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Balancing economic impact with empathy for Middle East companies post COVID-19

Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends reveals Middle East businesses are transforming, however, more emphasis on employee experience is needed to ensure sustainable growth

43% of organizations are redesigning to become more people-centric, 77% of employees identified long-term financial planning and flexible savings or investment options as a priority 76% of business executives want to focus more on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals

According to a recent study by Mercer, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the way organizations operate, 98% of Middle East companies are embarking on transformations and the same proportion of executives are planning organizational redesign this year. 

The same study highlights that while 43% of organizations are redesigning to become more people-centric, many businesses are undermining the importance of the employee experience throughout this transformation. This is despite research that has proven energized employees are more likely to thrive and remain with an employer, less likely to report fear of burn-out and more confident in embracing the reskilling agenda. Although two in three employees reported being at risk of burnout this year and 77% of employees identified long-term financial planning and flexible savings or investment options as a priority, only 33% of employers provide financial education for workers and 31% offer mental health First Aid training. Furthermore, only 29% of employers offer discounts on external activities and 15% have analytics to identify the underlying causes of pay inequity. 

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Commenting on the study results, Nuno Gomes, Head of Careers at Mercer MENAT, said, “Businesses have a financial responsibility to their stakeholders, but at the same time, they are also responsible for the financial wellbeing and safety of their employees. Furthermore, business performance greatly depends on workforce wellbeing. Decisions that impact employees must therefore always take into consideration both the economic and personal impacts. This is even more crucial now as we face the uncertainty of a global pandemic. To create a sustainable business model, organizations, especially HR leaders, must transform to incorporate a robust financial model that is complemented by an empathetic mindset enabling them to plan for the future.”

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According to Mercer’s report, Middle East businesses are rapidly transforming to address future of work trends. The survey results find that 76% of business executives want to focus more on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals in order to achieve long-term sustainable growth. Regional businesses are also recognizing the need to quickly adapt to new market realities with almost all embarking on business transformations. 86% of companies say flexible working is a focus for them in 2020 which is in line with employee expectations. However, although reskilling is key to building capability, 39% employers claim they do not have enough time for training and only 39% of HR leaders are investing in workforce learning and reskilling as part of their strategy to prepare for the future of work while 32% do not know what skills their workforce has today.

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Advances in machine learning also continue to permeate across industries with the use of predictive analytics nearly quadrupling in five years from 10% in 2016 to 39% today globally. In the Middle East, 51% are currently using AI to identify when critical talent is likely to retire, 57% can understand why one team is performing better than another and 49% are using pulse surveys. Employees are also optimistic about the impact of AI with 67% expecting positive changes to their workload. 

Furthermore, the research by Mercer also highlights a tightened career pipeline with 85% of experienced workers say they plan to work past retirement age and 55% of Gen Xers say opportunities to advance are limited because of longevity in the workplace.

To download the report, visit here.