The shortage of skilled employees is one of the biggest concerns of organizations worldwide. As per a survey by Manpower Group, the talent shortage is at a 17-year high and more than 77% of companies globally reported talent shortages in 2023.
Well, there is not a single reason but many factors like an aging workforce, increased wage inflation, and so on led to such an unprecedented situation. However, I would like to emphasize one particular reason that has, in my opinion, contributed significantly to the ongoing problem. Employee hiring and retention is now a high-hanging fruit!
The covid-19 pandemic and volatile market conditions over the past two-three years have made employees extremely mindful of their careers and job preferences. Today, employees are extremely cautious about the decision to tune their values with that of organizations.
Hiring the right employees has become a task and retaining them has become even more challenging.
The struggle in the Middle East is real.
Economies worldwide are struggling with labor shortages, and GCC nations are no exception. As per a PwC survey, a majority of employers in Middle Eastern countries acknowledge having a shortage of people with specialized skills. For instance, 75% of respondents from Kuwait and 60% from Qatar said that their country has a shortage of skilled people. Furthermore, 58% of respondents from Saudi Arabia and 46% from UAE also acknowledged the strain on available talent.
While the Middle East is evidently experiencing a shortage of skilled talent, increasing employee hiring and retention concerns have doubled down the challenges. As per PwC Middle East Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2022, over 30% of the employees in the Middle East were ‘extremely likely’ or ‘very likely’ to look for a new job in 2023. The percentage was much higher than the global average of 19%.
I recently read an article in Kuwait Times, which said that Kuwait is eyeing to recruit expatriate workers from new labor-exporting countries to address labor shortages in certain fields and diversify labor sources to meet the market’s needs. While expanding horizons by welcoming foreign workers or availing offshore services are surely a step in the right direction, I believe that the real opportunity lies in using AI-backed technologies like automation to improve hiring and retention.
Automation for optimizing hiring and improving employee retention
We all saw the potential of automation when businesses went digital in a fortnight during the Covid-19 pandemic. During my entrepreneurship journey, I gained a fair share of experience in human resources, people management, and business development. Today, I am confident that automation is not a threat but presents an opportunity for growth. Innovation is the key to survival.
While there are endless benefits of using automation for hiring and retaining employees, here are some reasons I would like to mention to support my belief.
- Enhanced candidate experience
Candidate experience dictates hiring, and automation dictates experience. With automation, HR departments can speed up and personalize the whole hiring process, which in turn improves the candidate experience. For instance, an automation tool can help you respond to applicants within 12 to 24 hours of receiving their applications.
- Increased transparency
A transparent hiring process goes a long way in improving the bottom line. Automation can make tracking candidates and their applications easy. Customized automation solutions can allow the candidate to track their application status in real-time while helping the hiring managers to keep everyone up to date with the progression of things.
- Improved communication
If an employee feels “out of the loop”, he or she will eventually leave the organization in search of better opportunities. Communication binds the organization, and automation improved the bottom line by improving collaboration and communication within the workforce.
- Upskilling opportunities
Automation aids learning opportunities for employees. It helps create more efficient processes, improve safety, shorten training time, and relieve workforce pressures. For instance, it can perform many redundant and repetitive tasks, which provides employees the opportunity to focus on upskilling themselves. Upskilling improves employee proficiencies and fosters a learning culture.
- Enhanced employee satisfaction
Automation does not always supplant human work but in many cases supports it. It makes employees feel safe, valued, informed, and less burdened which improves their overall satisfaction. A satisfied employee advocates for your organization and remains loyal for a long time.
Today, it is not Machine vs. Humans, but about Machine-Human Collaboration. Automation has a huge potential to improve employee hiring and retention, especially in the Middle East. In fact, about 32% of employees (slightly more than the global survey average) in the Middle East said their companies were using technology to automate and upgrade the workplace.
OPINION PIECE: Anil Lanba Executive VP Pyramid Consulting Inc