The power of personal branding: Kelly Lundberg's evolution as a branding expert

Today, we delve into the world of entrepreneurship and personal branding with a true luminary in the field. Meet Kelly Lundberg, a seasoned business mentor, personal branding expert, athlete branding strategist, and style expert, whose passion lies in nurturing dreams and achieving goals.With an impressive track record spanning two decades and over 15,000 hours of mentoring experience (yes, that's right, she's been honing her craft since the Gucci-clad days), Kelly is more than just a mentor – she's a catalyst for success. Her mission is to empower entrepreneurs to not just thrive but to dominate in the digital marketplace. Kelly's expertise lies in creating that indispensable space in the digital arena, where entrepreneurs can amplify their value, personal brand, and profits. She's the voice of reason, the motivator, and the strategic guide that every ambitious entrepreneur needs on their journey to success.In this exclusive interview with Adgully Middle East, Kelly Lundberg, brand strategist, business mentor, talks about her journey of more than two decades, with many successful roles she played. She talks about being a brand strategist and business mentor. Whether it's saving time, providing invaluable insights, or simply being the driving force behind your business and life goals, Kelly Lundberg has the tricks up her well-tailored sleeve to make it happen.Kelly Lundberg is synonymous with style. What inspired your diverse career journey, spanning from celebrity stylist to business mentor to brand strategist? Could you share insights into your path toward becoming a brand strategist and the motivations driving this career choice?Style has always been more than just clothes; it's about confidence and the transformative power of self-expression. Style has been a huge part of my life, helping others feel more confidence in the clothing they wear and the impact it has on them. Over the past 20 years I have witnessed first-hand the profound effect that personal branding can have on an individual's confidence and success.I recognised that there are a number of elements beyond clothing that contribute to a strong personal brand. Over the years, I saw as I not only developed my own personal brand, that there are so many other elements to feeling good about your brand, and styling is just one element to this.In many ways, the transition to brand strategy is a natural extension of what I was already offering, but now I have found a means to expand a reach and help a broader audience. With the ability to help more people with not only their business if they were an entrepreneur, but also climbing the career ladder and the importance of your personal brand too. There is a huge amount of interconnectedness of style, personal branding, and professional success.What do you consider to be the essential qualities and skills for a successful brand strategist and business mentor?I would say a successful brand strategist and business mentor should possess the ability to envision the big picture; but not only that, but to have first-hand experience of building their own brand and/or other clients with results. A creative mindset to think outside the box and devise innovative solutions. I massively believe in ongoing learning and professional development. The ability to stay abreast of industry trends, attend conferences, and seek out opportunities to expand knowledge and expertise that you can also share with clients.Can you recount a challenging brand strategy issue you've faced in your career and how you navigated through it to find a solution?One of my client's challenges stemmed from a lack of visibility and differentiation in a competitive job market. Despite her impressive credentials, she was struggling to stand out among other candidates and capture the attention of potential employers, facing many rejection emails. Through the creation of, the development of an authentic video reel, and strategic promotion efforts, together we successfully revitalised the client's personal brand and created new opportunities for her in the job market. Read the full story in my new book ‘Deseed The Lemon, Elevate Your Personal Brand One Pip At A Time’ which is out in March!How do you keep abreast of the latest trends and shifts in the branding industry? Could you highlight a particularly effective brand strategy you've crafted and discuss the factors contributing to its success?As a firm believer in investing in experts and continuous learning, I employ various strategies to keep abreast of the latest trends and shifts in the industry, recognising the value of learning from industry experts who offer valuable insights and expertise. Whether through online courses, workshops, or mentorship programs, I seek opportunities to learn knowledge from other professionals. Innovation is also at the heart of effective branding strategies. By embracing new technologies, tools, and approaches, I strive to stay ahead of the curve and deliver innovative solutions to clients. At a recent conference, I was introduced to a simple yet highly effective quiz app that revolutionised our lead generation efforts. By leveraging this quiz app, we were able to engage our target audience in a fun and interactive way while capturing valuable data and generating organic leads.In your client work, how do you discern their unique brand identity and craft a strategy that resonates with itWhen working with clients to craft their brand strategy, I utilise a framework that breaks the process into seven easy-to-follow steps. These steps (or slices) serve as a roadmap for understanding the client's current position and charting a path toward their desired future.The first step in this framework is strategy. During this phase, I work closely with the client to assess their current situation and define their future goals. This involves understanding their values, objectives, target audience, and competitive landscape. Through collaborative discussions and exercises, we establish a clear understanding of where the client wants to go and how they envision their brand evolving.Additionally, I incorporate an anonymous brand audit into this process. This allows the client to gather feedback on how their personal brand is perceived by others, providing valuable insights into areas of strength and areas for improvement. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the client's unique brand identity and positioning, I can then develop a strategy that resonates with their values, objectives, and target audience.By following this structured approach, I'm able to guide clients through the process of defining their brand identity and crafting a strategy that aligns with their goals. This ultimately leads to the development of meaningful connections with their target audience and the achievement of their business objectives.What role does storytelling play in crafting impactful brand strategies, and how do you integrate it into your approachI am a huge believer in telling stories; this might also be a Scottish trait too. I genuinely believe storytelling serves as a gateway for communicating a (personal) brand's values, mission, and vision in a compelling and memorable way. I love how it creates an emotional connection with consumers, fostering loyalty and advocacy and in today's digital age, where people are bombarded with messages, storytelling stands out as a powerful tool for brands to cut through the noise and capture attention.With the proliferation of digital platforms and social media, how has brand strategy evolved, and what aspects are now more critical than ever?It would be naive to think that employers and potential customers don’t frequently turn to social media and online platforms to learn more about individuals or brands before making decisions. Having no online presence can indeed raise red flags or signal disengagement in some cases. In my opinion, LinkedIn is a crucial platform for building your personal brand. To maximize its effectiveness, make sure your profile is up-to-date with current information and that you engage with the platform regularly.Are there any common misconceptions clients hold about brand strategy, and how do you dispel them in your consultations?I would say there are a couple of misconceptions, for example brand strategy is only relevant for large corporations or consumer-facing brands. In consultations, I highlight the significance of brand differentiation and positioning, regardless of the organisation's scale or sector.It’s also not just as a one-time project rather than an ongoing process. Effective brand strategy is iterative and dynamic, requiring ongoing refinement and adaptation to evolving market dynamics and consumer preferences. During consultations, I emphasise the importance of continuous monitoring, measurement, and the constant evolution of branding efforts.How do you manage situations where a client's vision for their brand diverges from your strategic recommendations?While I may offer expert guidance and recommendations, I ultimately respect the client's authority as the decision-maker for their personal brand. I strive to empower them to make informed choices that they feel confident in. I would however, present the client with alternative options that would perhaps align more closely with their vision while still addressing their objectives. I would also use my expertise and experience to educate the client about the rationale behind my strategic recommendations.

Professionals prefer UAE, KSA rather than relocating to Europe: LinkedIn

According to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, professionals in the UAE and KSA prefer working in the region rather than relocating to Europe or the USA.82% of surveyed professionals expressed this sentiment, with standard of living (46%), attractive lifestyle (35%), and opportunities for professional growth (31%) making the region a preferred destination for working professionals. This comes as no surprise as the UAE emerged as one of the most resilient international markets when it comes to hiring, with a 0.3% annual increase in hiring, up by 30% compared to pre-pandemic December 2019.Professionals aim to reclaim their careers in the new year as a significant number of them (62%) are either actively looking for a new job, or plan to start looking for one soon. Better salaries (42%) and the need for a better work life balance (33%) are the top two reasons for professionals seeking a career move.However, it is worth noting that 73% of professionals in the UAE and KSA are considering finding new homes due to rising rent prices, underscoring the correlation of affordable housing with retaining talent within the region.Skills remain at the core of the future of work in UAEThere is a growing understanding of the importance of skills in the UAE labor market, with more professionals highlighting their skills instead of degrees when looking for a new job (83%).Professionals are notably focused on upskilling, as 76% of them said that they would take on more stretch projects at work to diversify their skills, and spend more time than usual doing online courses to boost their career progression (72%).Following the last few years of uncertainty in the workplace, 84% of UAE professionals are keen to future-proof their careers by focusing on skilling.KSA professionals are confident about their careers in 202479% of KSA professionals state confidence about interviewing for a new role, and 78% feel confident about searching for a new job. This confidence stems from a significant number of them (77%) believing that their job prospects in 2024 are better than last year.More KSA women are pursuing career moves in 2024 (61%) than men (57%), citing a desire for better pay (39%) and better work-life balance (34%) as opposed to men (30%). Women in KSA state satisfaction in their current job as the main reason for not wanting to look for a new one (57%), while men said that their main reason is good salary and benefits (52%).Ali Matar, EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA, says: “In 2024, we are seeing UAE and KSA professionals taking agency and moving to the driver's seat when it comes to their careers. This will give rise to a more competitive job market, so standing out from other candidates will be more important than ever. Fortunately, we do see an appetite amongst professionals in our region to upskill and invest in building their personal profiles on LinkedIn. Highlighting how one’s skills are relevant to the job they want and staying on top of industry trends will also improve chances of finding the right opportunity.”LinkedIn has also unlocked free LinkedIn Learning Courses such as A Career Strategist's Guide to Getting a Job; Navigating Your Career Through Restructuring, Layoffs, and Furloughs and Recession-Proof Career Strategies to help professionals. These courses are available from 17 Jan 2024 until 1 July 2024.Jobs on the Rise - the fastest-growing roles and trends defining the future of workToday we also unveil our annual Jobs on the Rise lists in the UAE and in KSA, featuring the 15 fastest-growing jobs over the past five years and the trends defining the future of work.Whether it’s the rise in finance and tech roles or new opportunities in healthcare, the rankings shed light on where the workforce is heading and the skills needed to get ahead. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, these lists can give you actionable insights to help you future-proof your career and prepare for the jobs of the future.Appendix: LinkedIn’s Jobs On The Rise and Top Skills List in the UAEReal Estate Consultant: Residential real estate, real property, investment propertiesPartnerships Specialist: Strategic partnerships, business development, digital marketingMortgage Advisor: Mortgage lending, residential mortgages, bankingPrivate Client Advisor: Retail banking, credit, financial advisoryGrowth Manager: Growth strategies, growth hacking, search engine optimization (SEO)BIM Architect: Navisworks, Revit, architectural drawingsSales Development Representative: Cold calling, lead generation, business-to-business (B2B)Banking Officer: Retail banking, investment banking, commercial bankingBack End Developer: REST APIs, back-end web development, microservicesFront End Developer: React.js, Redux.js, React NativeTax Associate: Tax advisory, value-added tax (VAT), corporate taxFinancial Auditor: International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), auditing, financial audits3D Artist: 3D modeling, Autodesk 3ds Max, texture mappingChief Marketing Officer: Digital marketing, marketing strategy, social media marketingProduct Designer: Wireframing, Interaction design, prototypingLinkedIn’s Jobs On The Rise and Top Skills List in the KSAPatient Care Technician: Patient safety, nursing, healthcareInformation System Analyst: Systems analysis, information technology, business analysisBIM Coordinator: Navisworks, Revit, SynchroHealth and Safety Manager: NEBOSH, health, safety and environment (HSE) management systems, incident investigationHuman Resources Operations Specialist: HR policies, HR management, HR operationsEnvironmental Specialist: Environmental impact assessment, environmental compliance, environmental management systemsPartnerships Specialist:  Strategic partnerships, partner relationship management, business developmentProject Management Specialist: Project management office (PMO), project planning, project coordinationLegal Specialist: Legal writing, legal research, legal assistanceContent Creator: Creative content creation, video editing, social media marketingInterface Specialist: User interface design, user experience design (UED), user experience (UX)Talent Acquisition Specialist: recruiting, sourcing, talent managementCommercial Manager: Commercial management, contract negotiation, contract managementCompliance Specialist: Regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering, compliance managementProcurement Contract Specialist:  Contract management, contract negotiation, procurement contractsMethodologyThe research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 16288 White collar professionals in full time or part time employment (Excluding business owners and manual unskilled workers) across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, India, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil and the US. The data was collected between 24.11.2023 - 15.12.2023. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR.

Report unveils global impact of invalid traffic on marketing budgets

In an era dominated by automation and artificial intelligence, the prevalence of Invalid Traffic (IVT) is reaching unprecedented levels, posing a significant threat to businesses worldwide. IVT, which includes non-human traffic and fake interactions, has emerged as a marketing black hole, wasting budgets, distorting analytics, and hindering business growth.The recently released Wasted Ad Spend Report 2024 by Lunio, a leading marketing analytics platform, sheds light on the global impact of IVT, particularly in the context of paid media campaigns. The report, based on an analysis of 2.6 billion paid ad clicks and 104 billion impressions from over 60,000 ad accounts over a 12-month period (May 2022 to May 2023), provides a comprehensive overview of the issue.The Scale of the ProblemAccording to the 2023 Imperva Bad Bot Report, nearly half (47.4%) of all internet traffic in 2022 came from bots, representing a 5.1% increase from the previous year. Lunio's report focuses on the proportion of IVT directly affecting marketing performance and business revenue.Impact on BusinessesInvalid traffic isn't just a security concern; it's a financial drain on businesses. With a return on ad spend of 0:1 for invalid clicks, businesses are losing out on revenue opportunities and facing unpredictable revenue forecasts. Lunio's real-time decision engine aims to combat this issue by analyzing the validity of millions of paid ad clicks across major marketing channels.A Collaborative Approach to AnalysisTo provide a comprehensive view, Lunio collaborated with industry leaders, Integral Ad Science (IAS), specializing in programmatic media buying protection, and Scope3, the world's largest database of georeferenced emissions factors, to understand the environmental impact of IVT.MethodologyThe report combines Lunio's data with IAS's insights into programmatic ad verification and Scope3's data on emissions associated with digital advertising. The methodology details are available in their respective reports.Key FindingsThe report highlights that Google, with its proactive stance against IVT, still experiences an average invalid traffic rate of 5.5%, causing significant financial implications, especially for larger enterprise brands.Non-Google channels, lacking the same level of resources for IVT prevention, show higher vulnerability. The report recommends a strategic approach, emphasizing diversified marketing mixes to mitigate wasted ad spend due to IVT.Channel AnalysisThe breakdown of invalid traffic rates across individual ad channels, including Google, Meta, Bing, LinkedIn, TikTok, and others, reveals insights into projected wasted ad spend and lost revenue opportunities.LinkedIn's TroublesLinkedIn emerged as the worst-performing ad channel in terms of IVT, with the platform's authenticity under scrutiny. A 2022 investigation by NPR found fake profiles, AI-generated profile photos, scrapers, and engagement bots contributing to high levels of invalid activity.Empowering MarketersThe goal of Lunio's report is to provide a data-driven understanding of the threat posed by IVT and empower marketers with insights to maximize ad spend efficiency, eliminate sources of fake engagement, and reduce carbon footprints.

LinkedIn research reveals UAE professionals ready to embrace AI

According to new research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, employees are gearing up for a new way of working thanks to new advances in Artificial Intelligence such as generative AI. A majority of employees in the UAE (67%) believe that AI will bring significant changes to their work within the next year, and even more employees (72%) expect AI to significantly impact their work within the next 5 years.More than three quarters (81%) believe it is likely that AI will function as an “invisible teammate” who assists them with their work in the next 5 years.The UAE has been investing in AI long before the creation of ChatGPT and the recent uptick around AI. In 2017, the UAE launched its National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, which aims to put the nation at the forefront of AI innovation in different sectors, an initiative considered the first of its kind regionally and globally.We see this enthusiasm about AI reflected in the UAE’s workforce as a little over half (54%) are already using AI in their job, with 41% trying out AI tools like ChatGPT. The possibilities of AI at work are endlessThe lack of knowledge about AI is not stopping UAE professionals from wanting to experiment with it. Although 30% of them say they have not been provided with any formal AI training from their employer, over half (59%) want to learn more, even if they don’t know where to start. It is clear that UAE professionals are optimistic about the potential AI can bring to their careers, with an overwhelming majority (98%) saying they are excited to use AI in their work, and a similar percentage (97%) who believe it will help their career progression in some way. Most are already thinking of ways AI can help them be more productive with 82% envisioning AI to improve their work-life balance. Over a third (67%) plan to use AI to say goodbye to boring work tasks and assist in answering questions they’re too embarrassed to ask their colleagues, and 63% have progression on their mind as they plan to use it for career advice. We also know that more needs to be done to educate professionals on how to use AI as 45% of them feel their colleagues know more about AI than they do, 48% have even admitted to pretending they know more about AI to look ‘in the know’ in front of teammates.Pairing soft skills with AI skills essential for the future  Overall, the mood of the nation is one of embracing AI and people are focusing on the skills they believe will complement AI the most, which comes as no surprise as the UAE was one of the first countries to adopt AI.Professionals in the UAE believe interpersonal skills such as problem solving (66%), time-management (69%), resilience and strategic thinking (67%) will become even more important as AI grows in prominence.With LinkedIn's data showing a significant 21-fold increase in global, English-language job listings mentioning AI technologies, including Chat GPT, since November 2022, embracing AI could be a pivotal move for those seeking career development.Ali Matar, EMEA Growth Markets Leader and Head of LinkedIn MENA, says: “Just as we’ve moved past the pandemic, once again professionals are adapting to another wave of change as generative AI becomes more prominent in the workplace. In a country as technologically progressive as the UAE, where a move towards innovation and integrating new technologies has long been apparent, it is encouraging to see that also its people are embracing the shift. Even more so, our data clearly shows that workers in the UAE are focusing on the many benefits AI can bring to their working lives, including more time to focus on the work they care about and helping with career progression.It’s also clear that people are eager to learn more about AI and we’re seeing a significant increase in conversations on LinkedIn with members already adding AI skills to their profiles, but our data also highlights the enormous value of soft skills as humans learn to partner with AI– and this is what is now shaping the future of work.”Top tipsWhether you’re AI-advanced or eager to learn, taking the plunge can help you in your career and job, and LinkedIn’s Career Expert Najat Abdelhadi shares some advice to get you started: Learn the lingo: Having the language to talk about and understand AI will put you ahead of the curve. Study up on popular AI skills with resources like LinkedIn Learning where you can find the most popular AI courses unlocked for free until the end of the year. A good place to start is with How to Research and Write using generative AI, and What is generative AI and you can find the full list here. Embrace the experts and tap into your network: Reach out to your network to share learnings and stay up to speed on AI by following thought leaders and subject matter experts on LinkedIn, including Allie Miller and Greg Coquillo.Sharpen up your soft skills: Don’t underestimate the value of highlighting your soft skills in a world being reshaped by AI. LinkedIn’s AI at Work report shows a staggering 25% shift in the skills demanded by various global jobs since 2015. And with AI accelerating these shifts, people can expect a swifter transformation, with the skills required for many jobs to evolve by at least 65% by 2030. The top skills anticipated to be most in demand: problem solving, strategic thinking and time management.Take advantage of existing tools: Use AI tools already available to you on LinkedIn including collaborative articles — knowledge topics published by LinkedIn with insights and perspectives added by the LinkedIn community. These articles begin as AI-powered conversation starters, developed with our editorial team. Next, with the help of LinkedIn's Skills Graph, the team connects each article with subject experts who contribute with their advice and insights. Microsoft’s WorkLab Guides also give helpful tips from how to use AI to dominate your task list to how to make in-person time count for your team.Acknowledge your AI worries: It’s okay to feel a little nervous or overwhelmed with new technology! People felt similarly when the internet was introduced and it’s important to remember that these changes don’t happen overnight. These are long-term changes and you can do the work to be part of the change, not just be impacted by the change of AI.

LinkedIn reveals its top companies lists in UAE & Saudi Arabia

Dubai: LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network, has released its annual list of Top Companies for the UAE and Saudi Arabia.Produced by the LinkedIn News team and fueled by LinkedIn data, the list is a guide for professionals at any stage of their career, whether it’s the ones planning to change paths, those who are jumping back into the workforce after a hiatus, or even individuals seeking to enhance their skills.In its largest iteration yet, this year’s Top Companies list launches across 39 markets. The methodology looks at various pillars including how employees are advancing both within a company and when they leave, how they’re upskilling while employed, and how companies are empowering people to get ahead in their careers.Given the global decline in hiring and economic uncertainty that businesses are grappling with, highlighting these employers will help professionals understand which companies have invested in making their workplace an ideal environment for talent to thrive.Key trends observed from this year’s Top Companies list:Ascent of FMCG and retail companies in the UAE2023 rankings for the UAE highlight the growth of prominent FMCG companies such as Procter & Gamble, Majid Al Futtaim, and Henkel. Both P&G and Henkel have secured a place in the rankings for the first time, while Majid Al Futtaim has soared from the 13th place in 2021 to claiming the 4th place this year.Public sector grabs top spots in Saudi ArabiaWhile Saudi Arabia has made considerable progress towards diversifying its economy, the Kingdom’s oil and gas sector maintains its power with Saudi Aramco retaining its position as the country’s top company for the third year in a row.The following two spots also feature prominent government-backed entities, with Red Sea Global making its debut appearance, followed by telecommunications provider stc.P&G holds court in the regionMultinational corporation Procter & Gamble, which specializes in a wide range of consumer products including personal care, cleaning agents, and pet food has made a noteworthy appearance in both UAE and KSA, indicating a strong foothold in the GCC and commitment to empowering career growth for employees across markets.Lynn Chouman, Managing Editor at LinkedIn News MENA said, "This year’s list is an indication that the world of work is still undergoing enormous change, and it is interesting to see how quickly our markets are evolving with 75% new entrants in the 2023 Top Companies lists for the UAE and Saudi Arabia.Chouman continued, “This is a testament to the dynamic nature of the modern workplace and how the top industries are growing alongside market trends. Our data recognizes companies that have remained an employer of choice in the midst of global uncertainty, while acting as a valuable resource for professionals seeking the best places to work in the region."MethodologyOur methodology uses LinkedIn data to rank companies based on eight pillars that have been shown to lead to career progression: ability to advance; skills growth; company stability; external opportunity; company affinity; gender diversity; educational background and employee presence in the country. Ability to advance tracks employee promotions within a company and when they move to a new company, based on standardized job titles. Skills growth looks at how employees across the company are gaining skills while employed at the company, using standardized LinkedIn skills. Company stability tracks attrition over the past year, as well as the percentage of employees that stay at the company at least three years. External opportunity looks at Recruiter outreach across employees at the company, signaling demand for workers coming from these companies.Company affinity, which seeks to measure how supportive a company’s culture is, looks at connection volume on LinkedIn among employees, controlled for company size. Gender diversity measures gender parity within a company and its subsidiaries. Finally, educational background examines the variety of educational attainment among employees, from no degree up to Ph.D. levels, reflecting a commitment to recruiting a wide range of professionals. Finally, employee presence in the country looks at the company’s number of employees in the country relative to other companies, as a means of capturing companies that provide a diverse work environment and more opportunities for career advancement and networking.To be eligible, companies must have had at least 500 employees as of Dec. 31, 2022 in the country and attrition can be no higher than 10% over the methodology time period, based on LinkedIn data. Similarly, companies with layoffs that amount to more than 10% of their workforce, based on public announcements between Jan. 1, 2022 and the list launch, are also ineligible. Only parent companies rank on the list; majority-owned subsidiaries and data about those subsidiaries are incorporated into the parent company score. The methodology time frame is Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022. This analysis represents the world seen through the lens of LinkedIn data, drawn from the anonymized and aggregated profile information of LinkedIn's members around the world.We exclude all staffing and recruiting firms, educational institutions and government agencies. We also exclude LinkedIn, its parent company Microsoft and Microsoft subsidiaries.

LinkedIn: 76% of UAE executives worried about global economic uncertainty

Executives are forced to make tough choices that threaten recent progress around skills development, employee wellbeing, and flexibilityLinkedIn research finds that these decisions aren’t made lightly with 57% of UAE-based companies holding back on making benefit cuts to maintain productivityLeaders say keeping employees motivated and engaged is among their top workforce priorities over the next six months Dubai, UAE: As the world emerges from the Great Reshuffle and enters an era of economic uncertainty, employee flexibility and benefits introduced during the pandemic are now at risk. New C-level research from LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, finds that the current global climate is slowing down progress in important areas of working life such as skills development (93%), employee wellbeing (89%), and flexible work (76%) across UAE businesses.The LinkedIn study, surveying 2,900+ C-level executives from large companies across the world, shows that leaders are still grappling with flexible working measures. In the UAE, while 77% of executives believe that flexible work conditions will remain for the next five years at least, over three-quarters of them express concern that the prevailing economic uncertainty could push back the progress on flexibility that’s been made as leaders look to bring back employees to the office.This sentiment has already gained ground, with 44% of executives saying they plan on reducing remote and flexible working roles. There are also plans to reduce investments in financial support and professional development programs for employees (29%), as management prioritizes financial preparedness over the next six months to weather economic uncertainty and save costs (51%).This has resulted in a disconnect between company policies and employee preferences, and the difficult decisions that executives have been forced to make are taking a toll with 35% admitting to feelings of guilt over these decisions, and some going as far as experiencing imposter syndrome (36%) as their most valuable assets, their people, take a hit. Employee commitment is crucial to getting through tough timesThese decisions aren’t made lightly – with 57% of those who do not plan to cut costs saying they are holding back on making cuts to maintain workforce morale and productivity. In anticipation of challenging times globally, leaders say keeping employees motivated and engaged is among their top workforce priorities over the next six months. As a short-term remedy, some employers have sought to alleviate financial pressures on their employees by granting incentives through subsidized commuting costs (46%), or by offering direct financial wellbeing assistance (38%) to address the rising living costs.Additionally, UAE executives say that they will prioritize workplace mobility such as giving employees opportunities to move into different roles within the organization (41%) - as opposed to a global average of 34%. Employees who make an internal move are more likely to stay at their organization longer than those who stay in the same role.Leading for the timesAs companies navigate uncertainty, one area of agreement is clear - communication is critical. It’s the top soft skill leaders identified as necessary to get through this time, followed by creative thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. In fact, the soft skills of problem-solving, communication, and strategy were featured in 78% of jobs posted globally on LinkedIn over the last three months.60% of UAE business leaders believe a democratic management style to be key to increasing the motivation level of employees; a rather progressive approach compared to other key markets around the world. Thus, rather than making decisions at the top level before cascading them down to employees, leaders need to build bridges with their employees and include them in their decision-making journey. Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn MENA and Venture Markets, said: “As we have seen in the last couple of years, flexible working and learning and development have become important elements in ensuring business resilience. These policies are essential to building diverse and robust teams that can adapt to a fast-changing world.He added: “While difficult decisions undoubtedly have to be made - it’s important to remember that people are a company’s most valuable asset, and protecting their wellbeing is vital to getting through this time. Employers that invest in their people during these times will be the ones that come out stronger.”More than half of the surveyed c-suite leaders believe it is currently more difficult to adopt a long-term approach to their workforce planning, however they identified key areas that they plan to implement to increase resilience in their workforce: Gradually introduce more opportunities for employees to develop their skills (51%), open up communication channels for improvement (46%) and for collaboration (43%), and encourage mental health & wellbeing (44%).LinkedIn also advises leaders to:? Take an adaptive leadership approach - Leaders must be transparent about the current reality and adapt to what lies ahead, whilst providing employees with clarity on short-term business priorities. They should see this period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust, which will stand them in good stead when the cycle ends. ? Maintain workforce connection and trust - Today, just 43% of employers encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst employees. By helping employees to build connections with their colleagues, employers can energize their teams and strengthen their company culture. Furthermore, returning to command and control styles of leadership and dictating that employees must be in the office will quickly erode trust. ? Focus on skills - The skill sets needed for jobs has changed by around 25% since 2015 and this number is expected to double by 2027. By understanding the skills your employees have today, and the skills your company needs in the future, companies can hire or redeploy talent into growth areas. To help professionals discover opportunities that match their workplace preferences, LinkedIn has introduced new ways for workers to search for remote, hybrid or in-person roles through LinkedIn Job Search features. To help people and businesses manage remote and hybrid work, LinkedIn has made a number of LinkedIn Learning courses available for free until November 30th - including Hybrid Working Foundations, Level Up Your Remote Team Experience, and Enhance Productivity in a Hybrid Work Environment. LinkedIn has also published its Global Talent Trends report which provides leaders with insight into how labor market trends are affecting employees and workplaces.