The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Organizations have had to rethink the way they work, leaving no business aspect untouched. Operations, HR, finances – everyone has been left struggling to adapt. As a result, the top skills organizations want from employees in the post-COVID world have also transformed.
Similarly, employees have to reassess and rebuild their skills toolkit. It’s been a desperate race to keep up with change. But, in order to succeed in this new post-COVID world, employees need to reskill. They have to get in front of these changes if they want to grow in their careers.
But what skills will be crucial to recruiters in the post-COVID world?
Before we talk about those top skills, let us first discuss what we can expect the post-COVID world to look like.
What will the post-COVID-19 workplace look like?
COVID-19 has been a catalyst for change for companies. Workplaces have transformed overnight. Working from home has become the new norm. The importance of strong employer-employee relationships has skyrocketed. Resilient organizations are continuing to optimize their talent, drive efficiency, and find any silver linings they can while moving forward.
As a result, new workplace trends have been established over the past 6 months and they are expected to continue well after the pandemic is over:
1. Increased remote work
Digital collaborations have offered organizations and employees many benefits. These include greater flexibility, new talent pools with lesser geographical constraints, and fewer real-estate costs. This also means no long commutes and increased innovation. 6-months in, most people have gotten used to working from home as well.
Let’s look at some numbers.
According to a Mercer research, 70% of companies will prioritize remote working in the post-COVID world. Contrary to this, only 8% of companies will return to the standard work environments as soon as the social distancing rules are lifted. The same report predicts that organizations may have 20-30% of work-from-home employees.
According to McKinsey’s research, 80% of the respondents said they enjoy working from home. 41% said that they are more productive than they have been before. Employees have been happy to ditch their long commutes. They have found more productive uses of the same time. Overall, they feel happier about their jobs.
Whether you like it or not, remote work is here to stay. Organizations have set up foundational structures and they will be expected to build on it.
2. Increased HR communication
HR professionals have been on the business frontlines during the pandemic. They have been creating new strategies to manage employee anxieties and maintain their morale. They are also working to minimize negative impacts on productivity due to a shift towards remote work. However, these strategies have been stop-gap measures.
Post-COVID needs will shift. HR professionals will have to reassess existing policies and transform them to suit the needs of their new workforce. This will mean revamping performance appraisal, reporting, hiring and recruitment, interviewing, and compensation and benefits, amongst others.
At the highest levels, organizations may have to reexamine their value, cultures, and rituals. As talent needs change, they will have to change to match developing people needs.
To ensure success, HR professionals will have to lead the charge in restructuring communications. HR professionals will have to train and educate leaders in new ways to monitor, interact, and generally communicate with their teammates. Furthermore, building clear and concise communication channels with all employees will be important to keep them updated on policy changes.
3. Increased focus on health and wellness
It goes without saying that organizations will need to re-visit their sick policies and amend them according to the implications of COVID-19. This includes health screenings and training on how to proceed when someone is tested positive.
But that’s not all.
Additionally, post-COVID-19, it will be crucial for HR professionals and organizations to continue prioritizing the health and wellness of their remote employees. They will have to develop and implement new communication policies and wellness protocols to ensure employees’ health as they continue working from home. In addition, companies will need to revisit compensation and benefits policies to increase emphasis on health and wellness.
For organizations to retain their human talent, they must invest in their employee’s wellbeing. Otherwise, they stand in danger of losing their most valuable resources.
“How many organizations out there culturally, at least throughout the entire organization, are comfortable with never physically meeting a person they are about to offer a job to?… You’re going to hire an Executive Director and you won’t have anything more than this type of connection with them?… Legacy leadership is going to have to get very comfortable with that idea, and I think that if you don’t get comfortable with that idea you’re going to look a little bit less than contemporary. It’s going to hurt your employment brand.” – John Rorick, the VP of Client Services at AgileOne.
4. Increased use of technology
Organizations have already seen increased investment in technology solutions to support remote work. This includes smart technologies that track employee performance and engagement and cyber-security technologies. These tools have become a part of the new norm.
Moving forward, it will be necessary for organizations to refine their existing processes as people continue to work remotely. They will have to identify and adopt new solutions to improve team performances. Additionally, organizations may also focus more on disaster preparedness and contingency planning to prevent the resurgence of the virus.
What top skills the post-COVID business environment will want?
The ability to rapidly reskill is going to be the game-changer for job seekers. Having the ability to tackle change as it comes at you is a no-brainer. But having employees who can rapidly change gears and shift to a different part of the business? Organizations will be on the lookout for those candidates.
In a conference call with the FPC National, one of the largest executive search firms in the United States, a panel of senior HR, Finance, and Operations experts from across Corporate America discuss top skills a post-COVID business will look for.
1. Top Skills Post-COVID: Interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
In the post-COVID world, having good interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence will be the difference between success and failure. This is because leaders will have to form meaningful, authentic, and beneficial human connections and relationships digitally. Those who fail in doing so will fail in meeting their targets.
57% of corporate recruiters claim that interpersonal skills will grow in demand over the next five years. Top skills (post-COVID) will include active listening, social perceptiveness, coordination, persuasion and negotiation, time management, and management of personnel resources.
Despite social distancing rules, people are drawing closer together. Teams are becoming more adaptive. Employees stay in touch with each other more consistently. Communication has become a priority in the name of working remotely. These characteristics will stay well after the pandemic is over. People who fail to adhere to these new collaborative norms will not succeed.
Regardless of their position, you should start polishing these skills because they will become the new ‘must-have’ skills from remote employees. There are many ways through which you can do this. I strongly recommend talking with HR or your supervisor to gain on-the-job training or professional development.
2. Top Skills Post-COVID: Managing strategy and data literacy
Data literacy and strategy management are two interlinked skills that are an essential asset in any establishment. These professions are expected to make a rocketing increase in the post-COVID world as well.
Of the total 677 responding global corporate recruiters, 67% say managing strategy and innovation will experience growing demand in the next five years, more than any other skill. Recruiters expect employees to be actively involved in implementing new strategic designs and tactics according to the analyzed data of changing market conditions.
No one knows what the future will bring. This is especially true of the post-COVID period. Employees will need employees who can quickly crunch data and provide adaptive strategies. These employees will be the key to success for any organization, and therefore, a high-demand commodity.
3. Top Skills Post-COVID: Adapting to a more tech-savvy world
To remain valuable and relevant during the coronavirus recovery phase and beyond, workers will need to be more tech-savvy. Being digitally aware of new technological trends that have been emerging before the pandemic, and even more so now, is pivotal.
Looking at the future, according to the 2020 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, 60% of corporate recruiters believe that AI and automation will resume acting as major industry disruptors. Individuals with digital and technological features in their skill sets in this field will be highly sought-after. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that employers will expect and prefer employees who have demonstrated an eagerness to learn new technologies as they emerge.
4. Top Skills Post-COVID: Gaining freelancing skills
A recent Gartner poll revealed that 48% of employees are likely to work remotely at least part-time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic.
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many freelancers saw their work responsibilities/opportunities increase, as opposed to many corporate business employees who were being laid off every day. What does this say about the stability of the world of freelancing?
Undoubtedly, it is safe to have freelance work as a plan B if a similar economic crisis strikes the world again.
However, what top skills (post-COVID) would a freelancer need?
According to this Forbes article, freelance platform CEOs said freelancers should develop the following skills:
1. Strategy consultants and project management:
Companies will start new projects and initiatives that will help them rebuild lost profits or adapt to new market requirements. Either way, they will be searching for seasoned consultants and project managers who can help them effectively implement change.
2. Digital skills (Programming, SEO, cyber-security):
Many businesses will reduce workers and automate processes. Furthermore, greater process digitization will lead to increased cyber-security needs. Other organizations will look for freelancers who can help them streamline existing digital solutions and improve profits. Therefore, freelancers should build their digital skillset to be ready for this change.
3. Finance expertise:
Organizations will need financial experts to help plan new cash flows and cut down on business operations facilitating loss. Remote work will bring about dramatic changes in how finances are handled. Brick-and-mortar organizations will find themselves with finance experts that can help them navigate the challenges of handling remote work and digital solutions on their financial documents.
4. IT/Software development:
Many organizations right now have opted for existing solutions to transition towards and ease remote work. However, as remote work becomes the norm, they will doubtlessly look for in-house solutions. They will seek out individuals’ skills in software development to help build digital solutions that will improve operational efficiency.
5. Business development:
Post-COVID-19, every business will focus on rebuilding the lost ground. They will aggressively seek out every opportunity possible to streamline, optimize, and grow. They will seek freelancers and employees who will partner with managers and help facilitate change. This change will include process optimization, new solution development, market growth, and improving general people management.
In conclusion, the single best way to remain relevant in a post-COVID-19 work reality is to commit to a lifetime of learning. It is not as difficult as it sounds but you should be ready to drop or upgrade your old skills whenever required.
According to the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills that are considered essential today won’t remain so in a few years.
The silver lining here is that it is extremely easy to enhance your skill set because of the endless free and online courses available. Check out Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning to start polishing your skills.
After you have worked on the skills mentioned above that are needed to compete in the job market, make sure to use my free resume cheat sheets to place them strategically on your resume.