Change is the only constant in the modern workplace

There is no perfect work-ready employee anymore

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Published: Mon 23 May 2022, 10:55 PM

The jury is out on whether or not Covid’s run will have a long-term impact on workflow processes in the market: the only thing that’s clear is that hybrid work — a trend that rides mainly on tech-enablement — will most likely become a new norm in the foreseeable future.

But Covid or no Covid, what will change inexorably is how quickly workers, whether they are in hybrid mode or not, need to adapt to changing dynamics.

Yes, technology, which now powers all walks of work-life, from healthcare to hospitality, is changing at breakneck speed, and rendering processes obsolete on a daily basis. Which is why it’s important to take the recent findings of a UAE Skills Survey report seriously and thoughtfully. The report, brought out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), has revealed that, last year, 93 per cent of firms have had difficulties recruiting suitably qualified engineers for available jobs.

What this essentially means is that by the time a new recruit hits the ground running, the processes he or she had “mastered” — either in an institution or an earlier job — could have potentially become redundant, thanks to the pace of change.

The findings may well be for a specific sector — in this case, engineering — but it rings true for the entire spectrum. “Employers want ready-made, fully trained employees,” said Sir Julian Young, president of IET. “However, the reality is, technology is developing at such a rapid pace. We must either go back to schools or colleges and integrate the kind of training that is required to work with such technology or take the current crop of engineers and train them. There is no perfect work-ready employee anymore.”

Keeping an organisation aligned to fluctuations that come attendant with a rapidly-evolving job profile is critical. And this is where the matter of orientation comes in. Orientations, historically, have been meted in a template: they usually flesh out vision, values and benchmarks. While vision and values are obviously important lessons to be imparted, benchmarks, today, are in a flux.

A person who is being hired should not look at his or her predecessor, or the broad outlines of a particular role, in order to get factory-fitted. They should be trained on the spot, factoring in the new dimensions that a job would have acquired. The trajectory of the learning curve will also need to embed Artificial Intelligence — a vertical that can single-handedly alter the face of the traditional marketplace.

While it is accepted that machines cannot ever replace human capital, the trick is to ensure that a workforce is always kept on the ball, and never caught napping. The onus will lie on both employers and employees. Employers have to be proactive in ushering in the credo that change is the only constant. And employees have to step up to the challenge.

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