The technology revolution and future of work has arrived; it has already caused a major shift in the way people think, behave and act in both their personal and professional lives. As a result, companies have been forced to adapt to these changes just to stay in business.
In a recent survey I conducted with a cross-section of Kenyan companies, acquiring the right talent came out as the third most pressing challenge for HR professionals in the country. I have also heard through my ongoing discussions with HR leaders, that there are similar challenges within the East Africa region, including Rwanda and Tanzania.
The main reasons appear to be attributed to the following:
- A skills gap – a mismatch of workforce skills with the employment opportunities available
- A war for talent in an increasingly competitive market
- Companies struggling to adapt to the changing environment and expectations of the new generations.
There’s much more to the topic of talent in Kenya that meets the eye and it would be easy to write an entire book on the subject. In this article, I focus on the overall theme of the changing workplace and therefore, looking specifically at the key skills required by businesses as they plan the journey of taking their organisations into the next generation.
During my visit to Kenya in August 2018, I set the scene for how companies could prepare themselves for the future digital workplace in my live training session and also talked about the topic briefly on the K24 Inside Business show.
Nine Core Skills for the Next Generation Workplace
During the session, I asked the group what they thought the key skills for the future workplace are and soft skills, creative thinking, analytical skills, leadership skills, IT skills, being goal-oriented, team building, and critical thinking were all put forward. These are of course all very relevant and show that the HR leaders in Kenya are already thinking towards the future. However, I’d like to expand on that list by highlighting the following skills, which I believe will be important for companies to be successful in the new generation workplace.
- Digital collaboration – the world has been embracing virtual working for some time now and the use of technology to be ‘virtually present’ in meetings and participate in projects, requires a different approach to being physically in the room. Likewise, the increasing use of e-mail requires certain strategies to ensure it is effectively used, rather than becoming a severe drain on time and productivity. This recent Forbes article suggests that 2.5 hours each day are spent reading and writing e-mails. How much of this time is productive? Using clear and concise communication is imperative, to avoid the need to go back and forth for clarification and with so many different communication tools available (telephone, e-mail, instant messaging, WhatsApp, SMS, video conferencing etc.), the ability to determine the right one to use in any given scenario can also be a challenge.
- Digital mindset – the ideal candidate will be a ‘digital native’ or at least feel comfortable with the fast pace of change and technology being at the heart of the business. Developing a mindset to leverage technology to solve challenges or answer questions and using the power of data to influence informed decisions, are key components to the success of businesses in the digital age.
- Dynamic problem solving – thriving in a constantly changing environment must be embraced through the ability to solve challenges dynamically and by continuing to innovate new ideas to different problems, rather than trying to apply traditional thinking.
- Dynamic learning – the ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn is a crucial skill in this ever-changing digital world.
- Human-digital relationships – technology has enabled the world to be more connected but remaining human in a world full of technology is more important than ever. Knowing how to build authentic relationships and the ability to navigate the global and connected workplace, will continue to become increasingly important.
- Learning from failure – many humans today have been conditioned to see failure as a negative thing and this has prevented them from trying new things or experimenting. Learning from failure and seeing it as an opportunity rather than a setback will be increasingly critical to success.
- Critical thinking – the increasing access to data and information can be overwhelming and requires a higher level of interpretation, filtering and processing than before, to ensure the information is used in the right way to inform decisions.
- Multi-cultural intelligence – business is becoming more global each day. Being able to appreciate the benefits of global business and respond to working across geographies in a positive and impactful way will be crucially important.
- Functional agility – a job for life and the proverbial ‘career ladder’ are becoming concepts of the past; employees today must be able to show agility and success across different roles, responsibilities and businesses. The rise of the “gig” economy means a shift from traditional employment and brings higher levels of change, uncertainty and flexibility.
Six Steps to Actively Attract the Right Talent
- Build a strong, compelling brand – a company brand must be attractive to new talent and also make current employees feel proud to work for. Consider Google or Facebook; many people have a positive impression of what it may be like to work for Google or Facebook, even if they have never even applied for a job with them. For a similar regional example, think about how Safaricom have strategically positioned their brand in the market. This demonstrates the power of having a strong brand. Does your business create the same impression? Do people recognise your business and know what it is about?
- Social media – leveraging social media is becoming increasingly more powerful way to position a brand, build a talent pipeline and establish a platform for communicating with the relevant people in the marketplace. Spend time creating a social media strategy, to ensure you are leveraging the tools in the right way.
- LinkedIn – the well-known network of almost 6 million users is fast becoming an end-to-end talent solutions company, with many exciting developments planned ahead. You can read more about what they have planned here. The site has become increasingly popular with both candidates and companies looking for talent. Creating a company page as part of an online brand and hiring strategy is the first step; prospective candidates that resonate with the brand and vision will be able to follow the company page, providing an easy platform to communicate and engage with them. There is a wealth of further opportunities for those who are open and willing to embrace LinkedIn.
- Glassdoor – technologies such as Glassdoor now allow past and present employees to provide insights into what it is like working for their employers. This can be seen as a problem or an opportunity to take control of the company’s presence on Glassdoor by adding information, updates, photos and responding directly to reviews in a positive and constructive way. Actively encouraging employees to post positive reviews about experiences they have had and exciting projects they may be working on, is an effective way to counter some negative opinions from disgruntled employees.
- Visually tell your story – through a careers site, social media, talent pool database and other key channels by speaking directly to the target candidates. Be clear about the company vision, what it stands for and the ideal candidates the company wish to attract. Being too general will not attract the right candidates, so it is critical to tailor messages so it resonates 100% with the candidates the company are trying to reach.
- Incorporate technology into your hiring process – there are many exciting new technologies being developed each day. At the basic level, introduce an Application Tracking System (ATS), in conjunction with a well-crafted careers site, which makes it easy for candidate to apply and helps to control the process flow. Gamification technologies are also an excellent way to engage candidates using games, while assessing them against the core skills the company are looking for to create the right ‘fit’. Many of the skills outlined above cannot be easily assessed through the traditional application and interview process.
Join the Conversation
If you would like to join my future events in Africa, please drop me a message.
I would also love to hear your thoughts on this topic – feel free to post them below or drop me a message.