In November 2021, the Beirut Digital District Talent Development Hub collaborated with the World Bank Group to launch 'Skilling Up Lebanon,' a self-financed, private-sector-led digital skills programme. With this initiative, Lebanon's youth, workers, and children would have better access to technology and stronger digital skills.
At the moment, Lebanon's workforce lacks the skills necessary to succeed in a digital economy. Workers from all industries will now more than ever need to have the fundamental skills, as demand for digital economic opportunities keeps growing.
The Covid-19 crisis, as well as Lebanon’s economic downturn, have accelerated and showcased the importance of digitalisation and workplace transformation. But what are the current courses that have led to the reorganisation of people management processes in Lebanon?
Let’s look at the HR trends to watch for in Lebanon, to map out the underway transformation.
Top 10 HR trends to watch for in Lebanon in 2022
1. Transformation of leadership during crisis
The leader’s role during a crisis, such as the multi-faceted one Lebanon is facing, appears to be transactional rather than transformational – wherein the leader understands the change that needs to occur. Leaders in Lebanon manage uncertainties by adopting an exploratory, action-oriented approach for business survival, and creating alternative business procedures and systems. As a result, business leaders have seen themselves engaged in a lot of supervision, and organizations are seeking to set control mechanisms in place when teams work remotely.
Covid-19 also changed the focus of organizational leaders. With the need to bring employees back to the office and welcome customers on-premises, the measuring pole of trust was defined by the strict safety and health measures undertaken by the organization.
Therefore, among the HR trends to watch for in Lebanon, the strategic focus of leaders and the main organizational goal has been to put a hold on strategic plans and shift its priorities to the survival of the business.
2. Communication and staying connected
The importance of communication and string connected during the crisis was the general consensus among leadership and human resource management professionals in Lebanon. Several managers relied on frequent meetings and calls to stay in touch with their teams, whether on a personal level or an institutional one. The use of technological tools for internal and external communication received a lot of attention (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, and Social Media channels among others).
Communication was essential for managers and leaders to make sure that workers were working towards the same goal. This helped in reducing ambiguity and supported their efforts to continuously asses an evolving situation in a controlled environment.
Communication plays an important role in motivating and engaging employees, primarily because it is the only way to know what they are concerned about, and creates trust between employers and employees.
Along with the use of more communication tools such as social media networks, in these HR trends to watch for in Lebanon, communication with employees had changed more positively. Employees communicate about their problems more than before and leaders respond to these crises with care and empathy.
3. Engagement as a means to showcase empathy
The quality of conversations that leaders started having with their team had noticeably improved, content became in-depth, and interactions were characterised by more interpersonal care and more team engagement.
And in line with the previous point, “listening” was adopted by managers who made sure to dedicate time to the team members and embrace their active listening skills.
Additionally, engagement was used to demonstrate empathy. Leaders attempted to understand the emotions of their team members and generally acknowledged the fear of uncertainty that was evident. Among the HR trends to watch for in Lebanon, the implementation of new HR policies and procedures, as well as tools to facilitate remote working and work-life balance, increased flexibility.
4. Empathising with employees on a personal level
Although the priority in Lebanon was on business continuity and a pure business point of view, HR leaders focused on the role of empathy as a key element to apprehend employees’ emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Employees are encouraged to communicate their stressors so they have a sense of solidarity and feel supported in the workplace. In some instances, employers even showed an understanding of employees’ needs, preferences, and circumstances when it came to working arrangements.
5. Maintaining positive workplace relations
Managers' motivation strategies were dominated by hygiene factors, which included job security, salary, working conditions, and paid insurance, among others.
Employee purchasing power had been significantly reduced as a result of hyperinflation and the deterioration of the Lebanese currency, and poverty rates had risen across the country. Managers in this situation believed that providing employees with job continuity and salary stability was the most effective motivator.
Leaders and workplaces were sensitive to the economic struggles and survival of their employees, and therefore the reassurance of job continuity took centre stage in their motivation approaches during the crisis, in these HR trends to watch for in Lebanon.
6. Business continuity and efficiency
The HR management and leadership in Lebanon have been a reflection of the country's current circumstances, which are marked by ongoing economic and social decay that has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. Leadership in this case placed a strong emphasis on efficiency and business continuity.
Concerns about business continuity, as well as concerns about efficiency and performance, drove human resource management approaches and constituted the HR trends to watch for in Lebanon.
7. Concern for the welfare of employees
The ultimate goal of the rigorous Covid-19 policies that have been implemented across all organizations was to create a safe environment and to protect people and communities. Investments were made in Covid-related tools and systems, such as the use of sanitizers, face masks, social distancing, PCR tests, and temperature checks. Most organisations also worked to secure vaccinations for their teams in order to resume normal operations.
Some employers provided yoga classes and sporting events, while others permitted working mothers and people with chronic illnesses to do all of their work from home.
Following the suggestions of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health, new safety regulations were adhered to when dealing with customers.
8. Capacity development and training
To put it succinctly, training and development were not regarded as priorities in the Lebanese workplace; training programmes were primarily focused on coping with COVID-19 rather than personal and career development. Because of the novelty of the situation, managerial efforts were effectively directed at ensuring the survival and growth of the company.
Training programmes were initially uncommon and primarily concentrated on coping with COVID-19 rather than on personal and professional development. Companies may have overlooked talent development due to a fear of losing talent rather than retaining it.
In fact, there has been a significant brain drain as a result of the crisis; more than 20% of doctors and roughly 40% of university professors have already left, and nearly 80% of young people are actively attempting to leave the country.
9. The importance of team building
Team building has also been identified as an important factor by leaders and human resources. While encouraging teamwork may not have been everyone's goal, many leaders understood its value and worked to overcome the individualistic work that the online world had imposed by forging connections between team members.
10. A different approach to employee motivation and employee satisfaction
Finally, the crisis context in Lebanon flips the commonly accepted context of employee motivation and satisfaction on its head. The conventional wisdom holds that while hygiene factors, if subpar or unfulfilled, result in dissatisfaction, motivational factors are intrinsic in nature and lead to job satisfaction.
These claims, however, are not supported by the professional realities of Lebanese workers in the current crisis context, as extrinsic factors like pay and job security appear to function as powerful motivators used by leaders in these trying times, turning it into one of the HR trends to watch for in Lebanon.
The Lebanese crisis has been a health crisis exacerbated by the country's massive economic decline. It represents a systemic existentialist threat and demonstrates how established theories of effective leadership and motivation lose their explanatory power in such circumstances.