Economic uncertainty a concern for workplace development
Economic uncertainty is now a real problem for organizations around the world as they look toward 2023. Be it large or small enterprises, there are growing concerns about the outlook of the economy next year, with many already looking to ways they can best reduce their expenses without affecting productivity.
True enough, the last few months have already witnessed thousands of employees being laid off by organizations that have not been reporting heavy losses. Most of these companies are already preparing for the new year as the economic uncertainty could have a long-term impact on their business operations.
During this period of economic uncertainty, the flexibility and freedoms introduced during the pandemic that employees benefited from are now at risk. New global C-level research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, finds that more than two-thirds (68%) of leaders say the current climate could threaten flexible working, while other important areas of working life such as learning and development (74%) and employee wellbeing (75%) are likely to be affected too.
In fact, over a third are looking to reduce employee learning and development budgets and opportunities, as well as flexible working and hybrid working roles. In addition, 55% of business leaders in Asia Pacific (Australia, India, Japan and Singapore) prefer employees to work more frequently from the office, as opposed to working from home. In spite of this, 68% felt that hybrid working is here to stay for the longer term.
This comes as new analysis of remote job postings on LinkedIn shows that remote roles are in decline, although the applications to those roles outstrip supply. As of September 2022, in countries like Australia, India and Singapore, remote roles receive more applications compared to the remote jobs that are available.
Employer and employee disconnect
LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report, which studied 2,900+ C-level executives from large organizations across the world, highlights a growing disconnect between what professionals want and what employers are now offering, with the balance of power shifting back to employers as hiring slows. The study also revealed that across APAC, top priorities jobseekers value beyond compensation are advancement, flexibility, and upskilling. In terms of advancement and upskilling, the report finds that employees want growth and transformation in their careers. Those who make an internal move are more likely to stay at their organization longer than those who stay in the same role.
“We can’t go back. Companies that pull back on flexible working, 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 business can’t afford to take, particularly at a time when people are already being weighed down by other worries such as the higher cost of living,” commented Rohit Kalsy, LinkedIn’s Head of Emerging Markets, Southeast Asia and Country Manager, Malaysia.
For Kalsy, flexibility and a focus on skills are crucial to the long-term survival of businesses. He explained that these have traditionally been the first to go when times get tough, but they are important to building diverse and resilient businesses that can adapt to a fast-changing world. Kalsy added that forward-thinking organizations that invest in their people during these times will be the ones that outperform competitors and come out stronger.
Leading through uncertainty
As companies navigate uncertainty, one area of agreement is clear – problem-solving is critical. It’s the top soft-skill APAC leaders identified as necessary to get through this time, followed by communication, creative thinking, and transparency. In fact, soft skills of problem-solving, communication, and strategy were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally on LinkedIn over the last three months. Rather than leaving their teams in the dark about the tough decisions ahead, leaders need to build bridges with their employees and bring them on the journey with them.
To get through the uncertainty ahead, LinkedIn advises leaders to:
- Take an adaptive leadership approach – Leaders must be transparent about the current reality and adapt to what lies ahead, whilst providing employees with clarity on short-term business priorities. They should see this period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust, which will stand them in good stead when the cycle ends.
- Maintain workforce connection and trust – Today just 44% of employers in APAC encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees. By helping employees to build connections with their colleagues, employers can energize their teams and strengthen their company culture. Furthermore, returning to command and control styles of leadership and dictating that employees must be in the office will quickly erode trust.
- Focus on skills – The skill sets needed for jobs has changed by around 25% since 2015 and this number is expected to double by 2027. Skills sets have changed in Malaysia by 27% on average since 2015, with the pace of change accelerating during the pandemic. By understanding the skills your employees have today, and the skills your company needs in the future, companies can hire or redeploy talent into growth areas.
In Malaysia, there are companies which are implementing strategies to navigate uncertainty such as investing in L&D initiatives to equip employees with relevant skills. This upskilling effort helps to create an adaptable, committed and engaged workforce.
For example, the recent collaboration between the Human Resource Development Corporation (HRD Corp, Malaysia’s talent development agency under the Ministry of Human Resources) and LinkedIn aims to accelerate Malaysia’s move towards a skills-based economy by helping their employees upskill and reskill with online training through LinkedIn Learning.
With the economic uncertainty ahead comes opportunity. Resilience is critical to making it through hard times as business leaders face decisions on cost-cutting and human resources. To help leaders navigate it and lead to a new future of work, LinkedIn has made a number of LinkedIn Learning courses available for free. LinkedIn has also published its Global Talent Trends report which provides leaders with insight into how labor market trends are affecting employees and workplaces.
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