2021 Trends: Reskilling, Remote Work, and More

Since COVID-19 hit, nearly 70 percent of business leaders report team morale has plummeted, with almost 40 percent acknowledging a reduction in productivity as a result. The global pandemic has impacted businesses and employees alike, forcing both to evolve in order to stay afloat. It’s those that manage to evolve together that are most likely to find ways to thrive in 2021—which is exactly why HR managers need to be paying attention to these talent management trends.

Reskilling and Upskilling

Most companies simply don’t have the resources necessary to focus on hiring right now. They’re too busy stretching budgets and adjusting to entirely new ways of doing business. Meanwhile, employees filling current roles are finding their previous job duties either obsolete or infinitely less valuable. Anxious to keep their jobs and solidify their places within the companies they are currently working for, many are eager to take on new tasks—they simply need to be pointed in the right direction.

This is precisely why HR teams should be focusing on reskilling and upskilling their current workforce. McKinsey & Company calls reskilling crucial to operating-model resilience in the wake of COVID-19. What businesses have right now is a pool of employees ready and willing to show their loyalty. These employees understand the brand, know what has made the business successful in the past, and likely have ideas for continuing that success well into the future. By investing in training them for the new roles required by our current COVID-19 world, companies can capitalize on the value these employees are prepared to bring.

All Talent Info In One Place

Of course, no one person could keep track of all the skills available in the current talent pool. There are simply too many employees, and it is too easy to get stuck in a mindset of seeing them as only capable of their previous job roles. With AI talent management systems, however, HR professionals can rely on automated talent profiles that quickly and easily identify the skillsets individual employees possess; those skills that may make them perfect for transitioning into various roles and training to take on new tasks.

There’s no need to bounce between employee files and complicated software systems. Companies like Censia do that work for you, even identifying which employees might be best suited for which new roles you’re now looking to fill.

Offering the Benefits Employees Need

As desperate as people are to retain employment right now, they are also facing life stressors that may diminish productivity and reliability. Companies can help counteract that by providing benefits suited to our current global situation. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has identified some of the most common and important benefit changes of 2021, including expanding virtual and telehealth programs and enhancing mental health support.

By offering access to mental health services, or allowing employees to set their own work hours when possible, businesses can help to reduce the stress their employees may be feeling. They can also further nurture the employee/employer relationship, establishing a loyalty that will pay dividends for years to come.

Remote Workforce Management

The Harvard Business Review reports that while nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce is now working from home, plenty of companies still haven’t figured out how to best manage the new remote-normal. While not all companies can function primarily through remote work, those that can and have already embraced distance working are now in a position of having to fine-tune what that looks like.

Designing and implementing a remote workforce management plan will be key to business success in 2021. Forbes suggests starting from the top by developing remote leadership capabilities first.

Prioritizing Employee Engagement

Employee retention is at the heart of talent management, and this is a goal that is perhaps all the more important in a time when many companies have established hiring freezes. You need to keep your current and best employees on board in order to remain viable in 2021. This can’t happen without dedicated employee engagement. In fact, a recent IDC survey found that companies with the highest employee engagement scores are the ones most likely to show resilience in weathering this current crisis, as well as any future crises to come.

Right now, too many companies are failing to keep their employees involved and informed. While 97 percent of SHRM HR professionals have discussed COVID-19 preparedness plans, and 80 percent of companies have a formal or informal plan in place, 1 in 4 American workers say they haven’t been told anything about those plans. This lack of communication does nothing to inspire confidence in the current workforce.

Now is the time to increase communication and build trust with employees, according to McKinsey & Company. This can be done by being transparent about current plans and involving employees in discussions of reskilling and transitioning into newer roles suited to the evolving business model.

Research has found that engaged teams have higher productivity and profitability, while also boasting lower turnover—all of which will help companies survive and thrive well past 2021.

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