Oxford Economics Study Reveals EMEA Companies Unprepared for Workforce 2020

As economies worldwide slowly rebound in some regions, the latest research findings from Oxford Economics reveals that companies in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) face the same looming talent crisis as the rest of the world—only in some cases more so.

The worldwide survey was supported by SAP and entitled, “Workforce 2020.” Its findings are based on feedback from executives and employees encompassing C-level, mid-level, and line-of-business managers, as well as front-line employees from a variety of industries.

EMEA-based businesses are struggling with many of the same issues as organizations in other parts of the world. Executives cite the following top five labor market shifts: millennials entering the workforce (54 percent), the globalization of the labor supply (50 percent), difficulty recruiting employees with base-level skills (47 percent), an aging workforce and increasing numbers of contingent employees (both at 42 percent). Here is a summary of EMEA responses, including how they stack up against other parts of the world.

Millennials Are Different, But Not as Different as Companies Think

Similar to respondents from every other region in the world, EMEA executives appear to misunderstand millennials. Forty-six percent of EMEA executives think millennials are frustrated with the quality of their managers, but just seven percent of millennials say they are—a gap reflected in feedback from companies worldwide.

Companies Unprepared to Meet the New Face of Work

EMEA responses about the changing make-up of workers were pretty much aligned with other regions in terms of the gap between hiring practices and the perceived need for HR policy shifts. Eighty-two percent of EMEA executives say they are increasingly using contingent, intermittent, seasonal, or consultant employees. Yet only 26 percent believe that this workplace demographic shift requires changing HR policies.

Companies Don’t Understand What Employees Really Want

EMEA companies have more in common with those in Asia-Pacific when it comes to benefits, incentives, and compensation. About the same percentage of employees in both regions (60 percent) said that competitive compensation is the most important benefit and incentives. However, only 36 percent of companies in EMEA offer competitive compensation. The gap is even bigger in Asia-Pacific with only 27 percent of companies providing competitive compensation.

Employees and Executives Agree Leadership Is Lacking

Just 33 percent of EMEA executives say their company has plans for succession and continuity in key roles. This percentage is lower than the United States (51 percent) and Latin America (47 percent). The only region less prepared with succession and continuity plans is Asia-Pacific (29 percent). EMEA employees are also the most pessimistic about leadership capabilities. Only 38 percent believe leadership at their company is equipped to lead for success. This is lower than Latin America (58 percent), the United States (51 percent), and Asia-Pacific (40 percent).

Employees Aren’t Receiving Needed Technology Training

EMEA employees are receiving more training on workplace technologies (47 percent) than employees in the United States (39 percent), but have about the same amount of access as their counterparts in other region to the latest innovations (around 30 percent).

All of this isn’t to say that EMEA-based companies aren’t taking steps to address the top issues of the future workforce. “Workforce development is seen by the board as a strategic priority as it’s critical to meeting corporate objectives and growing the business,” said Kevina Wepukhulu, Chief Manager, Human Resource and Administration, Kenya Power and Lighting Co. “The effort is arrayed around key areas, including strategies for systems, for the organization, and for teams and individuals. The approach is based on learning and development, which enables us to retain the workers we hire and train.”

Findings like these show that as companies transform in a digitized world, so must the role of Human Resources. For example, while demand will increase during the next three for workers skilled in advanced technologies, few employees expect proficiency in cloud (21 percent) or analytics (46 percent) by then. To attract and engage top talent across an increasingly diverse workforce, including millennials, high-performance companies worldwide are revisiting assumptions to refocus on better talent management, leadership cultivation, and understanding employees. The challenges may be enormous but so are the pay-offs.

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