image002 9 image002 9

9 in 10 business leaders believe economic uncertainty threatens to wind back “pandemic progress” in the workplace: LinkedIn research

 LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network, today launched a new global C-level research 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, 9 out of every 10 business leaders in India say the current economic climate could threaten flexible working (91%), while other areas of work life such as learning and development (90%) and employee wellbeing (89%) 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%), and nearly half (49%) are looking to reduce flexible and hybrid working roles (49%). Additionally, 71% also prefer employees to work more frequently from the office as opposed to working from home. Despite this, 82% of business leaders believe that hybrid working is here to stay for the longer 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 2022, 11.3% of paid job postings in India offered a remote working option. However, remote working roles received 20.3% 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% 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%) 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% agree they aren’t able to find the right talent today.

Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn 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 of problem-solving, communication, and strategy were featured in 78% 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.

Here’s LinkedIn’s advice for leaders to navigate uncertainty:

  • Take an adaptive leadership approach – Leaders must be transparent about the current reality and adapt to what lies ahead, whilst 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 (51%) employers in India encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees. By helping employees to 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 has changed by around 29% since 2015 and this number is expected to grow up to 50% 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.

To help leaders navigate uncertainty, LinkedIn has made a number of LinkedIn Learning courses available for free until December 31, 2022 – including courses on How To Future Proof Your Organisation and Become a Multiplier of Wellbeing In Your Organisation. LinkedIn has also published its Global Talent Trends report which provides leaders with insight into how labour market trends are affecting employees and workplaces.