Talent and Learning Has Changed. Now, Your Strategy Must Adapt.

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Jun 2, 2020

The past few months have altered the talent and learning landscape. Organizations have transitioned to remote, furloughed workers, mobilized others, and in some cases, completely pivoted their entire business models (often from offline to completely online offerings). Some of the changes we are experiencing now will continue well into the future. Your talent and learning strategies must reflect this.

Until now, HR leaders have been responding to immediate threats. Now it’s time to prepare for the next phase and leverage your talent to create new opportunities. 14% of companies across all sectors increase growth and margins during challenging times. So, set your vision for the coming years and align your talent and learning strategies to it.

Next steps

The focus now should be on equipping your workers with the right resources and skills to meet demand. Practically, this means that, while keeping every worker informed, up-to-speed, and engaged – it also means re or up-skilling your workforce. Especially for those organizations that have pivoted and transformed operations. The pace of change hasn’t stopped because of the global shutdown (if anything, it’s sped up because of the critical need for digital transformation).

Remote working is likely to continue as well, with 43% of U.S. workers stating that they want to continue to remote work after the current crisis has passed. 20% of their employers are already exploring ways to make remote work an option in the future. This goes beyond investing in a remote-first infrastructure, to consider new ways of engaging with workers and embedding them in your culture.

Increasing on-demand talent

Luckily, the methods you use to engage with your remote workforce will translate well with another future-proofing technique being employed by Amazon, Walmart, FedEx, and Target, amongst others. These organizations are employing on-demand workers to quickly plug skills gaps and meet short-term demands. Yet, the real value comes in retaining this talent for future upturns. People retained within an on-demand talent pool, who are regularly updated with company news and relevant opportunities, will be readily available when needed. Given the many unknowns on the horizon, having a workforce that can readily upscale and mobilize to market needs is a savvy move.

To facilitate this, a cultural shift must occur among hiring managers and senior leaders. We must move away from an ‘hours worked’ mindset to one that looks at forward-thinking metrics like customer satisfaction, project completion, and leads generated.

Improving mobility

Internal mobility will play an increasing role in the coming years as workers and employers navigate a shifting landscape. People may have to rapidly move from role-to-role based on their business’ needs and career aspirations, requiring investment in upskilling. Knowledge sharing and collaboration between functions will further increase mobility and build resilience in your workforce. If, for example, one function has demand fall (like we are seeing in retail and hospitality now), then workers can shift into other short-term roles (such as customer service). Toronto-based TD Bank, for example, has redeployed 2,000 workers from its retail locations to help handle upsurges in its contact centers.

Making the most of each worker

Over a third of organizations (37%) have implemented hiring freezes because of the shutdown. Due to this, there must be more emphasis on utilizing every worker and their skills. Particularly when production ramps-up again and organizations find themselves having to achieve more with less. To do this, HR leaders must help their C-Suite colleagues understand all the skills existing within the workforce by increasing the visibility of skills and developing a common framework for naming and measuring them company-wide. This will help leaders better understand where each worker will be best-placed based on their current skills, their developing ones, and their career aspirations.

Driving forward

Traditional talent and learning strategies are becoming outdated. They must be re-written for our new normal and for every reality that occurs afterward. Because the situation is ever-changing and your strategy will have to evolve with it. So too, will your talent. Ultimately, it will be your people and their skills that drive your organization forward. Get your talent strategy in a good place now, and you’ll be laying strong foundations for post-shutdown and beyond.