Guiding Principles for Whatever 2024 Brings
By Mike Cioffi
It was called the holiday season for a reason. From a business standpoint, it was a great time to take a break from the day-to-day work routine and re-center ourselves in what’s important, not only for our companies’ bottom lines, but also for our professional fulfillment and that of our employees.
In 2024 we face many unknowns. Is a recession coming, or a soft landing? Will the job market finally loosen, or remain tight? With so much uncertainty, what we need are principles that can guide us regardless of what this year brings. For me, one of the most important principles is gratitude. If you sometimes feel frustrated in your job, for instance, think about the saying “I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” Not everyone has a job to be frustrated with, and some are even unable to work.
Generosity is another foundational principle that breeds success in diverse circumstances. This year let’s make a resolution to ensure that our employees know their efforts are appreciated. Financial rewards and personal kudos are one way to do that. Another is by creating a company culture that provides an exciting and fun place to work. Though it’s arguably fallen off in recent years, Southwest Airlines’ “people come first” focus made it one of the most envied cultures in corporate America for years. It got employees excited about their jobs and was a significant selling point for potential new hires.
But that doesn’t mean you should try to copy it. A culture must be authentic to work, it must be your own, and what is a good fit at one business may not be at another. I have some specific principles I focus my firm’s culture on, but before sharing them let’s take a quick look at the latest economic and jobs data.
The Good, the Bad, and the Uncertain
The U.S. economy added 199,000 new jobs in November, with the unemployment rate declining to 3.7%. Unemployment has now been below 4% for twenty-two months, which the Associated Press says has not happened since the 1960s. And the consumer price index for urban consumers registered only a 0.1% increase in November. For the last twelve months, U.S. inflation stands at 3.1%, much better than the 7.1% of a year ago. Because of this, expectations are shifting from further interest rate increases in 2024 to possible rate decreases, although Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has labeled such talk “premature.”
In the tire and rubber industry, the data is less rosy. Total employment in US rubber product manufacturing and tire manufacturing are both in the midst of four-month slides, standing at 133,500 and 58,000, respectively, as of October 2023, the latest data available. In October 2022 these numbers stood at 138,700 and 58,400. So, as we have been seeing for months, there is a little good data, a little bad data, and a lot of uncertainty.
Unifying Principles are a Two-Edged Sword
In an age when many employees—remote and otherwise—feel less than fully connected to their workplace, fostering a unifying company culture is more important than ever. But at most firms, diversity is growing, and it takes work to find those foundational principles everyone can unite around. At my firm, I strive to create an environment in which partnership, trust, and collaboration permeate everything we do. In practice, that means understanding our clients’ needs, maintaining open communication, keeping everything transparent, and delivering on promises. These same principles work externally with our clients, and internally among ourselves.
A strong company culture is a two-edged sword. It helps your firm do the kind of work that builds enduring partnerships with clients while also attracting quality job candidates who are likely to be a great fit in today’s competitive landscape for talent. With the new year just beginning, it’s time to figure out how to make this two-edged sword work for you.
Mike Cioffi is the founder of Tire Talent, a boutique recruiting agency dedicated to our industry. You can reach him directly: email@example.com if you have any questions about this article.