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This is how businesses are changing to attract and retain talent

Employers surveyed for the Future of Jobs report have identified skills gaps and an inability to attract talent as barriers to progress.

Employers surveyed for the Future of Jobs report have identified skills gaps and an inability to attract talent as barriers to progress. Image: Pexels/fauxels

Ewan Thomson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of Work

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  • Employers surveyed for the Future of Jobs report have identified skills gaps and an inability to attract talent as barriers to progress.
  • Businesses are finding increasingly creative ways to change workplace culture, as they seek to attract and retain staff.
  • Here are four ways businesses are looking to create more flexible and equitable environments that attract talent.

Imagine working for a company that allows you to build a career without going into management. Or one that allows you to set your own salary. Or one that lets you work from a beach resort.

Businesses are finding creative ways to change workplace culture to make it more appealing to both new and existing staff.

That’s because organisations have identified skills gaps in the local labour market as the biggest blocker to progress.

Have you read?
  • The Future of Jobs Report 2023

In a survey for the Future of Jobs Report 2023, 60% of surveyed companies highlighted the difficulty in finding the right skills locally as the main barrier to transforming their business.

A chart showing barriers to business transformation, 2023-2027.
Caption: 60% of firms say that skills gaps are holding them back. Image: World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs 2023.

Crafters rather than managers

Remember when e-commerce firm Shopify did away with meetings at work? Or when it launched a system allowing employees to choose how much cash or equity they wanted as remuneration? Now the company is opening up new career pathways, so you don’t have to be a manager to get ahead any more.


“We’re clearing even more obstacles from ‘crafters’ so they can focus on what they do best: building world-class products”, Shopify’s chief human resources officer Tia Silas told Betakit.

Crafters work in a series of functions at Shopify but are not line managers — they may manage projects instead of people, like an engineer or someone in fulfillment, but often felt the need to pivot into management for career development.

”By removing the burden of management from crafters, they can now focus on what they and we value most — shipping products — while at the same time having a path to advance and grow their careers,” said Silas.

Does it work? It is probably too soon to tell, as Shopify only launched the initiative during the first quarter of 2023. But the unconventional business decision to slash the number of meetings saved enough time to equate to a 25% increase in completed projects.


Embracing diversity

Now, a new US job marketplace aims to put applicants with neurodivergent, or atypical, brain functioning in contact with businesses in the US who have neurodiversity hiring programs.

Around 15-20% of people are considered to be neurodiverse, and research indicates that teams which include neurodivergent professionals can be 30% more productive than those without, opening up a huge talent pool for supportive employers.

Sharing the profits

Founded in 1956 by a priest and his students, the Mondragon Corporation is the seventh biggest company in Spain, and the world’s biggest worker co-operative network.


Worker co-operatives are businesses owned and run by the people who work at them.

They are not particularly common, with only around 85,000 such firms globally, employing around 12 million people. But the Mondragon network is garnering interest from abroad, as institutions seek alternatives to the view that profits alone define the success of a business. They are also seen as a key way of increasing equality.


How is the World Economic Forum promoting equity in the workplace?

“We don’t have a lot of rich people — or not very rich — but on the other hand, we also don’t have poor people,” Mondragon engineer Igor Herrarte told Bloomberg.

Allowing employees to globetrot

Being free to explore the world while holding down a job is a lifestyle that is attracting more and more people. There are around 35 million digital nomads working remotely around the world, and one survey shows that 60% of employees would be looking to become a digital nomad if their company allowed it.


There is plenty of online advice to support people who want to become digital nomads, but the priorities are finding the right location and company.

It’s not all software company start-ups either — a surprising range of businesses are jumping at the chance to employ skilled people who do not want to live in one place.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalJobs and the Future of Work
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Institutional update

World Economic Forum

May 21, 2024

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