhao: That’s a great question. So I think a lot of people their initial reaction is like, well, it’s about money, right? It’s how much I’m being paid. And certainly, that is important. But in terms of your day-to-day satisfaction, what actually gets you out of bed in the morning and gets you through the workday, well we found that our research is that it actually tends to be a few other factors besides money. It tends to be culture and values, career opportunities, and actually senior leadership.

And those three factors that are the most important in our research have actually been the same since the last few years, even before COVID. And I think actually what’s interesting is that even though those factors are the same, people talk about them a little bit differently now than they do before COVID. So for example, senior leadership is something that’s important. But more recently, people are talking a lot about transparency and communication from senior leadership because of all the crises that we’ve had in the last few years. People really want to have that communication, that open-door policy from management so they understand what’s going on and how it might affect them.

Jill Finlayson: Glassdoor just published that research for 2024. And you’ve identified, I think it’s eight different trends. But I want to start out by asking you, Which trends surprised you the most? Let’s talk about that.

Daniel Zhao: I think probably the trend that surprised me the most is looking at some of the long-term impact of layoffs. I think it’s no surprise that layoffs have a negative impact on employee morale. As soon as layoffs happen not only does that have an extreme disruptive effect on the people who are laid off, but even for the people who remain at the company, there is a big impact on morale. And actually, what we found is that extends even many months after the layoffs. There isn’t kind of an immediate rebound in how people are feeling.

But that extends many months, even six months plus after the layoffs have happened. And that affects how people feel especially about senior leadership, about the business outlook for the company. And that’s really something that I think employers should be taking to heart in terms of making sure that their employees are re-energized after a layoff and focused to make sure that they feel like they have a future at that company.

Jill Finlayson: That’s a hugely timely issue as we keep hearing about companies laying off 9% of their workforce. That means 1 in 10, almost.

Daniel Zhao: Well, we have seen some layoffs in recent news, but certainly it kind of depends on the industry that you’re talking about. And I think it’s also always a useful frame of reference to keep in mind like, What is a typical layoff or what does a layoff look like in this economy? So for example, the most recent data from the JOLTS survey from the government from November and that said there were 1.5 million people laid off in November, which sounds — well, I mean it doesn’t just sound like it. That is a really, really high number.

But at the same time, that’s actually lower than what it was pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, a typical month would be something like 1.8 million. And so that’s always just an important number to keep in mind when we’re hearing layoffs in the headlines because you might hear about a company that’s laying off 1,000 people, which is definitely a significant number. But out of 1.5 million, that might not even move the needle on that top line figure.

So I think it’s always important to keep in mind that contrast between the household names that are laying people off that you might hear about in the news versus the more typical layoff which might be a mom-and-pop restaurant down the street closing down and having to lay off their staff because they just couldn’t make the financials. That’s never going to end up in the news, but that’s actually probably a more common example of what layoffs look like in today’s economy.

Jill Finlayson: That’s really helpful to keep that high level view and look at overall, how is the job market doing?

Daniel Zhao: Well, it’s interesting because the theme for 2023 was resilience for the job market. It was definitely much more resilient through the year than we had expected because if you remember going back a year ago, everybody heading into 2023 was really concerned about a recession. There were a lot of forecasters who were calling for a recession in 2023. And even business leaders, I would say like almost every business leader was planning at least for the possibility of a recession.

And instead, we got a fairly healthy job market and economy through 2023 where things were much stronger than expected. That being said, the job market and the economy are slower. They did slow and cool over the course of 2023. So I think as we head into 2024, there are some cracks. There are some downside risks for the economy, even though there is more optimism that we’ll be able to get inflation under control and keep the economy humming. But certainly, that’s not a foregone conclusion. There are some risks on the horizon.

Jill Finlayson: So let’s talk about who’s in the workforce. We often talk about how our jobs are very multigenerational. What are you seeing there?

Daniel Zhao: So the number one trend in our 2024 workplace trends report is looking at the differences in generations. And actually, our prediction for 2024 is that Generation Z workers will overtake baby boomers in the full-time workforce in terms of how many people are in that full-time workforce. So 2024 will be that first year that Gen Z really overtakes boomers. And I think it’s interesting because to some extent, demographic trends shouldn’t really surprise anybody, right?

These things take a long time to evolve. They’re very quite slow-moving even though they are very substantial. But I think this was an interesting one to see when we were doing the research and just kind of snuck up on us, I suppose. And we know that in some respects, Gen Z is different than their predecessors, right? We know that Gen Z, for example, cares a lot more about diversity and inclusion than some of their earlier predecessors. They’re more willing to talk about mental health in the workplace and some of these other topics that might have been taboo in the past.

But on the flip side, I think actually, a lot of commentary overstates the differences between generations. For example, a lot of people say like, oh, these younger generations are always job-hopping, there’s no loyalty. And I think it’s actually important to keep in mind that a lot of these differences are not about differences in generation. They’re about differences in age. When people are younger, they tend to switch jobs more often because you’re looking for that job that can actually help set you up for your career in the long run.

And actually by that standard, Gen Z, millennials, they’re not really any more likely to job-hop than previous generations were at that age. So I think it’s always important to keep in mind when we’re talking about these newer generations of the workforce. There are some differences, but we should always have a critical eye in terms of overclaiming what these differences between generations are

Jill Finlayson: Does it change anything in the way supervisors should manage their employees?

Daniel Zhao: To the earlier point, I think supervisors or employers, more generally, don’t necessarily need to reinvent their playbooks, right? Many of the things that Gen Z cares about are the same things that their predecessors cared about. They want career opportunities. They want to be treated well in the workplace. They want open communication, transparency from their leaders. So all of those things are true for Gen Z just as much as they were for previous generations.

And so it’s not like employers need to completely start from scratch and design an entirely new strategy. But beyond that, I would say any time an employer is trying to think about how to adapt their strategy for parts of their workforce or for a new workforce, it’s important just to listen to try to figure out what employees actually want. Because even though maybe Gen Z in general cares about XYZ, but at your company, that might not be the case.

People that you hire at your company might have different preferences, might have different problems that they may face. I think it’s always important to do that kind of specialized unique research for your workforce as a company to get a sense of what people care about.

Jill Finlayson: I love that. Really understanding your particular workforce. You did mention Gen Z cares about mental health. What are you seeing happening to wages and benefits?

Daniel Zhao: So for benefits, we have seen a little bit of a mixed bag heading into 2024, where some companies are pulling back on the benefits that they offer because they’re concerned about budgets going into the new year, right? So the compensation budgets that companies have, especially as some of them are still fighting for the possibility of recession, those budgets are tighter. And that means that companies need to cut costs somewhere. And honestly, that means some benefits and perks are being cut.

At the same time, I think that we are going to see more experimentation with benefits in 2024. Again, because there are these tight budgets, you might see employers trying to figure out what perks or benefits they can offer at a lower cost but getting the same kind of benefit — pun not intended — to get the same benefit from employee retention and those sorts of measures. And so I think you are going to see companies experimenting with some of these benefits like mental health care or student loan repayment assistance.

Those are kind of popular ones that we hear about a lot. And at the same time, we’re probably going to see them pull back on some of the benefits that feel like they’re from more of a different era pre-COVID. So for example, offering like an on-site gym or even a gym membership might not necessarily be something that gets prioritized as much in the new year.

Jill Finlayson: Well, since you mentioned on-site, what are you seeing in terms of return to the office?

Daniel Zhao: Well, I think that this is another case where we are seeing the balance of power shifting back towards employers after a few years where the hot labor market really gave workers a lot more leverage. And as a result, companies are pushing harder on return to office. Now there’s always going to be a delicate balance you have to strike as an employer, right? Because you can’t just force people to come back in five days a week and expect no blowback.

There’s going to be a middle ground that employers are trying to walk here, where if they feel like they want workers back in the office in order to actually be productive and efficient, then they’re going to have to figure out a way to do that without stepping on people’s toes necessarily. And so invariably, that generally means a mix of carrots and sticks, right? That means there will have to be some penalties for people who aren’t complying with these new policies.

But at the same time, as a company, you’re going to want to offer reasons for people to actually come back to the office, whether that’s a free lunch or more events that help build connection with coworkers and with that community. So I think we’re going to see more experimentation from companies in how to actually get workers to come back to the office and want to come back to the office.

Jill Finlayson: I do see a lot more hybrid offerings, where we have three mandatory in-office days but two work-from-home days. Are you seeing that?

Daniel Zhao: So we are seeing that a lot of companies do still offer these hybrid options, especially for smaller companies. I think small to medium sized companies have a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more opportunity to experiment with the policies they have, whereas it seems like the larger companies are the ones that are more skeptical of remote work, more skeptical of the benefits that offers to them, and also less flexibility to say, oh, well, let’s just try this new policy and see how it works out. So I think for smaller companies, that’s really where you’re going to see continued experimentation with hybrid and remote as they try to figure out what the best policy is.

Jill Finlayson: Do you think we’re going to see fewer office buildings? Or are they going to downsize? Or are they going to change the layout to be used in a different way based on this now more flexible working?

Daniel Zhao: It’s a good question. I think we still haven’t really settled into what the new normal is for office design and utilization, right? So there are a lot of companies that are just kind of extending their real estate strategy that they had from before COVID, where they have an office. Everybody has assigned seats and that sort of thing. And then there are other companies that are experimenting with hot desking, where you don’t have an assigned desk and you just use the one that comes in.

And of course, over the last few years, we’ve seen a lot more companies trying to have days where everybody is required to come in so that you can get the maximum benefit of everybody being together at the same time. But also that’s pretty difficult to do for real estate perspective because it means on those other days, your office is properly empty, right? So I think we haven’t really figured out what the new normal is. There’s still a lot of experimentation going on, but I’m sure that in 2024, we’ll get a little bit closer to what that new normal is as companies figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Jill Finlayson: Yeah, I think part of this is you’re seeing a more flat structure out there. So can you talk a little bit about what’s happening to individual contributors, managers, middle managers, supervisors? Are we seeing their roles change given this new environment?

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, it’s interesting because I think that as we head into the new year, there’s a lot of pressure on middle managers, actually. So especially as we hear some companies extend this mantra of a year of efficiency, that often means that middle managers are targets for layoffs or cuts or restructuring as companies try to remove some of those middle management layers to hopefully, streamline operations and that sort of thing.

So certainly, for middle managers who are directly impacted by those layoffs, that is, of course, disruptive. But even for the ones who are left behind, those middle managers are the people who are implementing these directives coming from senior leadership, right? So if senior leadership is telling them, hey, you’ve got to get 10% more productivity and you’re going to have a smaller budget less resources, less staff, then it’s really middle managers who are going to be implementing those directives from leadership. And they’re really going to be feeling the squeeze from both sides, where they’re being asked to do more with less. And so I think as we head into 2024 that middle managers are going to be a group watch to see how they fare through the year.

Jill Finlayson: So despite what they may be doing, we actually to have a little more empathy for the middle manager?

Daniel Zhao: Well, I think anybody who has been a manager recognizes that sounds great at first, where you have more power and more ability to get what you want done. And then you realize once you’re there that actually it just means you have even more constraints. Because it feels like maybe you have more power, but you have more demands on your time, more constraints on how you can behave. So I think for middle managers, it’s probably going to be a tough year in 2024, unfortunately.

Jill Finlayson: I’m thinking about now. There are big companies, but there are also a lot of startups. What are you seeing with equity compensation? Like, in addition to your salary, you get a percentage of the company. Are we seeing more or less of that?

Daniel Zhao: Well, I think that as we head into the new year as companies figure out where they can save money amidst tight budgets and trying to conserve money as they potentially head towards a recession, there are still some companies who are forecasting that. I think one thing that companies will look at taking a second eye at is equity compensation. So we might see companies pull back on equity compensation because that is an area where workers don’t necessarily have a transparent sense of how much exactly that is worth, right?

So in economics, we often talk about this idea, the fancy term for it is downward nominal wage rigidity, which is basically a very fancy way of saying that people don’t like their pay to be cut. But that’s very easy to tell if your salary is being cut or if your hourly rate is being cut, but it’s not as easy to tell if your benefits are shrinking or if your equity compensation isn’t as large as what it might have been if you were joined a year earlier.

So think for these other parts of the compensation package, like benefits and perks or equity compensation or even things like remote work policies, which you can think of as compensation to some extent, I think this is where companies will target those cuts because they know that people hate having their base salary cut or their base pay rate cut. But they don’t necessarily have the same attention on these other parts of the compensation package.

Jill Finlayson: Given that information asymmetry and perhaps the lack of knowledge about equity, how would you advise people to get a better understanding of the value of equity and how to negotiate it?

Daniel Zhao: It’s a great question. So I think first things first. It’s important to have the information in order to make an informed decision. If you are unsure of how much exactly your equity compensation is worth, I think it’s always good to ask people on whether they think that’s fair or not. And so that might mean going to a resource like Glassdoor to see what other folks in a similar position or level are making in terms of equity compensation.

But it can also just mean asking people in your network, maybe your mentor or a friend who’s in a similar industry or similar occupation to see what seems fair to them. Because that information is really critical to help you figure out what your next step will be and whether you want to negotiate for work and how much leeway you have to negotiate for more.

Jill Finlayson: The other thing people are obviously really concerned about is AI and AI taking their job or changing their job. What are you seeing in terms of AI and the workforce?

Daniel Zhao: So I think it’s still pretty early in terms of seeing the impacts of AI on, say, job displacement. I think that’s what a lot of the fears are that is going to fully replace me or fully replace my job. I think it’s still too early to really see the impacts of that. But certainly, the developments in AI and the speed of those developments is very rapid. And I think we’re already seeing cases of companies and individuals experimenting with how to use AI in the workplace.

So it’s not just companies that are saying top-down like, hey, we want to invest in AI because we think this is the future, you also see a lot of individual workers actually using AI to figure out how they can make their processes more efficient, how they can make themselves get more done in a faster amount of time, right? So we’ve actually seen a pretty significant number of individual workers actually experimenting with AI.

And I think more broadly as we think about how AI and new technologies might affect people, this goes back to the conversation around automation that we’ve been having for decades, if not longer. And I think it’s important to recognize that AI and new technologies very rarely replace a whole job. Generally speaking, they replace a task, right? So for example, we’ve heard about the potential for like a robot maid for decades that can do everything that you need in the house, whether it’s cook or clean or vacuum or that sort of thing.

Well, we still don’t have a robot maid or a robot housekeeper. Instead, what we have is something like a Roomba, for example, which is really good at vacuuming. But it’s not really flexible enough to do the other aspects of housekeeping, right? And so individual tasks are possible to automate or easier to automate. But really, I think what humans do really well is they have a lot of flexibility. They have the ability to problem-solve in a way that designed robot or design technology can’t really have that level of flexibility. So ultimately, when we’re thinking about AI, I think there’s a lot of potential to change jobs. But we’re still too early to see a lot of displacement of jobs in the status quo.

Jill Finlayson: As we think about where they’re also encountering AI, it’s in the job application process, it’s in the screening. And so are you seeing people having problems with the algorithms and getting through?

Daniel Zhao: It’s an interesting question. So I think it’s a mixed bag, right? Like, employers are experimenting with AI and how to use it in the hiring process. But because it’s still pretty early stages, it’s not always clear what exactly that looks like or what kind of impact that has on job seekers, right? And I think actually, one aspect of this that employers can focus on if they actually want to do this in a way that job seekers feel comfortable with is to be transparent about what you’re doing behind the scenes, right?

So for example, if you’re using some kind of psychometric or test in order to screen candidates, then actually, taking the results of that test and giving feedback to the candidates, which you should be able to do in an automated manner since that’s the technology you’re using, giving that feedback to candidates and telling them, hey, we use this test as a screen, here are some pieces of feedback for you in the future, that can be a way to help people feel more comfortable with the use of these new technologies, these new screening tools.

But if you just reject people without giving them any context or even telling them that they’re rejected, that’s not a great experience, right? It’s not a great experience regardless of what technology you’re using. That would be terrible even if they’re still doing things by hand, right? So ultimately, I think as an employer, it’s important to invest in the candidate experience and to come from that place of, hey, we want to make sure that candidates are having a positive experience regardless of what the outcome of the interview is. Having that goal in mind is an essential North Star regardless of what technologies or what processes you’re using.

Jill Finlayson: Yeah, I love that focus on the applicant experience. I think that’s really key, and you’re probably seeing feedback on Glassdoor about how that experience is going.

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, so we do have interview reviews on Glassdoor. And we see what people are talking about or how they’re rating their companies. So for example, when companies offer these IQ tests or psychometric tests, employees actually really don’t like it or job seekers don’t like it. In fact, they’re actually more likely to turn down an offer if they had to go through one of these tests because they don’t have the context on why this relates to how they would do their job, right?

If you give somebody a skills test, then they understand why that is relevant to the actual work that they’re going to be doing. But if you give them some kind of IQ test, well, it almost feels kind of insulting, I think, to some candidates, where they don’t understand how it connects because you haven’t explained it to them as an employer. And it’s just not obvious how that connection might happen. So I think that’s one aspect of it. We’ve also seen, for example, that job seekers are much more likely to mention ghosting nowadays than they were relative to pre-COVID.

And I think some of that might be because the lingo is changing and people are more aware of this trend of ghosting. I think this has always been a problem, honestly, throughout the history of job search. But certainly, we’re seeing more people talk about it nowadays. And I think some of that could be because of the shift to remote interviewing and remote work, where there isn’t necessarily the same level of connection with the candidates. And I think also, again, from an employer perspective, you still have to be thinking about the experience.

Can’t really use remote interviewing or just being busy as an excuse not to give candidates some kind of feedback or some — even if it’s just like a quick response on what the outcome of their process was. So certainly, I think that investing in the experience is something that should be more top of mind for employers.

Jill Finlayson: Yeah, a couple specific follow-on to that. We hear about breaking the paper ceiling. Like, you don’t need to have a four-year degree. You could have certificate or competencies or skills and still get through. So are you seeing that? And then the related question to AI, is AI able to see the equivalent experience? Or is this just window treatment and they’re just saying, apply even if you don’t have all the skills, but then you don’t make it through the filter?

Daniel Zhao: Oh, that’s a good question. So I think that certificates and alternative pathways are definitely a hotter topic now than they were maybe a few years ago or even longer than that. And I think ultimately to some extent, it depends on how the economy is doing, right? So when the job market is very hot, then employers are more willing to invest in candidates who are coming from alternative pathways, or to offer on-the-job training in order to get folks up to speed even if they don’t have that work experience or that traditional background.

So unfortunately, that means on the flip side, when the economy is weaker that that can be a time when employers tend to pull back. And they might be more strict about offering or requiring rather a four-year degree for example, even if it isn’t strictly necessary for that job. I think that you are seeing more of a movement to remove unnecessary degree requirements or unnecessary requirements from job postings. But ultimately, it’s kind of up to employers to see how that actually plays out in the long run.

From an AI perspective, I think we’re still pretty early in terms of AI’s ability to really effectively match job seekers with job postings. It’s definitely been a difficult problem to solve and something that has been in the works much longer than this recent conversations about AI. Like, trying to find people to right recommendations or the right job matches is something that’s very, very difficult. And so it’s not just a question of figuring out whether a certificate is equivalent to some other experience or vice versa. There’s a lot that goes into figuring out whether somebody is a good match for the job. And it’s often quite difficult to tell just from a resume of the job description.

Jill Finlayson: And there are so many different jobs out there for people trying to figure out where their career should go. Can you say a little bit about which sectors are growing or shrinking, which roles are growing or shrinking?

Daniel Zhao: In 2023, the sectors that had the most job growth were health care, education, and government. And the story for each of them is a little bit different. So for government and education, that might be more of a rebound from earlier in the pandemic, where a lot of private sector industries were really growing very quickly and recovering very quickly and able to offer higher wages than in education or government. And so some of that rebound was just a little bit delayed for those sectors.

For health care on the other hand, health care is an industry where we expect demand for health care services to continue to grow. As the American population ages, there’s going to be more demand for health care. And as a result, the industry also tends to be pretty recession resilient. So you generally see jobs growth continue in health care even when the economy is down. COVID was a notable exception to that but of course, COVID had a very different impact on the health care industry than we would expect in a typical recession.

And so as people think about what industries might be good to go into the future, if you really are prioritizing job security, health care can be an industry to look at. And I think it’s also important to keep in mind that working in the health care industry doesn’t require being a healthcare provider, right? There are plenty of these half employers that need IT staff or administrative staff, right? These skills can be used in the healthcare industry even if you aren’t a nurse or a doctor.

Jill Finlayson: Another area Gen Z is very vocal on is sustainability and green tech. Are you seeing anything in climate tech?

Daniel Zhao: It’s interesting because I think it’s still pretty early to see specific focus on that from job seekers. I think there are certainly some job seekers who care a lot about it and go out and find those companies specifically. And in fact, that’s generally the advice I would give for job seekers. If you’re interested in a very specific space, oftentimes it is better to target that space specifically and find those companies that are hiring.

Find those folks in your network who might have an understanding of the sector and know what companies might be hiring, know what skills they’re looking for rather than just generally looking for jobs in a particular occupation and hoping that they are in that industry. So think that whenever you have that very specific focus that you kind of have to change your job search strategy to be very targeted and very research-driven and as a result.

Jill Finlayson: Glassdoor is focused on feedback about companies. What are you seeing for self-employed or can you not see that info?

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, we don’t necessarily see much in our data about self-employed individuals or new businesses. But one thing we do know from government data is that there has actually been a pretty significant surge in entrepreneurship since COVID. The level of new business applications, for example, is through the roof. It shot up at the start of COVID and has actually stayed pretty consistently high since then. I think there was some concern maybe that at the start it was mostly people maybe setting up like Etsy shops or that sort of thing in the middle of COVID. And those wouldn’t necessarily be sustainable.

But we continue to see business applications, new business applications are still very high. And that is a very encouraging sign for the American economy. Because more new businesses means more dynamism. It means more opportunity for new ideas to reach the market and potentially disrupt some of these industries that are dominated by older players. So certainly, I think the state of affairs for entrepreneurship is potentially very exciting, especially if we’re able to bypass a potential recession, if we’re able to get to a soft landing, then hopefully this can be a enduring trend moving forward.

Jill Finlayson: January is when people make a lot of New Year’s resolutions. Do you see a lot of people changing jobs in the first quarter? Or are they sitting still and holding on to the job that they have?

Daniel Zhao: So I’d say, generally speaking, January is the most active month for job search through the year. So it actually tends to be around Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tends to be around the peak for job search through the year as folks form those New Year’s resolutions and get started on the job search. And then it kind of tapers through the rest of the year. And in particular, in November and December during the holidays, that tends to be the slowest time. So you kind of see a very natural bounce in January.

That being said, I think this year, we are still probably going to see that similar pattern. But at the same time, I think folks are a little bit more hesitant this year to switch jobs. There’s more of an emphasis on job security. We’ve seen people quit their jobs a little bit less often in recent months than we have in last year or the year prior. And so I think folks are hunkering down a little bit. But at the same time, some of these seasonal trends are seasonal. They do happen every year. So do expect that we are going to see job switching in the first quarter of the year, but it might be a little bit more subdued.

Jill Finlayson: So if you’re gearing up for a job change, how can Glassdoor help you understand the company culture at these different organizations?

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, I think Glassdoor can really help you understand what it’s like to work at that company, whether that means looking at the reviews and ratings that we have on Glassdoor in order to get a better sense of what different aspects of working there are like, whether that’s culture, whether that’s how senior leadership behaves. That level of information is really interesting and helpful for job seekers.

And then also we have new community goals which allow folks to interact with other job seekers or other industry professionals to really figure out what it’s like behind the scenes, whether at that company or just in general in their industry to get advice from folks to really understand from the people who know best what it’s like to work at a company.

Jill Finlayson: How do the employers feel about Glassdoor? And how is this helping them?

Daniel Zhao: I think employers understand that in today’s world, there’s a lot more information out there about them. And you can’t really put the genie back in the bottle on that, right? So that information is out there and that puts a lot more pressure on employers to actually treat their employees well, to invest in culture, and to make sure that their employees are happy. And so I think that it’s a positive trend, right? This is absolutely something that employees should be happy for, that employers are investing more into culture and employee engagement.

And it also means for employers that it’s more important than ever to invest in employer brand. So that’s not just walking the walk. It is actually talking the talk as well. As an employer, if you’re doing everything right, you also want to make sure that folks know and you should brag about that, right? I think the nice thing about this increased level of transparency is you can see both sides of the equation.

Jill Finlayson: If there is an employer who’s really invested in diversity, equity, and inclusion, how can people find out if they are in fact walking the walk versus just putting out an idea?

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, so I think there are a few different avenues you can take this, right? So on Glassdoor, for example, do have ratings for diversity and inclusion, how people feel about diversity inclusion at a company. And then we also have ratings split out by demographics. So you might see at a company that women and men, for example, rate a company differently. And that can be informative as well.

Beyond that also, it’s good to look at other resources that might be publicly available. So if a company publishes an annual diversity transparency report, that can be something to take a look at to see not only what their workforce looks like behind the scenes, but also how they talk about it, how they say what they prioritize, and whether or not they put that report out at all I think says a lot about a company. So that level of research, I think, is definitely something helpful for folks who really care about diversity inclusion and want to find a company that meets those requirements.

Jill Finlayson: I think that’s really valuable because as you know, employee experience is different for every employee. And for certain people, a company might be very welcoming but for others, it may not be. And so being able to get at that data is super helpful.

Daniel Zhao: Yeah, absolutely.

Jill Finlayson: So when we talk about salary and salary transparency, there’s been a great move toward leveling that playing field and having more states say, you need to share the range. What are you seeing in terms of salary transparency?

Daniel Zhao: So we absolutely have seen more companies sharing these salary ranges as a result of these new transparency laws. And I mean, that shouldn’t be a surprise that companies are complying with new laws, right? And I think that it’s still early to say what the impact of it is. But we are seeing some spillover effects where companies that are hiring in states that don’t have these laws are a little bit more willing to share these pay ranges.

And I think ultimately, this is good. It just helps people make a more informed decision about what jobs are a good fit for them and are going to pay them what they are worth, right? And ultimately, for employers too, I think that’s actually beneficial because it means that you don’t need to go through the whole interview process and get to the end and then realize that you’re too far apart with the candidate in terms of the pay that you’re willing to offer and waste all that time for both sides, right?

So I think that there are definitely opportunities for employers and job seekers alike with pay transparency. And ultimately, I’m quite optimistic. I think we’ve seen a pretty significant increase in transparency. And I actually anticipate that even in other states where these laws aren’t on the books, we’re going to continue to see more companies move towards pay transparency.

Jill Finlayson: Yeah, a couple follow-on. If people are working in different parts of the country, I’m seeing different prices or salaries depending on where they live. How is that impacting employee satisfaction? Or are there concerns about where they live? Or is this great because it gives them flexibility for remote work?

Daniel Zhao: It’s a great question. So I think everybody feels differently about this. There are some people who feel like, oh, well, my company should pay everybody the same regardless of where I live. But there are other individuals who feel like, hey, if I live in a higher-cost-of-living area, my company should pay me more. So there isn’t really a universal response. I think that they’re always going to be folks who are upset about policies that change, for example.

And so there’s an element of making sure that those communications are done properly from an employer perspective. But I don’t think that we are seeing necessarily a strong trend one way or the other in terms of how employees feel about them. I will say, generally speaking, it is much more common for employers to adjust pay by geography rather than paying one uniform rate across the country. It’s just more common to do geographic-based adjustments.

And from an economists point of view, that tends to be more common because employers benchmark pay by cost of labor, not by cost of living. So if the demand for workers in a given area exceeds the supply, then the cost of labor is going to be higher. And in order to hire somebody in that area, that means that the company has to pay more. And it works in the other direction, too. So that’s how employers are generally thinking about how to set these pay ranges.

Jill Finlayson: Related to this, are you seeing more globalization of the workforce? Because I’m seeing a lot of computer science, engineering jobs being listed in Estonia, in India. Are we seeing a much more global workforce? It was happening before COVID, but what are we seeing now?

Daniel Zhao: So I do think that with advances in remote work and as the global population gets more educated, you do see more companies experimenting with hiring overseas and having remote workers all over the globe. That being said, there are still limitations to that trend, right? It’s not just about cost for employers. You also want to make sure that the folks that you’re working with are attuned with the products that they’re developing, for example.

So having that cultural context can be really important. Having the cultural context for other people in the workplace can also dictate whether a company wants to hire overseas or in the US. And then of course, quite simply, there’s the time zone difference, right? which for some companies is more of a problem than others. So I don’t think we’re moving towards a world where we have a truly global workforce, where every job is available to everybody around the globe. But we definitely are seeing more companies experiment with putting some of their remote jobs or making some of their remote jobs available overseas.

Jill Finlayson: Those time zone issues are no joke. And they actually have equity issues as well because if you’re asking an employee to work during dinner time, that can be more difficult for women in other countries who have to have other family obligations around it. So I’m glad to hear you bring that up. What should I have asked you that I haven’t asked you about? What should we be talking about?

Daniel Zhao: Well, maybe one thing to bring up is that we’ve recently started tracking what we call the Glassdoor employee competence index. So this is a measure of how employees feel about the business outlook for their employers. And so this is a stat that I think is nice because it gives us a different view of how the economy is doing than, say, consumer confidence or CEO confidence. It’s focusing on employees and giving us a picture of the economy from the people who are actually doing the work at these companies, right?

And when we look at those numbers, unfortunately, they are quite poor to start the year. So we got off to a shaky start to 2024. The share of employees who have a positive business outlook for their employers is actually at the lowest level that it’s been since we started tracking this in 2016. So it’s down to 45.6%. And I think that this is in part due to employees seeing the headlines around layoffs and hiring freezes.

And really even at companies that haven’t undergone those measures, they see those headlines, they see what is happening in their industry and are feeling pretty negative about how the economy is doing right now. And this kind of goes to some of the debates that economists have been having recently about the divergence in hard quantitative data and soft sentiment-based data. And overall, what we’re seeing is that employees are really concerned about job security as we head into the year.

Jill Finlayson: And the new year is an election year. What are you seeing as a potential impact from elections?

Daniel Zhao: Well, the election year means that we’re going to be talking a lot about the election through all of 2024. And I don’t think we’re necessarily going to see much direct impact on the job market as a result of that. But within a workplace, it means that there are going to be more uncomfortable conversations about politics in a way that we haven’t necessarily had in the past. And I think that that’s a growing trend as more employees want their employers to take a stance on social issues which often extends into political issues.

So for employees, there definitely needs to be a little bit of introspection on how you want to address political conversations in the workplace. And then for employers as well, I think it’s important for them to recognize that just because they tell people like, hey, don’t talk about this in the workplace, that’s not really a strategy. That’s not really something that’s feasible. So I think it’s important for employers to think about how they want to handle these kinds of conversations in the workplace and to have a dedicated strategy around this.

Jill Finlayson: So to wrap up, we’ve talked a lot about trends. What are your predictions for 2024? And to steal from the fashion industry, what’s in and what’s out?

Daniel Zhao: Well, so I think as we head into 2024, I think there’s increasing optimism about the potential for a soft landing, where inflation will come down but the job market will remain resilient. I think that is not a foregone conclusion. There are some very real risks here because the job market is much slower and hiring has come down quite a bit. But I think we have some room for a little bit of optimism as we head into the year.

I do think that because things are slower, what is in is doing your research as a job seeker, as an employee. Doing your research to figure out what kind of companies you want to work for, what kind of industries are hiring right now. Much more important to do that now than it has been in the past. And certainly, compared to the last few years where it was a lot easier to find jobs, doing your research is what’s in. That’s the best piece of advice I think could give to job seekers this year.

Jill Finlayson: Thank you, Daniel, for highlighting the importance of research. And if people want to learn more about job trends, where can they find more of your research?

Daniel Zhao: To read more about our research, you can find us at to find all of the work that the Glassdoor Economic Research team does.

Jill Finlayson: Thanks so much. And with that, I hope you enjoyed this latest in a long series of podcasts that we’ll be sending your way every month. Please share with friends and colleagues who may be interested in taking this Future of Work journey with us. And make sure to check out to find a variety of courses to help you thrive in this new working landscape. And to see what’s coming up at EDGE in Tech, go ahead and visit

The Future of Work is hosted by Jill Finlayson, produced by Sarah Benzuly, and edited by Matt DiPietro.



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