24 Jun 2020

Before it all started, every day was same for my 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter – they get up, they go to School/Early learning center, they come back, they play, finish any home work they have, watch TV, they do what has been told to them.

Now, when they wake up in the morning, they build an idea of how their day would look like. For the 8-year-old, the plan includes time to play alone, activities as a family and time to navigate through the list of activities that has been uploaded in OneNote by the teacher. For the 4-year-old, it’s the list of various activities she wants to do during the day in which I invariably have a role to play (of course there are my unsuccessful attempts to impart structured learning in between).

What changed? There was a system that decided what to do and now they have more flexibility to adapt to their needs and interests. Parents are also evaluating a wide variety of platforms that offer programs that suits the need of the child and not just the standard offerings that are available near them. You like it or not, it’s changing.

With unprecedented impact to economy and the way people work and live, Covid19 is changing the world that we are familiar with. Organizations need to embrace the changes that Covid19 crisis is bringing to the future of talent and push the boundaries to keep-up and outrun them, and be creative in solving the challenges from the past.

Faced with any adversity, we first start looking at the immediate challenges. Nothing wrong with that, that’s human nature. Often, we also go beyond, to look at the opportunities that it presents, but it is less common than the first instance.

Here is an attempt to look at the ways the ongoing crisis would change how organizations source, engage and deploy talent.

Workforce agility:
With future of work evolving faster than ever and digital disruption fundamentally redefining jobs, workforce agility is the key for organizations to survive in the future. With the change in how organizations look at talent, learning agility will become the new currency along with skills. For Individuals, it’s about reskilling quickly, skilling themselves in more than one area or learning the tricks of the trade in a related area. For organizations, it about how to make the workforce more agile to adapt to changes in the market and how you are encouraging and rewarding those that are most agile. Many organizations even today, simply look at the Market when they are in need for a new skill and also, their
retention programs today are heavily focused on key roles and current skills they hold.
Look at most successful sports teams around the world, they all have one thing in common ‘all-rounders’.

Just in time Talent:
Organizations will continue to invest in training, and it will be seen as the way to keep the workforce relevant and agile to keep up with the changing needs in an evolving organization. Smaller firms will look to leverage the increasing number of online learning platforms to train people. Either way, employees are increasingly going to look at the organization to offer learning opportunities to keep them relevant.

In the past, firms have shied away it or rather preferred to keep hiring from the market as the need comes and it has time and again proved to be the more expensive and not time efficient. ‘Just in time’ talent can be achieved through an effective system that trains and deploys people in the emerging areas and using external sourcing as a way to top up the talent needs. Organization also have to explore ways to engage better with the gig workforce in the future.

Boost to diversity:
Increased access to work from home and flexible work arrangements triggered by the pandemic, will enable more women to stay in the workforce full time or part time during key period in their career. It also helps them to get back to work without impacting their caregiving needs for a longer period as needed. While it isn’t solving the whole problem, every bit will help in addressing the gender gap. May be wishful thinking, coming out of the pandemic, hope is that the Managers are going to be more aware of and acknowledge the challenges faced by those working remote irrespective of gender.

It’s not about making work from home a permanent state in order to save cost; but should be seen as a way to promote equality through providing equal access to work. Of course, organizations should continue focus on equality and equity and be intentional about it in any initiatives that they are driving.

Organizations can experiment with creating exclusive projects with majority remote workers in it (Nurseries that creates an environment where they can thrive) and further redeploy them in the other parts of the organization there by expanding the model. The more diversity an organization has, the more the ability to further improve it. It’s all about how you make the system self-sustaining over a period of time.

Inclusion:
Remote working can open a whole new set of opportunities for Person with Disabilities. Organizations should take this as an opportunity to continue the experiments in this area. Organizations have overcome several challenges that stopped them from allowing telecommuting in the past, but with those challenges behind us, it’s time to reimagine equality when it comes to access to work. Of course
the remote work raises new challenges for those need special accommodations, and organizations needs to be creative in managing it.

Talent Mobility:
If work from home can be leveraged to enable talent mobility in Tier 2 cities, it can be answer to the skill gap that’s faced in cities where most of the opportunities are located today. Often, a lot of employees leave due to inflexibility of the organizations to accommodate for personal situations.

Covid19 is also pushing people to look beyond the cities to reside. How organizations respond to this increasing trend will play a major role in its position as an employer of choice.

Talent exchange:
Organizations are on their feet, exploring ways to cross leverage/share resources there by reducing the time taken to fill available Job. These platforms are going to re-write the rules of the talent marketplace.

Like the People+Work Connect platform created by HR Leaders from Accenture, Lincoln Financial Group, ServiceNow and Verizon, this global platform is built on the idea of Talent exchange based on the demand and supply situation. While, it’s originally created to cater to the situation due to pandemic, such platforms have the potential to revolutionize Talent Management and act as aggregators in the future.

Shared bench may also be a reality of the future.

Push to AI/automation:
Covid19 is pushing the organizations to move faster towards automation and AI solutions. This is going to change the jobs quicker than it would have been without the pandemic. With organizations moving faster than before, the aspiring professionals must quickly adapt to the changing Job landscape by adapting to newer technologies and ways of work to remain relevant.

Potential overhaul of the whole education sector is imminent in the current landscape to adapt to changing talent needs. Organizations must push themselves to join hands with academia to backward integrate better to co-create talent of the future.

Price for Jobs and skills:
All of what’s happening in the talent space will impact the price you have to pay for talent. Expanded talent pool obviously would be favorable on the supply side there by reducing the true wage inflation in the Market, but that’s just short term. Changes are expected in how organizations would link rewards to Individual performance and organizational performance. Expect the current norms on Fixed Pay, STI and LTI to evolve as well.

There are several considerations for organizations when it comes to paying people in the new normal. Do they start paying based on where the individual is residing instead which city they are working at? should reward be different for people opting to work remote? and does pay mix needs to change and adapt based on how the Jobs are changing? are just a few of them.

Employee value proposition:
Organizations need to re-evaluate EVP to remain attractive in the Market. Organizations must stay away from quantifying potential gains for employees/organizations, as an excuse to ‘take it away’, instead should focus on the gains through efficiency gains. End of the day, employees should feel that they are key stakeholders and building trust is the key more than ever. Job security and Employee benefits are back on the table as important considerations for aspiring candidates.

Organizations also need to be vigilant to identify and solve for potential new appearances of the same old problem of workplace Harassment/favoritism in the new environment.

Expanded talent pool to source from in the short term, would reduce the talent pool pressures for organizations. However, organizations should focus on the long term and must look at ways to expand the talent pool available through a combination of options at their leverage.

As organizations and people gear up to go back to work, it should not end the shift that the pandemic triggered, instead should continue the focus to keep the momentum to drive a positive change and eventually be a win-win for both for organizations and their people.

” The views expressed in this post by Noble Pynadath Poulose are his own views and do not necessarily
reflect those of his employer, Accenture”

Credit: endless number of articles and podcasts on various platforms discussing Covid19 and future of work that I consumed over
the past few months

-By Noble Poulose [Senior Total Rewards Specialist, Accenture Canada]

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