Losing Flexibility

The current economy is causing leaders to employ cost-saving tactics that do not directly align with the flexible working models from the pandemic. 

By Zee Johnson 

Not long ago, much of the world relied primarily on flexible and remote work models. Now, with the world returning to a new normal, some employers fear that the great strides they made during the pandemic are at risk of retracting. 

LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report 2022 found that the current economy is forcing business leaders to make difficult decisions that threaten recent progress around things like flexibility, employee well-being and skills development. In fact, C-level UAE leaders have already witnessed slowed progress in skills development (93%), employee well-being (89%), and flexible work (76%). 

And whilst 77% of UAE leaders believe flexible work models will remain for at least the next five years, over 75% also believe that economic uncertainty could be lessen flexibility as employees may be forced back into the office.  

Josh Graff, managing director, EMEA and LATAM, at LinkedIn, fears that deferred growth could affect businesses in more ways than one. We can’t go back,” he says. “Companies that pull back on flexible working and learning and development risk demotivating their workforce and pushing people to competitors that offer more attractive options. Motivated employees are key to gaining a competitive advantage and damaging that is a risk businesses can’t afford to take.” Graff also notes that flexibility and a focus on skills is crucial to the long-term survival of businesses. 

As of now, 44% of survey executives are planning to reduce remote and flexible working roles and are also on track to reducing investments in financial support for employees as well as professional development programmes. Instead, they are priotising financial readiness (51%). 

To work through such times, the survey offers three approaches. 

  • Adapt. Leaders must be agile to what the future holds whilst also providing employees with clear direction for current business goals. Viewing this current period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust will put organisations in a good place when the cycle ends.  
  • Maintain Connection. The survey showed that just 44% of employers foster a collaborative environment. By helping employees build meaningful connections and trust with colleagues, leaders are on path to heightening engagement and strengthening company culture.  
  • Hone in on skills. Since 2015, the skill sets needed for jobs has changed by about 25% and that’s expected to double within the next five years. Leaders should be well aware of the skills of current employees and the skills they’ll need to reach future goals. This will put ease into talent acquisition and retention efforts. 
Tags: EMEA News, EMEA November 2022, talent management

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