C&A workplaces-1602732390635
It won't just be the logistics of work and workspaces that change in the current environment. Mindsets too have to make some wholesome adjustments. Image Credit: Ador T. Bustamante/Gulf News

The pandemic has resulted in a significant impact over the corporate world. Apart from the health of millions being at stake, long-term livelihoods and careers have also been disrupted.

How much will the business or economy change, or will COVID-19 have a drastic impact on talent strategies are some of the tough questions organizations are grappling with.

With virtual working becoming the norm and emergence of new job roles and employer demands, it is critical to get a sense of what the corporate landscape might look like, so that we are able to plan accordingly. Now, more than ever, making the right decisions in terms of talent management are central to how companies can reimagine their personnel practices to build organizational resilience. The importance of this can also be understood through an article in ‘Forbes’ which talks about the cost of mis-hiring... “According to the US Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 per cent of the employee’s first-year earnings; a five-figure investment in the wrong person can be a potential threat to the business”.

Finding and hiring the right people, learning and growing, managing and rewarding performance, tailoring the employee experience, and optimizing workforce planning are the five key areas which should be focused upon, for HR officers to craft a durable talent strategy.

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Assess by design

Whether organizations are freezing, stabilizing or increasing hiring, the opportunity exists for employers to reevaluate their recruitment process and make it more efficient. One way is to use talent assessment tools as part of the hiring steps. Talent assessments by design are meant to provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of an individual.

Some assessments can even provide a profile report that can predict performance and assess suitability at any position within the company. Implementation of these kind of scientifically valid psychometric assessments during the early hiring process - and their continued usage - can lead to an active employee development. It also addresses the significant employability relevance gap by identifying fundamental skills an individual requires to be successful at the workplace at any level.

Upskilling employees

While new skills can be acquired, upskilling existing employees is still important. Not only to show the support of company to their own staff and to be sought after, but also as this make a lot of sense financially. Research shows that it can cost as much as six times more to hire from the outside than to build from within. While this calculation varies significantly based on the occupation and job function, it presents a strong case for employers to consider reskilling.

Pick up on digital

Pearson’s Global Learner Survey 2020 indicates a strong need in attaining digital skills among respondents to thrive through and beyond the pandemic. More than half of the respondents said they need new digital skills because their job status has changed, with 89 per cdnt saying they need digital skills, such as virtual collaboration and data analysis.

The lack of digital skills could jeopardize companies who have not aligned their talent plans. Technology skills for instance, are no longer highly centered in IT; they need to be aligned across all organizational functions along with soft skills to achieve success. By looking at different pathways for individuals and employees to upskill and reskill, employers can avoid financial risk, increase productivity, improve employee morale, boost customer satisfaction and, more importantly, prevent loss of business.

Invest in blended

The biggest hurdle to upskilling is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for professionals to take time off and pursue full-time professional courses or formal education. With the emergence of online and blended learning, employers and employees can now bridge the skills gap with digital and virtual professional learning programmes. In fact, according to UNESCO, one-and-a-half billion students have engaged in remote learning at the height of the pandemic, showcasing an accelerated trend to online learning.

Traditional face-to-face training has proven not be very efficient in term of learning impact. We are all familiar with the ‘The Forgetting Curve’, which found that if new information isn’t applied, learner will forget about 75 per cent of it after just six days. That’s where blended learning can be more impactful where the learner get access to the online content for a prolonged time to go through it and have the time to immerse in it.

While online learning can provide a good cost-efficient alternative to traditional training and can reach a larger numbers of employees, not all training can be done online and be efficacious. The right mix between online and blended can be found while weighting multiple factors that help decide type of content, target audience, development and delivery consideration.

The present is a significant opportunity to reimagine how, and what, education and skills are required to prepare people for a rapidly changing world of work. What we essentially need is a cultural leap from a reactive approach to an anticipatory one. And we need to constantly aim to bridge the gap by understanding the needs of employers and helping individuals address those needs.

- Majid Mneymneh is Vice-President for Higher Education and Corporate, Pearson Middle East.