Are SMEs ready to attract the workforce of the future?

Are SMEs ready to attract the workforce of the future

Have you ever wondered how the jobs of the future would look like? With automation and artificial intelligence (AI) picking up pace, we are now on the verge of what is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Driven mostly by technology, we are experiencing major developments in the way we work and live. And although this new revolution creates brand new industries, business models and employment opportunities, it is also disrupting almost every industry in every country.

As the workforce and jobs of the future change, so will the definition of ‘talent’. What may be defined as ‘talent’ ten years ago may no longer be applicable today, not to mention five years from now. With that, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also seeing the need to rethink their strategies to stay resilient in their competition for the right talent.

So how can SMEs be ready to attract the workforce of the future?

1. Invest in technology

In the past, SMEs are known to be rather cautious in adopting new, cutting-edge technologies. However, in a recent study on ASEAN SME conducted by United Overseas Bank, EY, and Dun & Bradstreet, 60% of ASEAN SMEs surveyed are keen on focusing their investment on technology solutions. This comes as no surprise as jobs of the future depend very much on technology. The survey found that SMEs today are showing higher interest in adopting new disruptive technologies such as robotics process automation, AI and 3D printing.

2. Adopt a digital marketing strategy

It doesn’t take a genius to know that social media is the way forward in attracting the workforce of the future. Majority of us spend so much of our free time on social media channels, making it easier for companies to promote their company cultures and interact with us. Social media gives you immediate, direct access to a large number of potential talent, including those who may not be proactively looking for a job. The best part is, most of these platforms are free, keeping the cost of your business low.

3. Target specific talent

As much as young people need jobs, businesses too, need young people. If larger corporations are hiring older professionals, you should consider focusing on hiring the young. Hiring young people may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, there are reasons as to why you should consider investing in them. First, they bring fresh ideas and fresh perspectives into your workforce. Second, they are less demanding when it comes to wages compared to older professionals. Last but not least, they are the digital natives and can be the answer to future-proofing your business.

4. Diversify your workforce

In the past, diversity in hiring is commonly seen as hiring more women and minorities. Today, it means hiring talent from outside your industries and people with different backgrounds to bring fresh new perspectives and ideas into your business. There are other ways you can boost diversity in the workplace. One way is to establish a meritorious hiring practice that is neutral in terms of age, race, minority and gender. Another way is to foster a work culture where leaders are developed from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, age, race or religion.

5. Invest in learning and development

Regardless of the size of your company, an investment in upskilling is always essential to ensure your employees’ skills are up-to-date and relevant. What more when the pace of change in technology is unstoppable. By fostering an agile work culture, you are also able to boost the attractiveness of your company and continue breeding digital talent, capable in overcoming any digital transformation. In addition, SMEs must learn to embrace new technological enablers that can help to enhance and differentiate their products and services.

With automation and AI evolving so rapidly around us, the only way SMEs can future-proof their businesses and attract new talent is to embrace technology and build on a culture of excellence. No one can predict the outcome of the future but we know one thing for sure, it’s never too early to plan ahead and the ones best prepared are always the ones who will succeed.


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