As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, employers are finding it hard to either find the right talent or retain it.
This is because automation, digital platforms, and other innovations have fundamentally changed the nature of work.
According to a report by IBM, the talent shortage in the digital age is a global phenomenon and the threat is that organizations are not effectively tackling the issue.
“Executives recognize the skills gap,” claims the report. “They know it’s both real and problematic. But most of their organizations don’t appear to be actively or effectively tackling the issue.”
Ironically, although executives recognize the significant threat the talent shortage poses, most of them have not proactively tackled the problem and most of them have not moved beyond traditional hiring and training strategies.
To help firms hire and train for the future, Sage organized a forum that saw several HR specialists meet and discuss the challenges and solutions to both HR as a department and as a function in the digital age.
Sage recognizes that companies need to introduce automation and continuously reskill the workforce to remain competitive. Speaking at the Sage HR Forum in Nairobi, HR professional, Wycliffe Osoro, told HR practitioners not to fear automation.
“AI will not wipe out jobs as we think, but it will create 130 million new jobs for human beings. The question is whether individuals and organizations are prepared for the new roles,” Osoro said.
“Only 5 percent of jobs can be fully automated. There are things systems and digital tools can do but people can do better. The ability to learn is one of the skills that is required of the employees of the future. Analytical skills and creativity are equally critical,” he added.
According to Osoro, the challenge of HR now is the need to recruit for attitude and the right mindset rather than just the hard skills as work dynamics had changed.
“The ability to learn is one of the skills of the future. Analytical and human skills-the ability to interact with others is important. Today’s employer and employee are more interested in soft skills than the hard skills,” he said.
As an organization, reskilling or retraining for the future should, therefore, be part of the company culture so that employees don’t feel left out in the digital economy. But training alone is not enough, firms need to have the right culture to attract and retain top talent in the digital age. An organization’s culture will cause talent to remain and leave an organization, as longevity is no longer a sign of performance by employees.
With automation, HR has also to deal with the challenge of mobility. Firms need to know how to deal with remote workers in the gig economy and should structure ad motivate them based on their productivity regardless of the presence or absence.
From a technical point of view, Sage’s regional director for East Africa, Nikki Summers, added that firms needed the right tools to make their HR effective in the gig economy where teams are decentralized and mostly mobile.
Summers said cloud computing is a key driver to any firm’s digital transformation.
“Cloud is a key driver for digital transformation from traditional paper-based processes. The advantage with the cloud is that you pay for what you use, therefore in terms of cost, you pick up the cost depending on your priorities or needs.”
“Cloud allows for 24/7 accessibility regardless of your location and time zone. In the last few years, there was little integration and little collaboration. Collaboration makes work easier. At Sage, we are going to allow Open API so that as a customer, you can integrate with other systems and processes you require,” Summers added.
To manage employees of the future, Sage, a software as a service firm urged the organizations and HR firms represented at the forum to move to the cloud as it gives them the mobility they need to allow their staff to work from anywhere and anytime.
“The cloud gives you and your firm the mobility that you need and you don’t have to be at your desk all the time as long as you are meeting your obligations,” Summers urged presenting some of Sage HR solutions to the attendees and scheduling one-on-one sessions for those who needed more information.
With digitization, Sage aims to help firms to use available tools to free up their time for productivity. Sage is not just accounting software. It’s Sage Payroll packages process payments for over 28 million people worldwide. With technology, Sage aims to make HR an organizational strategy and not just a function and or department that can be replaced.
As a strategy, HR can help organizations shape their staff or themselves for the future. With the right recruitment and selection software, HR departments and entire organizations can save time, effort and resources on their HR processes.
Sage, for example, can allow firms to deploy its automated advertising, screening and onboarding software. The firm’s recruitment software can reach targeted talent through a wide range of job boards and social platforms, then quickly and accurately match candidates to the right job.
The system can then approve the applicants, screen them and process applications for interviews. Even more, Sage allows users to create their own branded job listings to improve their recruiting strategy. Firms can then keep their candidates informed and engaged with regular, branded communications and automated reminders and as well gather feedback from candidates and successful hires to continuously improve the hiring process.
To address the skills gap, Sage, reminded firms that hiring alone will not be a sustainable solution to the talent crisis. But the firms need to manage skills, talent, and culture.