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Anne Rutledge – Executive Director Resourgenix Talent Solutions*
As we approach the end of 2023, we reflect on the lessons learned and the areas that need improvement in the workplace. We recognise that the world of work has changed dramatically since the pandemic. We, as the workforce, were thrust into a remote working environment during the pandemic and this experience has shaped our views on how work can be done.
Technology has progressed and offered some benefits that have enhanced our work-life balance, but at the same time it has also contributed to the isolation of the workforce. The pandemic also shifted the balance of power to the workers and with this we have seen an increase in demands from the workforce for better working conditions, happiness, and well-being at work. Looking forward to 2024, we will see another shift with some key trends emerging and continuing from this year.
- Remote work, hybrid, back to office?
Despite the preference of the workforce to work from home, many companies are implementing or have already enforced a return to the office. Hybrid models that were adopted by many are now being challenged as they seem to create confusion among the workforce and lack in activities that make businesses work well – such as mentorship, face-to-face interaction, and a proper work ethic. The return to office drive is driven by the following:
- To encourage the workforce to collaborate more in person, fostering creativity and team problem solving.
- In South Africa, the added complexity of load shedding and the impact on having stable connectivity has increased the number of workers coming into the office.
- People are social and not being able to interact with colleagues for an extended period has created feelings of isolation and loneliness. Many companies have opted to have office space available that allows for more face-to-face meetings, team initiatives as well as encouraging more engagement.
The best work arrangements depend on each company’s needs, and there is no clear consensus on which arrangement – remote, hybrid or return to office is best. The best outcomes for many are where there is flexibility that allows for individuals to be productive and still maintain a work-life balance.
In 2024, we will see many companies and employees opting for the hybrid working arrangements, combining the collaborative benefits of face-to-face co-working with the flexibility of remote working.
- Skills-based hiring
Organisations that have embraced the upskilling and reskilling mindset have benefited from being able to move talent internally to assist with their critical projects and to fill those key vacancies. This journey has led them to further understand the skills available in their workforce and to build a skills inventory that has prepared them for 2024. The next step in this process is to adopt a skill based hiring methodology.
What does this mean?
Employers have traditionally relied on hiring according to years of experience and/or education, which for them indicated if a candidate could perform the job. This however created unnecessary job requirements that excluded qualified candidates for arbitrary reasons such as they lacked a qualification but had hands on experience.
Skills-based hiring is gaining popularity as it is a way to find qualified candidates with the necessary skills and potential to succeed in the role. This type of hiring has also helped companies in expanding their talent pool which in a time where there is a skills shortage, has greatly helped companies in filling vacancies that have been vacant for a long time. 2024 will allow for more companies who have tapped into their skills inventory to be able to match skills to roles faster and allow for greater employee engagement.
- Soft skills will become more important in today’s work environment and career progression.
According to the World Economic Forum, employers are looking for workers who have certain skills that can help them adapt to the changing demands of work and business. These skills are not only technical, but also emotional and social. Workers who have these skills and can apply them in their daily tasks are more likely to excel in the workforce in 2024.
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Complex problem-solving with reasoning and ideation.
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Creativity, originality, and initiative
- Leadership and social influence
- Technology use, monitoring, and control
- Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
- Emotional intelligence
- Service orientation
- Persuasion and negotiation
As technology and AI advance and disrupt more sectors of work and business, soft skills bring a human touch and empathy that are lacking in machines and algorithms.
- The workforce demographics.
Workplaces must deal with having different generations working together. Over the past 2 years, we have seen an emergence of Gen-Z into the workforce, causing another shift in the dynamics of the workplace.
Gen-Z has grown up with the digital and online world. They spend a lot of time on social media and have a different perspective and way of interacting with other generations. These young adults are proficient in various technologies, including artificial intelligence. Managers who belong to a different generation must change and adapt how they train and develop these employees to get the best out of them.
Gen-Z values learning and training and expects their employers to provide mentorship. Gen-Z also appreciates the social connections of a workplace, but they also want to have the opportunity to work more autonomously.
Companies in 2024 will revise their hiring and retention strategies to attract and retain this generation as they become the future of the workplace.
- Preparing for what’s ahead.
The workplace landscape will likely change in 2024. Although no one knows exactly what will happen, the above trends will likely influence the year ahead and employers who plan for these will be ready for success.
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