The world as we knew it changed in just a few weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about widespread changes globally. While humans were panicking because of the havoc wreaked by the disease, videos of animals strolling on empty streets from across the globe started going viral on social media.
The term ‘new normal’, that we are all hearing more of everyday, has its genesis in this new world order – one where face masks and sanitizers have become indispensable. In these uncertain and unprecedented circumstances, organizations globally had to resort to business continuity plans and shift their workforce to remote operations almost overnight, keeping their safety in mind. So, a scenario that was unimaginable until a few months ago became not only a reality but a precedent to how companies would strategize their future business and talent decisions.
Organizations are warming up to the limitless potential of adopting new-age technologies in talent acquisition. A recent report by IDC highlights the shift in IT investments from legacy systems to digital technologies and the imminent need to accelerate digital transformation.
We have encountered a new way of working from home, but is this a viable model in the long run? What kind of challenges or opportunities does the increasing use of technology create in terms of talent acquisition and management? Let's find out.
The workplace and the workforce – Future landscape
A recent report from Gartner reveals that many employees will continue to have the option of working from home permanently. As we settle into the new normal, we have begun to see that work from home is not a deterrent to productivity, creativity, or profitability. In a lot of instances, it is proving to be quite the opposite and many organizations, including ours, have seen productivity levels peak during this pandemic. Working remotely eliminates infrastructural problems and location dependency. The future workplace, however, is going to be a blend of remote and office operations. While the camaraderie of working together in an office space has its advantages, remote working options will prove beneficial for those who have constraints such as long commutes or dependents at home.
Managers, and business leaders, especially in the technology sector, have been exposed to the concept of an entire workforce being productive remotely. It is evident that the collaboration and communication tools are effective in keeping employees connected. This is a favourable step for gender diversity. Women employees who have time limitations given the competing priorities in their personal life will see more career opportunities. While work from home seems like a great option to get more women back to work, managers must adopt the right approach to drive performance and outcomes with flexibility and empathy. Similarly, retaining talent will depend on how well we are able to manage various aspects of an employee’s work lifecycle such as career growth, social needs such as connection and self-esteem. The pandemic has proven that the new style of leadership needed is no longer command and control but one that encompasses communication, transparency, empathy, and participative decision making.
Digital transformation and talent management
Companies across the globe are prioritizing digital transformation, which has huge implications for talent management. We need talent that can drive this change, be able to use it and deliver services after that transformation.
Now is the time to look for an evolved set of skills in talent, with soft skills playing a bigger role than ever before. We will now see an increased demand for skills such as learnability, adaptability, empathy, support, and communication.
Another transformation being brought about is virtual onboarding, something we will have to get accustomed to. While a few companies have already invested in new age tech such as AI for hiring, others will have to invest in the right kind of tools now, as this hybrid model of onboarding is here to stay. To replicate in-person interviews, there are new tools available that are equipped to track eye movements and body language. Also, with an increasing number of millennials entering the workforce, this process becomes easier as they are more comfortable with new technology.
The road ahead
Human Resources as a field is not alien to technological advancements. Digital transformation is more about people than it is about technology. And in HR, this translates to hiring the right talent that can make use of pathbreaking technology and derive actionable insights from data for long-term growth. Hence the bigger focus for organisations will be on preparing a workforce that can leverage digital transformation. In future, demand for digital skills is likely to shoot through the roof. The existing gap in skills can be closed by hiring from outside as well as developing the right talent within the organization. Reskilling and upskilling programmes can help employees stay relevant. This can serve as a starting point for developing a digitally agile workforce.
There is no doubt that the workplace is undergoing a multi-fold transformation. Organizations are realising that a new way of working is possible and HR teams are exploring newer ways of managing teams and talent. The ‘new normal’ is here to stay and we must arm ourselves with more than just masks and protective gear to stay ahead of the curve.