As we step into what was supposed to be the post-pandemic recovery period for businesses globally, recent news has pointed out otherwise. From layoffs to hiring freezes to grow inflation, economic uncertainty seems far from over. Many organizations and employers are bracing themselves for an economic downturn.
LinkedIn’s latest LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report shows the hiring rate in India easing off 18% since this time last year, as we see a slower rate of economic growth across major economies globally. The report also indicates candidates’ and employees’ confidence in improving their financial situation has declined by 9 points in India, a similar trend among 8 countries surveyed globally. LinkedIn’s C-suite Research also highlights that employers share similar concerns as their employees, with 52% concerned about the financial pressures their employees will face as the cost of living rises.
These findings bring us back to the key lesson the pandemic has taught us: talent is your critical asset, and organizations should continue to prioritize skilling during a time when they may be looking at cost-cutting business measures. While the economic uncertainty may force companies to wind back progress on critical areas of working life—from flexible work arrangements to skills development to employee well-being—this is at odds with what employees want. An adaptive leadership approach, that prioritizes maintaining workforce connection and trust as well as focusing on skills in hiring and redeploying talent into growth areas will be crucial in navigating the uncertainty ahead.
LinkedIn’s Ashutosh Gupta, India’s Country Manager, said, “Investing in skills allows businesses to stay nimble amidst changing landscapes, disruption, and uncertainty.” For example, COVID taught us that businesses with the right talent and necessary skills to support the rapid digitalization that was taking place managed to survive and thrive. This is also reflected in our latest research, which shows that when companies hire for skills, they increase their talent pools by 12 times. “A skills-first approach in today’s landscape, therefore, becomes critical as businesses actively seek high-impact talent that can champion innovation at the workplace.”
Striking a balance between business decisions and employee wants
Crafting strategies for the business and your people at this point in time can get challenging. LinkedIn’s latest C-suite research points out that while business leaders wind back on progress in various areas, from flexibility to upskilling to reduce costs, there is 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.
Statistics reveal that 56% of leaders across India are reducing flexible and hybrid working roles, and 62% of business leaders prefer employees to work more frequently from the office. Additionally, 50% of businesses have already cut back on employee benefits. However, the flip side of this picture is that 79% of leaders continue to feel that hybrid working is here to stay for the longer term. 82% of them are also concerned that these cost-cutting measures might have a negative impact on employees.
In fact, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report shows that in India, candidates consider compensation and advancement their top priorities, followed by work-life balance. They also increasingly want remote work, even as employers scale back on remote job postings. With only 11.6% of job postings being remote in India, 20.4% of applications are being filed for remote jobs. Moreover, career growth and transformation are important criteria for employee retention. In an uncertain business landscape, upskilling your workforce to keep pace with the evolving skill demand will remain critical from a talent as well as from a business lens. It will help meet the dual needs of talent retention and business growth.
“Employees remain clear on their expectations from companies – they want work-life balance, flexible work arrangements, and learning and development opportunities that best work for them. Companies that offer the right mix of flexibility and learning opportunities will have greater chances of tapping into diverse talent pools and retaining key talent for longer tenures,” said Ruchee Anand, India’s Senior Director for Talent & Learning solutions.
Flexibility and Skilling is the key to Talent Management
As the tussle between business-driven decision and employee demands continue in an uncertain economic environment, business leaders cannot afford to overlook flexible working arrangements and upskilling opportunities. During challenging times, it is an organization’s talent that propels them forward, and LinkedIn’s C-suite research does point out that offering flexible work options allows businesses to maintain productivity while scaling back on operating costs. Additionally, employee growth and transformation opportunities continue to be relevant.
Even in India, business leaders believe that adopting new skills will be fundamental to navigating this uncertainty as the economic downturn causes skill gaps to widen. According to them, the top three skills would be creative thinking (45%), problem-solving (33%), and communication (31%). But this will vary across economies, grappling with the impact of the uncertain market according to their own unique circumstances.
The current economic climate comes with high costs to businesses, employers, and employees. What was meant to be a period of accelerated growth comes with the decision of cost-cutting measures that may negatively impact talent management strategies. With so much at stake, it’s never been more important for companies to understand the driving force behind the talent to build effective hiring and retention strategies.
And while sacrifices have to be made to wade through these turbulent times, business leaders must recognize certain priorities. According to LinkedIn’s latest Global Talent Trends Report, companies that hire for skills and cultivate a culture of internal mobility by investing in upskilling and reskilling their employees will find it easier to attract and retain top talent, who will play a significant role in driving the business forward.