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Mercer engages leaders on driving growth in emerging megacities

MERCER, a global consulting leader in advancing health, wealth and career recently met with thought leaders in Lagos, Nigeria, to have an open dialogue about capitalising on the growth trajectory of emerging megacities in Africa.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nigeria’s working population constitutes about 54 percent  of the total population. Thus, in preparing for the future of work, it is important for companies and multinationals in megacities like Lagos to focus on ways to accelerate talent strategies while meeting the needs of workers.

‘Employers need to lead multi-stakeholder efforts to address pain points at scale. We need to start the transformation with tangible programmes that will make an impact and change the mindset,’ said Deon de Swardt, Principal Consultant at Mercer.

He also discussed some of the guiding principles for rethinking the workforce of the future, and how this is critical in building a more sustainable business. Some of the risks associated with certain groups of employees, alongside the competencies that are being built were also highlighted at the event.

Another opportunity highlighted during the event centred on the role of artificial intelligence.

Globally, 62 percent of employees feel that their jobs are at risk because it could become fully automated in emerging megacities. Pearly Siffel, Strategy, Geographic Expansion Leader International at Mercer explained that, ‘while technology is vital, it is important to put people first. Technology is an entry point to compete, but human skills will accelerate the technology to succeed.’

The People First Emerging Megacities report is an extensive study that examines the needs of workers in the world’s fastest-growing cities across four key factors – human, health, money and work. The study also gives a critical insight into the motivations of workers against the backdrop of fierce competition for highly-skilled talent.

Employers believe workers prioritise money and other work-related factors when deciding whether to switch cities. But this isn’t the case. Most important to workers are the human and social factors essential to the quality of life. These include overall life satisfaction, security and safety, and proximity to family and friends. Although workers do rank total income as third, it is the only money factor in the top five.

The study found that employees in Lagos rank having access to employer subsidised health and wellness programmes as an important factor when deciding where to live and work. 42 percent of workers also say that life satisfaction is the top reason for them to stay in or leave their city.

Although the study’s 15 current and future megacities share some commonalities, some key differences were revealed. Based on performance against the four pillars mentioned above, the cities were grouped into advanced, progressing or approaching in terms of whether they meet worker’s expectations. Advanced cities score well in all four factors, with a small-to-medium gap between workers’ expectations and the city’s performance.

Overall, employers believe career and work opportunities, work satisfaction, and pay and bonuses are the most important to their workforce. But even though these elements may be important to attract and keep workers, businesses must also tailor their solutions, approaches and communications to the individual needs of each group to ensure they feel empathetically understood. For instance, white-collar professionals and graduates are particularly interested in career advice and thrive on interventions such as talent assessments.


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