What to expect from the 2019 HR Summit in Kenya

Que Rabolele, Senior Business Development Manager, Mercer. Photo: Courtesy

Mercer, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and careers is set to co-host with Zamara, supported by Rise and Learn, one of the most significant gatherings of HR professionals and other industry experts at the upcoming HR Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. This two-day event runs from 26 to 27 September 2019 at Radisson Blu Upper Hills.

Under the theme ‘Building an agile workforce,‘ the summit will foster discussions on how both organisations and employees can adapt to a rapidly changing world for a brighter, rewarding and more secure future.

To become ‘future fit,’ Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study identifies four top trends that leading companies are pursuing in 2019: Aligning Work to Future Value, Building Brand Resonance, Curating the Work Experience, and Delivering Talent-led Change. The report also points out that about 73 percent of executives around the world expect significant disruption, and 99 percent are taking action to prepare for the Future of Work.

In order to ensure talent is at the center of change, HR should have a voice in business transformation. More than ever, organisations need to design jobs that better deliver value by redefining new operating models as they adapt to a changing world. “In the wake of a new era of digital transformation and innovation, organisations need to adopt the right strategies that will provide a unique opportunity and platform to make strides,” said Que Rabolele, Senior Business Development Manager, Mercer. “We are at a critical juncture where upskilling and reskilling for the future is imperative.” Yet only 43% of HR leaders are redesigning jobs to prepare for the future, according to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Study.

With the threat of new competition, technology transformation and rising customer expectations as top drivers of industry disruption, it’s no wonder that a majority of executives believe more than 20 percent of current jobs will cease to exist by 2022. For instance, it was announced earlier this month that about 50 Kenya Pipeline staff were at risk of losing their jobs due to a restructuring plan. The State Corporations Advisory Committee (SCAC) also cut down reporting ranks from 16 to 12. Several companies in Kenya and elsewhere have announced job cuts as they adapt their business operating models to the new world of work in an effort to remain competitive.

A 2018 report by the World Economic Forum on the Future of Jobs also highlights the surge of new roles due to advances in technology. While skills such as critical thinking and project management remain in need, there is a growing demand for digital skills. As such the emergence of roles for data scientists, AI and machine learning specialists, Big Data specialists, innovation professionals, robotics engineers, digital marketing and strategy specialists, people and cultures specialist, to name a few. Equally, some roles are becoming redundant. The demand for hybrid skillset (a combination of data and human skills) will continue to grow incessantly as technology becomes more and more prominent across industries.

For this reason, more organisations need to rethink their HR strategies in order to stay ahead. The first step is to close the skills gap; a challenge, which remains a critical risk for companies to adapt to the digital economy.

Employers need to design a better career framework that appeals to the particular needs, wants and motivations of workers, as well as advice they value. For instance, flexible working practices, such as study sabbaticals and return-to-work programmes for new mothers will go a long way in attracting and retaining high calibre talent. In May 2019, East African Breweries Limited (EABL) announced plans to introduce six months paid maternity leave “to create a fully inclusive and diverse workforce.”

Overall, human capital is a significant contributor to long-term growth. By closing the skills gap, more organisations will experience enhanced company reputation, improved customer satisfaction and ultimately, drive growth.

The two-day event will also feature leading speakers and experienced business leaders, such as the founder of Safaricom and current chairman of Kenya Airways, Michael Joseph, Lyn Mengich, a HR strategic leader with a wealth of experience in both the private and public sector and current chairperson of Salaries Commission, Raymond Muthama, experienced HR leader and current Head of People and Culture at Anjarwalla & Khanna, Sundeep Raichura, Group CEO at Zamara, Emily Kamunde-Osoro, founder and CEO at Rise and Learn, to name a few.