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Flexibility, skills, entrepreneurship will shape labour market in 2022: LinkedIn India head

The India country manager of LinkedIn, Ashutosh Gupta writes about the trends that will shape India's labour market dynamics in the new year, and how talent will take the driver's seat

Published: Jan 10, 2022 11:41:24 AM IST
Updated: Jan 10, 2022 12:25:49 PM IST

Flexibility, skills, entrepreneurship will shape labour market in 2022: LinkedIn India headThe demand for hybrid work has seen monumental growth in 2021 as 86 percent of professionals believe the model will help them strike the right balance between personal and professional lives
Image: Ruhani Kaur/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images

Flexibility, skills, entrepreneurship will shape labour market in 2022: LinkedIn India headThe year 2021 showed us how quickly things could change and how important it was for everyone to stay on guard against an unpredictable crisis. Our patterns of work and life have changed, and people around the world are re-evaluating their personal and professional priorities. We call it the ‘Great Reshuffle’, where people are rethinking not just how they work—and where they work—but why they work. The result? We saw job transitions in India up by 107 percent in October 2021 as compared to October 2019 with an increasing shift towards entrepreneurship, and more demand for flexibility and well-being.

As these new workforce trends and priorities shape the future of work, we must recognise that talent is in incredibly high demand now, and will be for the foreseeable future—we are in the tightest labour market in recent memory, and we expect it to get even tighter in 2022. Executive teams will increasingly make hiring, development and retention of talent a top strategic imperative.

Against this backdrop, here are five predictions that we think will shape the labour market in India next year:

1) Flexibility is here to stay

We saw flexibility begin to transform workplaces in 2021, but it’s only going to continue and become more normalised in 2022. The demand for hybrid work has seen monumental growth this year as our data shows that 86 percent of professionals in India believe a hybrid work model will help them strike the right balance between their personal and professional lives. Their plea has pushed 80 percent of business leaders in India to offer greater flexibility since Covid-19 began, while 90 percent agree that flexible work policies can help them tap into wider, more diverse talent pools.

Employers will continue to rethink their workplaces with an eye on flexible seating, communal workspaces and new technology such as innovative conference room systems. A proactive focus on this and new workplace policies will ensure remote workers aren’t left behind and feel included. Simply put, work will fit into life, not the other way around.

2) Retention takes centrestage

A professional’s relationship with work has changed forever. A large chunk of talent has re-evaluated what work means to them, and a tightening labour market has and will continue to accelerate this trend, putting them in the driver’s seat.

Companies and leaders will double down on retention and internal transformation in 2022, re-evaluating their benefits package, and paying more attention to educating and empowering their employees to take full advantage of them. This includes building more inclusive workplace policies and leave schedules for working parents.

Furthermore, the need for a balanced lifestyle has become an immediate need that needs to be addressed, with the workforce reaching historic levels of burnout last year. Our data shows that 55 percent of the Indian workforce reported feelings of stress and burnout as of October 2021. Companies will need to prioritise a more balanced work environment that fits within these new expectations, and offer better resources for mental health counselling and flexible schedules.

3) wave of new entrepreneurs will reshape the economy

For many different reasons, many Indians became entrepreneurs over the past year and a half. From January to December 2020, LinkedIn saw a 10 percent increase in the number of founders/co-founders in India. This rise in entrepreneurship has only continued to grow even across the second Covid-19 wave, as the DPIIT (department for promotion of industry and internal trade) states that it has recognised 16,000 startups between 2020 and 2021 under the Startup India initiative. Notably, the last 10,000 of these additions happened in just 180 days. Early pandemic layoffs created record unemployment, driving some to set out on their own while many others experienced a career reset and walked away from working for a company to go off alone.

To no one’s surprise, this has sparked a wave of innovative businesses and growth, particularly those who harnessed the power of technology to evolve their companies. Dominating our LinkedIn Top Startups List in 2021 were a string of fintech, edtech, space-tech, and agri-tech players leading the way with innovative plans for how we approach the future of work for years to come.

4) Skills needed to perform the same jobs are changing quickly

New research from LinkedIn’s Economic Graph shows that skills are evolving across our 800 million-plus global members: On an average, skills for the same job changed by about 25 percent from 2015 to 2021. At this pace, we expect members’ skills to have changed by as much as 40 percent by 2025. Jobs are changing and the skills needed to succeed will continue to evolve.

During the pandemic era, certain new skills surged in importance. As one example, skills related to virtual work and collaboration increased more than 3x year-over-year during the early pandemic period in April-June 2020. The onset of hybrid work created a need for more efficient collaboration among distributed teams, and we saw our members pick up new skills in response.

While the demand for talent remains high and puts workers in the driver’s seat to demand more out of employers, they will need to keep updating and refreshing their skills to remain competitive; and employers will need to continue to invest in their workforces’ skills to ensure they are engaged and equipped to do their roles.

Flexibility, skills, entrepreneurship will shape labour market in 2022: LinkedIn India headThe pandemic era has seen a surge of entrepreneurship, with the DPIIT recognising 16,000 startups between the 2020 and 2021 Startup India initiatives
Image: Ruhani Kaur/ Bloomberg/ Getty Images

5) Hiring will continue to move beyond degrees and diplomas

With candidates in short supply, companies are thinking differently about how to find potential new recruits—especially with Gen-Z entering the workforce. Our data shows that 51 percent of India’s Gen-Z professionals want companies to take a more skills-based approach towards hiring. Over the next year, we can expect more companies to make a shift to skills-based hiring where they assess candidates on their skills and future potential, not just their formal qualifications and previous experience. This can help them to recruit diverse talent and level the playing field for job seekers from non-traditional backgrounds.

This transition is gaining impressive momentum not just in India, but also across the Asia-Pacific region as our data shows that 77 percent of hiring managers and recruiters in APAC have made ‘competencies’ the focus of job descriptions at least once in the last year.

While we still can’t be sure of what’s around the corner in 2022, I hope that all our learnings from the past 12 months will help us stay resilient and respond to change with greater agility.   

The writer is India country manager, LinkedIn

(This story appears in the 14 January, 2022 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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