Future-proofing the Middle East

Business leaders in the Middle East admit to lagging behind when it comes to future-proofing their organisations' capabilities. But how can they overcome challenges such as traditional mindsets and a highly transient workforce?

Thanks to advances in technology, the nature of work is changing. A growing number of repetitive tasks are becoming automated, freeing up staff to focus on more challenging and creative jobs. However, HR directors and chief HR officers across the Middle East have conceded that they're not doing enough to develop future-proof capabilities within their organisations.

Business leaders in the Middle East understand as well as the rest of the world that in order to adapt to new demands and opportunities workers need to evolve alongside technology. Even so, findings of the Workforce of the Future: Middle East Edition report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) highlight that respondents from the region felt 70% less prepared than their global counterparts when it comes to capabilities around areas such as the future of work, future workers and unleashing performance.

"In many ways the Middle East is broadly in line with global trends, but in terms of how ready businesses are for change, we lag behind the rest of the world and that puts us at risk," says David Suarez, PwC's people and organisation Middle East leader. "In many organisations there are outdated management styles which are not suited to the more automated workplaces and changing roles of workers now being introduced. People in this region are still thinking more about talent and talent retention than they are about the nature of jobs and how they are changing."

HR needs to step up

Gary Johnson, Principle Human Resources Consultant at Quintica, which a ServiceNow partner, points out that if a business is not future-proofing or building capabilities it will become more challenging to attract talented individuals. This becomes a vicious circle, he says, as the best people look for companies where they can learn, grow and make a difference.

"Businesses in the region need to position the human resources function a lot more forward than is currently the case. Human capital is often transactional and administrative within the region. The HR functions need to step up to the plate and understand these risks and challenges. They need to provide not only strategies to improve capability but also thought leadership in the convergence of people and technology. Many HR functions and/or people are themselves not ready for this debate and/or business requirement," Johnson says.

Workforce planning and analytics

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