HR professionals explore the future of the workplace after the pandemic

Tom Mulwa, Managing Director of Liaison Group, Joan Wainaina, Group Head People & Culture, Paul Kasimu, Chief Human Resource Officer of Safaricom PLC, and Xetova, Chief Technology Officer of Bright Gameli, during the opening of the 1st Human Resource Management Forum Liaison Group. [Courtesy]

Since 2020, the world of work has never been the same. The workplace has become more flexible and dynamic.

Even in emerging markets like Kenya, models such as remote and hybrid working are now standard. This is happening amid the acceleration of technology and automation.

Liaison Group chief executive Tom Mulwa noted that in the early days of the pandemic, it was difficult to measure worker productivity because systems weren’t in place.

But things are better now and companies have embraced the new work normal.

“For the past two years we’ve had tools good enough to measure production. And if you look at the results of the economic sectors, even in terms of GDP (gross domestic product), the level of production has actually improved,” he said.

Mr Mulwa spoke Thursday during an engagement forum with HR professionals examining the future of work post-pandemic.

The forum, convened by the financial services company, discussed priorities and existing challenges in the revolutionized world of work.

Mr. Mulwa pointed out that the work demands of the modern talent space have reshaped how organizations think.

“Some of the policies that have been put in place to ensure a conducive workplace post-pandemic include investments in employee wellness programs, remote and hybrid work policies, and regular employee screening,” he said.

The HR industry, he added, has reshaped its role and helped employees adapt quickly to a changing workplace.

economy is recovering

He said workplace transformation is a difficult reality for workers due to rising living costs and stagnant wages.

That’s true even while the economy is recovering, growing 7.5 percent last year, compared to negative growth of 0.3 percent in 2020, they said economic survey 2022.

“Inflation was 6.3 percent last year, while workers’ average earnings rose at a slower pace. In the past two years, the purchasing power of the average worker has fallen by more than five percent,” Mr Mulwa said.

He said challenges emerging in the workplace in the wake of the pandemic included an increase in screen time for workers as companies’ focus shifted to digital.

This led to emerging trends such as digital exhaustion.

Paul Kasimu, Safaricom’s chief human resource officer, said employees are now at the heart of everything that drives an organization.

He said even with increasing automation, people are far from being replaced in the workplace and the job profiles can only evolve.

“Individuals still need to make more engagements to ensure they are driving the strategy (and) adding value to what the machines are doing,” he said.

Mr. Kasimu said challenges with models like hybrid are difficult to build a corporate culture.

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