Big shift expected in the workplace in South Africa

 ·29 May 2022

Companies globally are grappling with a skills shortage driven by various factors from the rapid adoption of new technologies, such as AI and automation, to changing employee needs, says Lyndy van den Barselaar, managing director at ManpowerGroup SA, a global workforce solutions company.

Based on the changing business landscape, the traditional workforce is shifting with McKinsey stating that by 2030 there could be a 20% increase in demand for managers, technology specialists and health professionals while manual roles are likely to decline as steeply.

Further, two-thirds of the workforce could be under-skilled in basic digital skills, leadership, communication and decision making, said van den Barselaar.

While businesses face a shortage of skilled workers, on the other end of the spectrum, countries are facing record numbers of unemployment which is supported by the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage survey which found that 69% of companies across the globe have reported a talent shortage, the employment expert said.

“To overcome this challenge, companies need to take a different approach and create opportunities to fill employment gaps and prepare for the changes that lie ahead.”

Creating the talent you need from the inside

With more than half of all workers (58%) needing new skills to get their jobs done, the skills revolution is in full force, said the ManpowerGroup executive.

“Reskilling and upskilling will become non-negotiable for individuals and organisations as roles continue to require more skills than before, with both technology and human capabilities most in demand.

“As the need for soft skills, including adaptability, communication, teamwork, and more take on increased importance, employers will need to ensure their people are constantly being provided opportunities to improve their skillsets.”

This is supported by McKinsey, which found that over half of executives believe that developing the skills of their existing workforce is the most useful way to address the skills gap. At the same time, 89% of workers want more learning opportunities such as remote skills development and career coaching.

“By helping employees to upskill and grow within an organisation, companies create the workforce agility needed to thrive in an increasingly digital world,” said van den Barselaar.

Creating a brand that employees want to work for

The post-pandemic workforce also has clearly defined demands for current and prospective employers. “To stand out in a competitive market that is seeking skills in a shrinking talent pool, companies need to position themselves differently to be viewed as an employer of choice amongst those looking for a career path, both within and outside of the organisation.”

Van den Barselaar said that the heightened focus on reshaping company culture to build trust, retain remote teams and energise the employee experience will need an environment that brings a sense of purpose and wellbeing plus empathetic leadership for a digital world.

“In this era of talent scarcity, the best employers will realise first-hand that without investing in an evolving company culture, they will struggle to execute their strategy and need to prepare to lose talent to companies that will.”

Creating a culture focused on the employee experience

Companies that manage their brand reputation and regard employees’ needs will find it easier to attract and retain talent. As workers go back to a new normal, there is an opportunity for organisations to shape up their employer brands to focus on what today’s workers want: a better employee experience.

The employee experience is valuable in solidifying a company’s reputation as an employer and is directly dependent on the employee value proposition, said Van den Barselaar. “When employees know what the employer’s expectations are and are rewarded accordingly, they are more likely to view the organisation favourably and want to remain with or join the company.

“Today’s companies need to prepare for the workplace of the future by upskilling employees and adapting to meet the needs of the employee of the future.

“This is not the first time that the workplace has had to shift to adapt to the needs of its environment, and it won’t be the last time, but those companies that make the shift now, will reap the benefits of the changing business landscape today while preparing for the workplace of tomorrow.”

Read: Big hiring drive expected in South Africa in the coming months

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