In 2020, the employees of the world were faced with a shake-up of kind they could never imagine nor foresee: the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of jobs were lost, and those that kept their positions were forced to quickly adjust to new working configurations. From working remotely to utilizing technology more in their day-to-day, employees were left with little choice if they wanted to keep their jobs.
Amid the options available to them, many looked to reskilling and upskilling for some respite: if they could update their skillset to meet the demands of this rapidly changing world, they would be more likely to remain in employment.
In the UAE, this situation was no different. In fact, a new study by international Big Four auditing firm KPMG shows that the UAE workforce may continue to see significant changes over the next one to two years.
The report, dubbed The Future of HR in the New Reality, revealed that nearly a quarter (23%) of employees in the country may continue to work remotely, while more than a quarter (28%) will likely require upskilling. The report is based on the perspectives of local human resources (HR) executives on preparing their organizations and HR functions for the future.
Nearly every organization is prioritizing people, as they grapple with pre-existing and new challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Although nearly all (89%) of HR professionals agreed that the function played a leading role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be time for HR to reinvent itself. For example, considering rapid changes, HR professionals may take a different approach to measuring and improving productivity and workforce-related challenges to drive competitive advantage over the medium-to-long term, rather than focusing on short-term issues.
Marketa Simkova, Partner, Head of People & Change at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “As HR leaders adapt to an unpredictable future, their focus tends to be on short-term firefighting to cope with immediate challenges. It is crucial to play the long game in order to thrive in the new reality. To do so, HR leaders may create a seamless, tech-enabled employee experience in a remote work environment, take ownership of the employee rebuilding and reskilling journey, and embrace analytics and data science to prove the impact of the HR function.”
Perceptions of HRFrom facilitating the transition to remote working, to implementing and communicating health measures in the workplace, HR has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, KPMG notes. While most business leaders and employees view the function’s response to the crisis in a favorable way, some decision makers believe HR needs to be bolder and prove its strategic worth.
The KPMG survey shows that 62% of HR executives believe the function needs to completely reimagine and transform itself to respond more effectively to future disruption. Half (50%) of HR professionals agree that the function is considered to be an “administrator” rather than a “value driver.” Eighty-six percent of HR executives believe the function needs to rethink productivity and performance measures in light of the shift to remote working.
As the report underscores, HR’s role should be that of a workforce architect in the new normal — identifying the right workforce mix, retraining leaders for remote environments, driving tech-focused programs and embracing digital learning solutions. Challenging and exciting times lie ahead, as HR professionals reinvent to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced and unpredictable business environment. A modernized approach to understanding and planning for the future needs of the workforce is quintessential to driving value for employees and the business.
You can find the full report here.