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For today's digital natives populating workplaces, employers need to use tech to connect better. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News

A report by online jobs portal Bayt revealed that 91 per cent of professionals in the MENA region considered changing jobs this year. The developments echo trends in the West, where the ‘The Great Resignation’ phenomenon of 2021 and 2022 saw millions quit jobs, citing low pay, minimal opportunities for advancement, feeling unappreciated and an inflexible work environment.

While the MENA employment environment differs – particularly in the dominance of the public sector in the labor market, a youthful population, and low female participation – job dissatisfaction cuts across borders and cultures. The Great Resignation presents organizations with a double whammy. While organizations are losing workers, they are also finding it hard to recruit, with a McKinsey report finding 44 per cent of workers in the US who voluntarily left a job without another in hand have little to no interest in returning to traditional employment soon.

The prospect of workers leaving and losing the ability to recruit freely should concern every business, as this could result in both direct and indirect financial losses. Acquiring talent is expensive; studies have found that it costs 6-9 months' salary on average to replace an employee. The indirect costs are no less impactful – a departing colleague disrupts teams, affects morale, and reduces productivity, at least in the short term.

MENA's unique demographics, where half the population is under 25, present an opportunity to forge a resilient digital-led workforce. A digital workplace is not only key to attracting digital natives, but is vital to retaining them. And it all starts with a tech-powered Human Resource Management Software (HRMS) Suite that covers the entire employee lifecycle; from attracting talent, recruiting, onboarding, engagement, and career advancement.

Shaping the world of work

To win the talent war in an increasingly digital labor market means meeting candidates where they are – be it on mobile or social media. A study found that 67 per cent of all job applications were submitted last year using mobile devices. Candidates are also increasingly turning to social media to connect with employers and find jobs. These statistics demonstrate how an outdated application system can lose organizations potential candidates.

Technology can also significantly optimize the recruitment process. Tools for resume parsing, automated pre-screening, etc. help determine if potential employees are a good fit for the role, company culture and other organizational nuances. Additionally, chatbots are available to engage potential candidates around the clock and optimize HR's time by freeing them from addressing mundane queries.

Similarly, digital onboarding, with an online repository of all information enables a smooth induction for an employee. While new hires should meet HR and team leaders in person, video-based training, recorded leadership messages, and handbooks play a powerful complementary role in introducing new employees to the organizational culture.

AI-powered OCR technology that scans and automatically validates the authenticity of documents like passports, IDs, education certificates, etc., aligns with trends in the region where public services have largely gone paperless.

Retaining the ‘human’

The digital human resource management process doesn't end there but is key to nurturing a superior employee experience (EX). Voice bot and facial recognition-based touchless attendance are increasingly crucial in the post-pandemic work environment.

Proactive, timely engagement powered by technology fosters collaboration and encourages meaningful one-on-one conversations for employees working remotely or in the office. Giving and receiving continuous feedback, recognizing employee achievements, and managing performance are some other ways in which HR tech assists in talent engagement and retention.

Digitizing the employee journey generates valuable data which can be analyzed to generate insights and improve talent retention strategies. Combined with a proper online-based upskilling/reskilling strategy, HR organizations can shape a future-ready workplace even in an uncertain labor market.

Developing a winning strategy

As the demand for talent grows, companies need to take a robust and holistic approach backed by technology to win the talent war. It is important to remember that it’s not just about leveraging technology for the sake of it - it is about finding the right balance of technologies and talent strategies with a human touch.