Shifting to a digital mindset – what we have learned in 2023 | Mercer Marsh Benefits 

  1. The whole world underwent a monumental change during COVID, and then post the pandemic another shift occurred as people and businesses started returning to normal ways of living and working; except that what we considered ‘normal’ had also changed, particularly in the workplace. The changing nature of works means that employees are now driving a workplace culture where experience needs to align with expectations, and employees are more demanding when it comes to having their needs and values met. Accelerated digitization has enhanced this change and created an opportunity for organizations to elevate the employee experience and rethink their HR strategies to embrace a digital approach.
    We hear from Maher Hamze, Partner and Transformation Services Leader for Mercer Middle East, on what challenges and opportunities HR faces in a more digital-led workplace, and how organizations are embracing the shift to a digital first mindset.
  2. To cultivate the right skills and talent required to remain competitive and relevant for the future of work, we know that organizations need to enhance and evolve the way they manage, care for, and support their people. How can a digital approach to HR strategy help companies unlock the possibilities within their current and future workforces?
    A digital approach to HR strategy transforms and enhances how organizations engage with their workforce. Through advanced analytics, organizations can make data-driven decisions and offer personalized experiences. Digital platforms facilitate continuous learning, flexible work arrangements, and streamlined administrative tasks, while AI-driven tools optimize talent acquisition and performance management. Such strategies also promote well-being, facilitate real-time engagement feedback, and assist in succession planning. Overall, digital HR tools not only automate processes but also help in tapping into the full potential of both current and future employees
  3. With the advent of new technologies and digital tools, and with younger generations like Gen Z’s entering the workplace, employees expect an increasing level of digital delivery within their workplace experiences and many find a digital future appealing. Are employers prepared and equipped to deliver a digital experience when it comes to HR and has this changed significantly since before the pandemic?
    Even pre-pandemic, the advent of new technologies and the entrance of Gen Z into the workforce have elevated expectations for digital delivery in workplace experiences. Post pandemic, there definitely has been a marked acceleration in the adoption of digital HR tools, as organizations recognized the need for remote work solutions, efficient communication channels, and digitalized HR processes. While many employers have made significant strides in providing a comprehensive digital experience, the level of preparedness varies across industries and regions. The pandemic may have expedited the transition to digital HR practices, but disparities remain in how well-equipped different organizations are to meet these rising digital expectations.
  4. In order to create a compelling and comprehensive employee value proposition that will position an organization as an employer of choice, organizations need to understand what their employees value and what experiences are important to them. They also need to ensure that their value proposition aligns with employee values and expectations. Do you think that employers are more aware and aligned with their employees’ needs now post the pandemic than before COVID?

    More work can be done but some organization are making an active effort to understand employee preferences and get a sense of the various personas they have within the organization and personas they are looking to attract to tailor a more targeted employee value proposition rather than a one size fits all version.

    The pandemic has been a catalyst for many employers to revaluate and better align with their employees' needs. The challenges brought on by the pandemic underscored the importance of flexibility, well-being, and open communication. Many organizations were compelled to adapt quickly, instituting remote work policies, enhancing health benefits, and fostering more regular communication. This accelerated shift made employers more attuned to employees' changing priorities, values, and expectations. This has underscored the necessity for organizations to provide a customized value proposition for their employees, rather than a generic, one-size-fits-all solution.

  5. Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report 2022/2023 showed that there may still be disparities between what employers think and how employees feel, particularly when it came to remote and hybrid working. How can digital tools, data and technology help employers bridge gaps and improve their understanding of workforce needs?
    Digital tools and technology can help employers bridge these gaps by offering real-time feedback mechanisms, pulse surveys, and sentiment analysis. These tools capture and analyze employee experiences, preferences, and concerns. Advanced analytics can then transform this data into actionable insights, enabling employers to respond promptly, adapt policies, and ensure that their strategies are in tune with the actual needs and aspirations of their workforce.
  6. Generative AI is swiftly moving into workplaces and causing shifts in the way organizations view the future of work and the interactions between employers and employees. Both employees and organizations will need to evolve if they want to keep up with the fast changing digitized environment and remain relevant and competitive in the future. Technologies such as generative AI require a very different skill set therefore organizations need to assess their HR strategy to determine how they will develop, acquire and reward these skills. Developing a job and skills framework is a good starting point. What are some key aspects for organizations to consider and keep in mind as they evaluate their business, talent, and HR models? 
    As generative AI enters the workplace, it's pivotal for organizations to revaluate their business, talent, and HR models. A central consideration is the development of a robust job and skills framework, which will act as a foundation for identifying current competencies and future skill needs. Organizations should foster a culture of continuous learning, emphasizing both soft skills like critical thinking and technical proficiencies. It's crucial to integrate upskilling and reskilling initiatives aligned with this framework, ensuring the workforce remains adaptive to the swiftly changing tech landscape. A forward-looking recruitment strategy, valuing adaptability and potential, becomes essential.
  7. Talent attraction, retention and engagement is a top priority for most organizations, especially as digitization becomes more prevalent in the workplace and much-needed skills become scarce. To be an employer of choice and have thriving employees, organizations need to become more personable, transparent, and relatable – they need to cater to the individual rather than adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’. How can employers harness technology and digital tools to create opportunities for personalization and flexibility within their HR strategies?
    To attract and retain talent in an increasingly digitalized workplace, organizations must prioritize personalization and flexibility. Employers can harness technology and digital tools to achieve this by utilizing advanced analytics to understand individual employee needs, preferences, and career aspirations. AI-driven platforms can provide personalized learning and development paths, while digital communication channels can facilitate tailored feedback loops and engagement surveys. Additionally, remote work tools and digital collaboration platforms allow for flexible work arrangements tailored to individual needs. By leveraging these technologies, organizations can transition from a generic approach to an individual-centric HR strategy, enhancing employee satisfaction and commitment.
  8. As organizations look to 2024, many learnings can be garnered from looking back over the last four years and seeing how extensively workplaces have changed. What is the one change you would highlight from pre-COVID to now that HR can learn from as they plan for the year ahead?
    Reflecting on the last four years, the most significant change has been the rapid and broad-scale adoption of remote and hybrid work models. Pre-COVID, many organizations were hesitant about allowing employees to work from home or did so on a limited basis. The pandemic necessitated a swift shift to remote work, challenging traditional beliefs about productivity and collaboration outside the office. This transition has illuminated the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and the value of trust-based management. As HR plans for the future, embracing these learnings to create a more flexible, resilient, and employee-centric work environment will be crucial. It's evident that the future of work isn't bound by physical locations but by fostering connectivity, engagement, and well-being irrespective of where an employee is situated.

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Maher Hamze
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