Conflicting expectations of workers and the workplace

Companies in Turkey must navigate more and more in the choppy waters of a complex global economy, and position themselves to attract and retain the workers they will need on this journey.

As PDR-HR, a member of PDR Group –a company that has trained around 700.000 people from more than 3.000 companies in the past 27 years- we know how our clients have been facing several challenges from both the changing of workforce and from the changing nature of work itself. We also know -from thousands of human resources executives we have worked- what challenges HR managers have been facing to get ahead of the game by understanding these major future demographic, technological and societal shifts in Turkey and globally, and then preparing themselves accordingly.

We also know, as the business world has changed, so has the role of HR professionals from a coach to counselor, from employee advocate to business strategist, because since human resources is a business-driven function, effectiveness depends on a thorough understanding of the strategic corporate direction, as well as the ability to influence key policies and decisions.

Today HR departments and HR executives have the toughest job to manage and play the appropriate role at the crossroads of conflicting expectations of workers and the workplace.

As a HR Executive, you have to:

Adapt to a rapidly changing worker profile

With hundreds of millions of people predicted to pour into the Turkish workforce in the coming years, and temporary and part-time workers a significant and seemingly permanent fixture, your companies need to adapt further to a new breed of employee. When you add the issues of a multi-generational workforce and growing cultural diversity, it is no surprise that people management is cited to be by far the most substantial challenge facing as a HR executive over the next five to ten years,

You will need to manage the successful transfer of experience and knowledge to younger generations at the outset of their careers in your company. If demand continues to outstrip supply for certain positions, you will also need to rethink how to hire junior workers into positions requiring more tenure and experience, and determine what additional training will be necessary.

You know preparing the world’s youth for the workplace will certainly present challenges. The skills and education of the millennials in the workforce must always be relevant and attractive to employers. And we know how it is difficult to cope with this problem in Turkey where the government, companies and educational institutions are far ahead to create solutions that reform the educational system, and prepare the future workforce for employment opportunities.

Understand the subtleties of workers’ qualifications

As the definition of work continues to evolve, the range of skills that employees need have not necessarily been provided by traditional educational systems. In almost every survey, executives reported that the current disconnect between the skills fostered by education and those they actually need will represent a very considerable obstacle in the coming years, which makes it difficult for you to assess applicants’ qualifications properly.

The lack of advanced soft skills appears particularly acute in Turkey, causing concern to many companies seeking a rapid either a regional or global expansion. We know that many of our clients are suffering from “limited creativity in overcoming challenges” as a primary shortcoming among candidates, 

In other words, as a HR executive you will do your job by overcoming shortages of technical and engineering skills on the one hand, and soft skills on the other.

Retain and engage a changing workforce

As the demographic composition of the workforce changes, their motivations and expectations evolve too. It is imperative that HR understands what is most valued by these workers. Is it compensation, or prestige, or perhaps autonomy at work? In many cases, as HR Executive you have to adapt their incentives, benefits policies, and retention strategies for workers that are not just driven by financial compensation. For years we see that it is not enough simply to recruit able staff for an HR Executive. Companies have to make sure that their people are committed, productive, and do not leave after a short period, incurring substantial turnover costs and wasting all previous training invested in them.

This will be no easy task, either. Much of the workforce is not engaged in their work. All Surveys and our experiences show only a small percent of workers worldwide are “engaged,” meaning that they are psychologically committed to their jobs. The bulk of the working population are simply “not engaged,” indicating that they lack motivation. A substantial minority are “actively disengaged,” unhappy and unproductive and liable to spread negative attitudes to co-workers.

Generation Y, as they are commonly known, are reputed to have low organizational loyalty and are eager to make an impact. Even if these younger, skilled workers are committed, retaining them is a major challenge and as a HR Executive you have to explore varied retention techniques, adapted to the preferences of the relevant individual.

Align technology best practices to management strategy

Technology’s evolving role in redefining what work means will require firms to come up with new and innovative strategies to manage their increasingly mobile workforce. These strategies will need to help mobile workers remain engaged and connected to the wider organization they serve. With companies now engaging with a flexible and mobile workforce, performance measures will have to be revamped. Once managers prioritize outcomes, and not just productivity or process, new evaluation models will be necessary.

As a HR Executive you need to assess the most effective methods for managing and communicating with teleworkers, particularly across borders.

Manage the needs of different new operations

Despite their clear benefits and growing importance, managing remote, cross-border teams presents management challenges that the corporate world is still learning to tackle and most virtual teams are badly managed.

There are some obvious practical obstacles in running a virtual team that it cannot be left to individual managers to grapple with by themselves. They will need assistance and guidance on how to approach a very different managerial challenge from those they have faced with traditional co-located teams.

As mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity increases in Turkey, HR will also have to be equipped with the right business intelligence to conduct cultural, organizational and legal due diligence when going through the acquisition process. This means that as HR leaders you will need to expand their knowledge base and shift from being nationally focused to a more global perspective.

As other regions become more attractive for investment, companies will look beyond traditional destinations for outsourcing or operations. HR will have to get up to speed quickly on human-capital issues in these potential markets. However, given insufficient knowledge about labor markets in developing countries, HR cannot always make informed decisions. Whatever the source, as HR managers will need to find sufficiently reliable data and analytics to make sound strategic business decisions, and minimize risk.

Hire and retain talent while lowering labor costs

Large labor-productivity gains over the past few decades have not been matched by comparable wage gains. While both increased technology adoption and globalization contribute to this phenomenon, companies’ increased focus on maximizing shareholders’ value has also been a substantial factor. Furthermore, looser labor laws and decreased union rates have decreased workers’ bargaining power.

Retention of talent will prove challenging, as employees feel that stellar performances are not being rewarded appropriately. While their employers continue to have higher work expectations, employees’ efforts are not necessarily translating into compensation they deem to be satisfactory. This is creating a challenge for HR as turnover rates increase. Finding and hiring talent will not prove any easier, as firms continue to decrease their labor investment. HR will have to continue to explore retention strategies and benefits models that focus on factors beyond financial compensation.

Companies may often prefer to have flexible arrangements with employees and avoid costly employee benefits by hiring non-traditional workers. However, developing and engaging the legions of part-time, temporary and freelance workers at all levels of the company is a growing issue for companies. As we have seen, many part-time staff, and most temporary staff, would rather be working on a more long-term footing. To complicate matters, temporary workers often find themselves in “triangular arrangements,” where it is unclear whether their organizational loyalties lie with temporary agencies or the hiring organization. The costs of less engaged staff with lower organizational loyalty—poor customer service, less attention to quality, little commitment to the company, and higher levels of turnover—threaten to be more substantial than the savings incurred by resorting to flexible employees.

HR will find it difficult to reward high-performing part-time and flexible workers, and will have to explore methods to offer benefits or incentives to retain them in the pipeline for future work. Given that such contracts often specify work outcome, rather than the process itself, there is less ongoing engagement between a manager and contractor. This makes it more difficult for managers to review work using traditional performance-review systems.