Priorities For UAE HR Professionals: Digitization, Talent, And The Future Of Work Form A Three-Part Plan Leaders Should Pursue

As the post-pandemic era approaches and workplace environments undergo rapid change, HR leaders now have a clear set of objectives on which to concentrate their efforts, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA). The report, titled Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities, identifies digitization, talent, and the future of work as the immediate priorities for HR executives, a central finding that applies to the UAE market.

While BCG and WFPMA have collaborated on similar studies since 2008, this latest analysis represents the most comprehensive between the two parties to date. The authors surveyed 106 UAE respondents – 64 percent of which currently hold HR positions –with 57 holding managerial or senior managerial positions at leading companies and startups nationwide. While the majority of respondents are based in energy and the public sectors, the total number of industries represented via the respondents was nine, including business services, consumer, technology, health, finance, media, and non-profit. 

“No matter the vertical in which they operate, every company today shares a common goal – building a workforce and workplace capable of thriving well into the future,” said Dr.Christopher Daniel, Managing Director and Partner, BCG Middle East: “To create and capture such success, organizational strategies must be implemented without delay, frameworks that consider different aspects and deliver on internal priorities. Our results established alongside WFPMA will support HR executives and leaders as they attempt to translate this vision to reality, providing critical guidance during every development phase in due course.”

Three Organizational Imperatives

Creating People Advantage 2021: The Future of People Management Priorities ranks 32 people management topics on two dimensions: the future importance of each topic, and companies’ current capabilities for addressing each one. By assessing these dimensions in tandem, the authors were subsequently able to highlight three areas where the need for innovative action is essential:

  • Digitization, including the implementation and continuous use of new technologies such as people analytics, cloud-based applications, AI, and robotics.
  • Talent, comprising strategic workforce planning, leadership development, upskilling and reskilling, and working with an ecosystem of employees, contractors, and other types of labor. Crucially, UAE respondents ranked future importance of talent ecosystem management much higher in comparison to the global average.
  • The future of work, including more agile HR, the incorporation of “smart” work, and change management.

An Employee-Centric Approach

Another key finding in the report is the need to create personalized experiences for employees. Many UAE survey respondents reaffirmed their belief that focusing on employee needs and expectations is a key success factor in the intensifying competition for talent, underscoring the importance of an employee-centric approach with a strong emphasis on the following:

  • Implementing digital tools that offer a seamless, personalized experience and ensure daily tasks are made easier.
  • Clear concepts for how best to organize remote work, actively incorporating and addressing the needs and aspirations of employees.
  • Business leaders demonstrating genuine appreciation for employees and actively engaging with them through, for example, personalized ‘thank you’ messaging in light of work-related achievements.

“Companies today must navigate an exceedingly challenging business environment—and strong, proactive people management is the only way to ensure that companies have the right talent in place to succeed,” said Bob Morton, president of the WFPMA and a coauthor of the report. “A data-driven, objective approach that places people at the front and center of work can help HR leaders allocate scarce resources to the most urgent priorities.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

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