90% CEOs in Asia Are Directly Involved in Shaping the Future of Work

February 13, 20175:04 pm1075 views

Most CEOs across Asia are directly involved in ensuring their company has the right skills to manage emerging ‘megatrends’, according to research from the Economist Corporate Network (ECN), sponsored by Hays.

90 percent CEOs in Asia are personally and strongly involved in developing strategies to secure talent who have an adequate mix of soft and hard skills. Only 10 percent of the 500 CEOs surveyed leave strategic decisions about recruitment and skills development to the HR department.

The ECN report, ‘Skills 4.0: How CEOs shape the future of work in Asia’, looks specifically at how business leaders in Asia perceive the types of skills needed in the future, as well as their own strategic role in shaping the future of work.

ECN Skills 4.0 reveals most CEOs are spending increasing amounts of time identifying current and emerging megatrends to ensure their organisation has the right people and skill sets to face these opportunities and challenges.

The report found 70 percent of CEOs are concerned that the current shortage of skills in Asia is a hurdle to developing their local management pool to help tackle ‘megatrends’. Specifically around technological progress and digitisation of the economy, regarded as opportunities and climate change and industry convergence – most often viewed as threats.

Other megatrends include demographic change, including an ageing workforce in some places, increasing urbanisation and globalisation.

“Having the right skills on board is essential to success for any company in the knowledge economy so it’s not surprising to learn most CEOs in Asia are taking an active role in shaping recruitment and people strategies for their organisation,” says Christine Wright, Managing Director of Hays in Asia.

“The report also found leaders want flexibility in tailoring the best approach for their company with 63 percent CEOs preferring to use a combination of buying in and developing their existing talent pool to meet the skill requirements of their organisation.”

Some of the key findings in the ECN Skills 4.0 report are:

  • More than 80 percent of CEOs believe megatrends strongly affect their organisation and most believe new skills are required to ensure their business responds effectively.
  • While climate change and industry convergence are most often seen as threats, only four percent of CEOs feel totally prepared to tackle industry convergence and six percent to deal with the challenges presented by climate change.
  • 72 percent of CEOs feel soft skills are more important than hard skills for their business. Certain hard skills such as data analytics were seen as important but possessing adequate soft skills are now seen as critical.
  • When it comes to skills management, more than 60 percent of those surveyed believe they are keeping up with their peers or are even ahead of the curve while 40 percent feel their company is struggling or still at an early stage.
  • Only five percent of CEOs surveyed have absolute confidence in the skill training structures in place at their organisation with a quarter unsure if their company has the right frameworks in place.

Here are top five recommendations for leaders to help make strategic talent and skills management decisions:

  • Provide soft skills training even to the organisation’s most senior managers: 72 percent of the CEOs surveyed feel that soft skills are more important than hard skills for their business currently. Research and thinking in this area is ever-evolving making ongoing training tailored to time poor executives worth the investment.
  • Assess the soft skills capabilities of candidates: All recruitment processes should test soft skills capabilities through job interviews, formal testing and reference checking for all levels.
  • Conduct regular skills reviews and audits: Companies should make use of their relationships with expert recruitment consultants to identify trends around skills in demand, and audit their own workforce against these on an annual or even quarterly basis. The results can then be used to inform development programs and determine strategies for attraction and recruitment.
  • Set people management KPIs for managers and leaders: Working to the old business adage of ‘what gets measured gets done’, organisations would benefit from setting specific targets for managers and people leaders around skills development of their teams.
  • Communicate and report on people management targets and challenges: CEOs should report in ‘all staff’ communications how the company is tracking on talent management and skills development in line with business goals. This will help staff view skills as a hard business issue rather than something only dealt with by HR. The survey found 20 percent of CEOs still lack confidence in their ability to articulate their company’s skills management strategy.

The report further validates what we hear about relationships with major employers as the key challenge for many leaders – is developing a successful skills strategy – not least of which is the incredible time constraints experienced by CEOs. Other challenges include communicating the skills management strategy to the rest of the organisation and putting in place the right structures for skills development.

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