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Everything about the way of work has changed - shouldn't human resource practices be in sync with that? Image Credit: Shutterstock

Many work pillars we’ve come to know and embrace have been dismantled one by one. From remote working to shorter work weeks, there have been many variations of the increasing penchant for better integrating work and life. The question then becomes – What does the future of work really look like and how do we navigate through the Great Resignation or Great Re-shuffle?

Attempts have been made to answer this, but nothing that really captured a definitive image of what the future holds for both employers and employees. In the region, governments have tried to weigh in – with the UAE implementing a 4.5-day work week for public sector workers. Some countries and multinational organisations are ahead of the game by creating ultra-flexible work setups for people. Other companies in the UAE are even taking it a step further, going as far as ‘individual contracting’ for top talent.

As we are navigating the Great Resignation and 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution), companies are forced to revisit ‘the worth it factor’. This will need to go far beyond pay and benefits, addressing the overall value proposition of employers to remain relevant in the competition for top talent.

Companies need to embark on a transformational journey by creating an encompassing organisational culture, that not only promotes the wellbeing of everyone, but puts people first.

Work-life integration vs balance

The pandemic has challenged many belief systems around work and employment. It’s becoming more apparent how the pandemic has fundamentally transformed the way we feel about our work, the way we work, do business and meet customer needs.

To achieve this transition toward a more integrated way of working, the HR function should not be independent of other business streams, and a cohesive transformation strategy creates space for this integration. The rise of ESG principles also adds a layer of motivation for employers to inspire effective corporate cultures – another layer of pressure to be more creative and innovative.

This mindset opens a whole new world of possibilities in human resources, especially for big employers such as Al Ghurair. One effective way to tackle this is to embed and deliver the business strategy through a robust ‘People Strategy’, – ensuring that key units and managers across the organisation are upskilled and reskilled to deliver the change required.

As a function, HR is now, more than ever before, actively engaged in overall business strategy. The challenge we face now is in innovating organisational structures and identifying critical roles that did not exist in the past, whilst retiring those that have become obsolete. Through this renewed organisational design, we need to first identify the skills relevant for future-proofing businesses and then adapt in recruiting and retaining these skills within the organisation.

Technology changes the game for HR

The new wave of challenges and opportunities in HR management is heavily driven by technology – with the rise of AI, big data, and machine learning increasingly permeating the HR practice. Leaders in human resource are under renewed pressure to fully take advantage of the promises of technology – across the different functions from recruitment to talent retention, all while driving organisational culture towards a data insights and solution culture.

These applications are especially helpful for big employers, who by virtue of employing thousands have become custodians of massive data. Technology provides the tools not only to safeguard this information but also to use them in making data-driven decisions and crafting people-centred HR practices.

At the onset, the Metaverse may serve to expand business models and drive change in the way business communicates with all its stakeholders. As adoption across the four generations increases, HR leaders too will need to re-evaluate the way we acquire talent, communicate with our people, how to make hybrid-work work, and most importantly, how we upskill and reskill our people.