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Managing Your Modern Workforce In The MENA Region: The How-To As you drive your company towards the next big goal, keeping in sync with the latest in workforce management is a must.

By Jayant Paleti

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The world of work is witnessing unprecedented changes globally, ushering in a workforce that's diverse and distributed, and a workplace that's both digital and human. While this ever-evolving triad of work, workforce, and workplace is a global phenomenon, the modern workforce demands unique management approaches that are colored by their regional nuances.

As an entrepreneur, you know this too well. So, as you drive your company towards the next big goal, keeping in sync with the latest in workforce management is a must. In this article, I distill my experience of enabling 650+ enterprises to manage their workforce from the lens of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, delving into the key factors that will help you empower your workforce for the future.

The talent landscape in the MENA is changing rapidly. Many countries in the region have a mandate to create digital economies by 2030. The vast majority of the workforce is employed by sectors like retail, real estate, infrastructure, healthcare, and others that involve a distributed work setup demanding agile and on-the-go capability to act for business momentum. While historically the workforce was dominated by expatriates, there has recently been a push from multinationals and the government to employ more locals. Additionally, the introduction of new labor laws is a welcome move towards a more employee-friendly work environment.

From an employee perspective too, there has been a significant change in expectations. A recent research shows that the workforce today wants flexibility, a healthy workplace, and more value from their work. It is imperative for organizations then to provide progressive technology for this workforce to be engaged, feel valued, and be productive. A Deloitte report quotes that "digital HR has become not just "nice to have,' but a necessity for an organization's future growth and acceleration." After all, an engaged and productive workforce is your biggest competitive advantage- as such, here are three ways you can use HR tech to better manage your modern workforce:

1. Meet your employees where they are For the highly diverse and distributed workforce in the MENA, by virtue of the industries, nationalities, business models, and "work from home" culture induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, cubicles are a thing of the past. With the Middle East having one of the highest smartphone penetrations in the world at 97%, a majority of the workforce is adept with their mobile phones. For this young, tech savvy population, mobility with flexibility and ease of access is a topmost priority not just for their day-to-day, but also in the flow of work. In such a scenario, it is a good idea to look at a mobile-first HR technology platform to manage everything from onboarding new employees to creating engagement and retaining top talent. Furthermore, most MENA employees now prefer remote and hybrid working to on-site. This necessitates multiple digital tools that allow them to do their job efficiently. A human resources management system (HRMS) that seamlessly integrates with other software providing a "super app" goes a long way in reducing friction between your workforce and technology.

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2. Add the x factor to your employee experience There is a shift in the way employees work, and how they "view" work. In this era of "The Great Resignation," keeping your employees engaged is not optional. To empower this hybrid, purpose-driven workforce to be more productive and engaged, it's imperative to prioritize employee engagement and employee experience (EX). Be it day-to-day collaboration and communication, career development and growth, engagement and wellness, the workforce is looking at HR tech to support them. They are looking for "a holistic employee life experience," not just employee experience. So, when choosing an HR technology for your business, look for one that caters to moments that matter along the entire employee lifecycle. This translates into a lot of innovation at the technology level– including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities that allow you to create personalized experiences, get predictive insights, and increase engagement and motivation for your digital, distributed workforce. Innovations such as Voicebot, facial recognition-based touchless attendance, etc. are critical in enhancing EX, especially in the post-pandemic workplace.

3. Upskill your biggest asset In the dynamic world of work, workforces need to constantly adapt, upskill, and embrace opportunities. While the MENA is in line with the global technology trends, are businesses ready to address the shrinking shelf-life of skills? According to a report in the internet society, there is a huge focus on upskilling the workforce to embrace digital transformation. Further, a PwC report finds that nationalization, the region's move to increase the number of local talent, drives the need to develop the right skills at home. Whatever be your objective for upskilling your biggest asset, the gains are manifold– from increased employee engagement to longer tenure. Investing in a comprehensive HRMS allows you to personalize learning through AI-based recommendations, gamify the experience while identifying and building competencies for your employees so their career progression is unhindered, and you have a future-proofed talent pool at all times.

On the whole, technology will play a pivotal role in shaping and managing the workforce of the future in the MENA region. You will need to lean on the right HR tech that not only adds efficiency to your processes, but empowers your people to reach their highest and most productive potential.

Related: It's Time To Reimagine The Role Advertising Plays In Our World Today

Jayant Paleti

Co-founder, Darwinbox

Jayant Paleti is the co-founder of Darwinbox, Asia’s fastest-growing HR tech platform. Founded in 2015, Darwinbox’s cloud-based human capital management platform caters to private and public sector HR needs across the entire employee lifecycle.  

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