As we move into 2021 with cautious optimism, organizations are learning to the live with the new constant that is change. For some, this pandemic exposed the inadequacies of their current structure and controls, for others, it was how the focus has shifted from efficiency to resiliency, for still others, there’s been an epiphany on how behavioral changes that used to take weeks and months could be done in days.
What’s become universal across every organization is that talent management in the new world needs reimagination. While every organization has made short term decisions to survive these last few months, now is the time to take a step back and consider the talent strategies that will be critical for sustained future success. Here are five major trends in IT talent management in this new way of working.
Virtual Offices – Three Options
After all the debates and discussions on the pros and cons of physical vs. virtual offices post-pandemic, it appears likely the majority of organizations will take the route of a hybrid model. This translates into three sets of employees:
- On-site office worker
- Home office worker
- Workers who do both
This new reality means organizations need to reimagine the talent management system and employee life cycle so no community of employees feel they’re being treated unfairly because of the choice that they have made.
Employer Brand to be Defined by How Companies Respond to Covid-19
The company brand will be impacted by how the organization responded to employee difficulties during the pandemic. Hence, any organizational decision taken today needs to be more skewed more than ever towards employee safety and employee choices. Organizations that can strike the right balance between short-term losses and long-term gains will be the best employers of the future. At Progress Software for instance, employee safety and wellness has been the key driver for every organizational decision, such as the very fast decision to move to remote working, additional insurance coverage to take care of COVID treatment, the company covering the expense of setting up home offices that mirror the office setup, and many more. Other relevant examples are the companies in which CXO staff and executives have taken pay cuts so that the financial impacts are absorbed at the highest levels, while minimizing the impact to the larger employee population.
Hiring and Onboarding – Fast, Innovative Strategic
With location no longer being a constraint, the talent pool has become global overnight. Organization that will gain an edge are those whose hiring practices can be changed to sourcing globally—quickly, innovatively and strategically. Organizations must be willing to move a much higher percentage of their population into contingent or part-time workers to tap into the best available talent. On the other hand, the pandemic has complicated the process of onboarding by making it virtual. A sound onboarding process helps a person quickly understand the company values, assimilate faster into the company culture, hit the ground running and grow a network within the company. To do this virtually and enhance the employee onboarding experience means extensive usage of technology and virtual collaboration tools, which in my view is a worthwhile investment if the organization has to make use of the three major time zones for faster delivery.
Employee Experience Defined by Demographics and Trust in Leadership
Traditionally, employee experience was tied to the various employee benefits like leaves, compensation, stocks, parties, flexibility and so on. The pandemic has shifted focus towards support for working from home, trust in leadership and company, mental wellness, medical coverage and so on, which is a very significant shift. To engage talent in such an environment, an employee demographic-based benefits approach is the need of the hour. A person staying at home with family will have a very different engagement need than a person who is staying alone in a new city that he/she has moved to for work. So, segmenting the employees and involving them in restructuring the benefits program will go a long way towards a more engaged and productive workforce. Along with this, there needs to be a definitive effort that leaders will need to put into building a connection virtually with each individual employee. Leadership visibility and communicating every organizational decision multiple times from multiple touchpoints is going to be an essential aspect of building trust and a better employee experience.
Skills of the Future – Change Management and Digital Transformation
In-demand skills have changed from cloud-based skills like Azure and AWS at the beginning of the pandemic, to cyber security in the middle, to data scientists towards the end. However, for insulating the organization from future shocks, the need is going to be those who can enable change and digital transformation. This combination of the softer aspect of being agile and flexible to change along with the technical ability to drive transformation is the skill of the future. Organizations must take time to reflect on these lines and plan their work processes around these skills to be able to survive such shocks in the future. Future leaders will be those whose core competencies are resilience, collaboration, empathy and are exceptionally good at communication. The ability to bounce back and infuse the organization with the vigor around the vision through communication across all organizational levels will be the key differentiator for effective leaders.
2020 was a year that none of us will ever forget. But like many stormy epochs, the last 12 months have spawned innovative strategies that will help organizations to not only weather future seismic changes but thrive.
(The author is Senior Human Capital Manager, Progress Software and the views expressed in this article are her own)