A revolution is happening at work and more organisations are adapting by transforming to the new world. In the GCC, we have seen many companies have gone for temporary pay-cuts, while highly diversified conglomerates have shifted their employees from one division to the other to balance demand and supply.
There is no denial that the nature of work is changing and organisations have to prepare a blueprint for the unexpected. This year it’s coronavirus. Next time, and there will be a next time, it could be a natural calamity, a recession, talent flight or something else unforeseen.
Redefining the nature of work
Even today most organisastions in the Gulf are managing by “attendance”. There is a mismatch between modern, flexible ways of working and traditional ways of organising and rewarding work. To close this gap, organisations need new approaches that fit today and can flex for the future.
New and evolving technologies allow organisations to operate more effectively and efficiently. They do this by equipping people to work more productively and by introducing virtual ways of doing things that previously required physical presence.
A few organisations in the region are creating “flexible teams” to resolve specific issues, then disband them afterwards.
Move towards liquid workforce
HR laws in the GCC have undergone change in the last three years to allow for part-time employees and internships. And with the rise of an independent freelance community offering specialized professional services that were rare to find few years ago.
In future, we will see more organisations tailoring its resource requirements to the needs of the labour market. Organisations will move towards a liquid workforce to capture the best talent regardless of source or nature of contract, and who may not be employed full-time.
Splitting time and skills
A few global companies are making use of employees’ skills and motivation within the confines of a traditional role. They have developed a SharePoint platform where employees can give up to 20 per cent of their time to projects outside of their core role. The 80/20 approach allows for flexibility without the contractual implications of making significant changes to roles and functions.
The projects range from large - like supporting big corporate initiatives - to small, like moderating a series of workshops. These smaller projects may last just a few weeks and take up less than 20 per cent of a person’s working time.
Trainees, called “start-up” participants, also work according to the 80/20 principle. That means they follow a set rotation programme for four days of the week and meet on Fridays to work on joint projects.
Even after right-sizing in many GCC companies, there is a larger impact of grade/title inflation on performance. In the short-term it is important to preserve operating capacity in the event that demand returns to normal sooner than expected, by managing leaves and cutting pay for limited time.
In intermediate actions, orgnisations will have to adjust individual performance incentives as conditions normalize and consider crisis-related spot awards where applicable. In the longer term, organisations will have to not only maintain awards for top-performers, but also consider tying bonuses and incentives to crisis-related health and-safety metrics With no rules of the game, and such rapid evolution, it’s not surprising that many companies feel they don’t know where or how to start. They need fresh thinking and new approaches on a whole range of topics – including how to create a new deal that works for their people.
- Vijay Gandhi is Regional Director at Korn Ferry Digital.