Mumabi: Online professional network LinkedIn has launched a new global C-level research study to show how flexibility and employee benefits introduced during the pandemic are now at risk due to the ongoing economic uncertainty. According to the research, nine out of every 10 business leaders in India say the current economic climate could threaten flexible working (91 per cent), while other areas of work life such as learning and development (90 per cent) and employee wellbeing (89 per cent) are most likely to be affected too.
In fact, more than two-fifths of India’s business leaders are looking to reduce employer learning and development budgets and opportunities (43 per cent), and nearly half (49 per cent) are looking to reduce flexible and hybrid working roles. Additionally, 71 per cent also prefer to work more frequently from the office as opposed to working from home. Despite this, 82 per cent of business leaders believe that hybrid working is here to stay for the long term.
This comes at a time when new analysis of remote job postings on LinkedIn shows that remote roles are in decline, although the applications to those roles exceed supply by nearly 2x in India. In September, 11.3 per cent of paid job postings in India offered a remote working option. However, remote working roles received 20.3 per cent of all job applications.
Employer-employee disconnect could demotivate professionals: The research highlights a growing disconnect between what professionals want and what employers are now offering, with the balance of power shifting back to employers as hiring slows.
LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report reveals that across India, the top priorities that job seekers value beyond compensation are advancement, upskilling, and work-life balance. In terms of advancement, the report finds that employees want growth and transformation in their careers. In India, an employee who has made an internal move is about 10 per cent more likely to stay at their company when compared to those who stay in the same role for two or three years.
But with companies reducing flexibility and growth opportunities, the C-level research shows that a majority (86 per cent) of business leaders in India are concerned that these cost-cutting measures will have a negative impact on employee motivation levels, which may also be why 84 per cent agree they aren’t able to find the right talent today.
LinkedIn India country manager Ashutosh Gupta said, "The sheer scale of the ongoing uncertainty is forcing many leaders to rethink what—and how much — they can offer to their employees today. While flexibility and learning are usually the first to go when times are tough, pulling back on these in the present situation could demotivate employees, widen the skills gap, and inflate retention rates. At a time when professionals are just as threatened by the age of uncertainty as businesses are, leaders must adopt a forward-thinking approach and continue to invest in their people. Empowering employees to upgrade their skills and allowing them to choose how they want to work can drive greater levels of employee satisfaction in these testing times. Ultimately, having a workforce that feels supported and fulfilled will be key to building resilient businesses that drive growth and outperform competitors despite macroeconomic challenges."
Leading through uncertainty
As companies navigate uncertainty, one area of agreement is clear: creative thinking and problem-solving are critical. These are the top soft skills Indian leaders identified as necessary to get through this time, followed by communication, adaptability, and transparency. In fact, soft skills such as problem-solving, communication, and strategy were featured in 78 per cent of jobs posted globally on LinkedIn over the last three months. Rather than leaving their teams in the dark about the tough decisions ahead, leaders need to build bridges with their employees and bring them on the journey with them.
LinkedIn’s advice for leaders to navigate uncertainty
Take an adaptive leadership approach: leaders must be transparent about the current state of affairs and adapt to what lies ahead, while also providing employees with clarity on short-term business priorities. They should see this period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust, which will stand them in good stead when the cycle ends.
Maintain workforce connection and trust
Today, half of Indian employers (51 per cent) encourage employee collaboration and knowledge sharing. By helping employees build connections with their colleagues, employers can energise their teams and strengthen their company culture. Furthermore, returning to command and control styles of leadership and dictating that employees must be in the office will quickly erode trust.
Focus on skills
The skill sets needed for jobs have changed by around 29 per cent since 2015, and this number is expected to grow to 50 per cent by 2025. By understanding the skills your employees have today and the skills your company needs in the future, companies can hire or redeploy talent into growth areas.
LinkedIn has made a number of LinkedIn Learning courses available for free until December 31 to help leaders navigate uncertainty, including courses on "How to Future-Proof Your Organization and Become a Multiplier of Wellbeing in Your Organization." LinkedIn has also published its Global Talent Trends report, which provides leaders with insight into how labour market trends are affecting employees and workplaces.