Survey results indicate that employees are struggling to adjust to working remote.
Survey results indicate that employees are struggling to adjust to working remote.

The pandemic triggered a seismic shift in how, when and where we work. Business leaders around the world acknowledge these dramatic changes and have responded by implementing new workforce policies, according to KellyOCG’s 2021 Workforce Agility Report. However, many executives admit they are unprepared for how to manage talent, use technology, and support their employees in this new environment for the long term.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in India have forced employers to move towards remote work, and a hybrid work model will likely be the way forward,” said Pete Hamilton, vice president and regional director, APAC, at KellyOCG. “Organizations are still apprehensive about adopting the changing dynamics and thus a shift in both mindset and strategy is required. It’s clear that business leaders have been trying to implement various policies to help employees, but full execution is needed to reap the intended benefits.”

Organizations in India have been keen to adopt new leading-edge workforce technologies, but they have not been successful in implementing them rapidly, according to the KellyOCG survey.

  • 49 percent of executives in India said their organization is adopting new talent management technologies, but 50 percent also said they are too slow to adopt technologies such as AI and automation.

  • 55 percent said their workforce lacks the skills to be able to adopt new technologies at pace.

Business leaders in India say they will continue to offer hybrid work models and remote work opportunities to cater to the changing needs of employees who are balancing priorities at work and at home, but survey results indicate that employees are struggling to adjust to working remote.

  • 66 percent of executives in India said their organization will adopt a hybrid model.

  • However, 57 percent also said that remote work is mostly a disadvantage for their organization.

In order to address these discrepancies and help staff adjust to the changes in work mechanisms, organizations are focusing on up- and reskilling their permanent employees. In addition, businesses have been employing more contingent workers who are familiar with new technologies and are equipped to bridge workforce gaps, the survey found.

  • More than half (55 percent) of organizations said they will employ more contingent labour to improve resilience and take their workforce agility to the next level.

  • By comparison, in other regions across Asia-Pacific, about half (47%) of companies surveyed said they have employed more contingent talent than usual since the onset of the pandemic, while a similar number (43%) said they are using contingent talent to bridge skills gaps in their workforce.

To build mutual trust between permanent and contingent labour, employers have also been focusing on improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) solutions, and gradually implementing other policies to create a more accommodating work environment. 40% of respondents said their organization is focused on improving its DEI policies and 67% said overall employee satisfaction has improved.

India is still recovering from the initial onset of the pandemic and the effects of the second wave. With the possibility of a third wave in a few months, organizations will need to continue restructuring policies to meet the shifting demands of the situation.

Globally, the KellyOCG study also identified a group of leading organizations – the ‘Vanguards’ – who report employee wellbeing and productivity have significantly improved within their organizations during the pandemic, alongside improved revenue growth over the past three years. These leaders, which made up approximately 10 percent of respondents, are taking a strategic, long-term approach to improving the resilience, agility and wellbeing of their workforces, compared with the ‘Laggards’ (respondents that report a decline in employee wellbeing and productivity over the past 12 months).

Specifically, the data revealed four key global dynamics of the Vanguards’ response to the pandemic that are helping them build a more agile and resilient workforce, and a more profitable business.

  • Vanguards amplify workforce fluidity: They are more likely to have a comprehensive strategy for bridging skills gaps by employing new talent, bringing on temporary labour (63 percent), and implementing re-skilling initiatives (52 percent).

  • Vanguards are building a better employee experience: 91 percent of Vanguards say that improving the employee experience is as high a business priority as improving the customer experience.

  • Vanguards are improving DEI: While many still only pay lip service to DEI programs, Vanguards are making them a priority and are more likely to have company-wide DEI strategies.

  • Vanguards understand that adopting leading-edge technologies is critical to managing a workforce in flux: They are far more likely to deploy new tools to better manage all talent, boost collaboration and enhance the employee experience.

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