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How has COVID-19 shaped the talent market?

COVID-19 has changed a lot about the way we work. And one of the less obvious of these is the structure of the talent market. This change may not have been apparent to many organizations over the past year thanks to hiring freezes and deferments – but the changes are here, they’re systemic, and they’re probably going to be with us for many years to come.

HR leaders across industry will have to think very hard about how their approach to finding, securing, and retaining skilled employees will have to change following the pandemic. With that in mind, here’s some of the trends you’ll need to contend with – and a couple of pointers on how to change your strategies in order to deal with them.

Remote work is here to stay – and this is a good thing for you and your people

Although implementing the right systems to make work from home viable in the long term has been a challenge for many people-centric and service-based organizations, the transition has created a perfect opportunity. Specifically, an opportunity to rationalize operations and recruitment strategy by taking advantage of talent where it already is, rather than waiting for it to come to you.

With teams now remote-as standard for many organizations, remote recruitment and talent management is the next logical step. “Talent mobility” as it’s called means recruiting teams across different countries and regions to create an organization that’s truly global – further breaking down one of the last frontiers of operational silos. Technology is a big part of making this possible – both in terms of keeping global teams in touch through collaboration engines, and ensuring the organizations stays in line with the regulatory requirements of a multitude of different authorities and governments.

The talent market is now a seller’s market

Perhaps unexpectedly, COVID has served to accelerate the trend towards people having more choice in who they work for, how they work for them, and the salaries they can command.

Although this trend has been slowly proliferating through various sectors since late 2015 – and the initial months of the pandemic saw a sharp downturn in the jobs market – skilled employees are likely to be the long-term winners as organizations scramble to re-hire positions they’ve been forced to lay off and struggle to identify new hires for deferred vacancies and radically shifting skillsets.

With the talent calling the shots, your organization will have to create a strategy of engagement that starts well before the hiring process – and that helps to brand you as an employer in which people will want to invest their time and skills.

Skills gaps remain a pressing issue

Many people-centric organizations expected to experience problems related to skills gaps prior to the events of 2020. Now, as the need for emerging skillsets like data science and advanced analytics grows, leaders expect they’ll be facing the skill gap much sooner than they previously predicted.

Skill areas where gaps exist are difficult and expensive to recruit for thanks to an overall shortage of talent. The obvious remedy is upskilling your own training systems in order to grow talent in house. This will become especially relevant as more traditional skillsets become obsoleted thanks to major shifts in technology caused by the ongoing movement of enterprise systems to the cloud, and by more fundamental changes in the nature of the way we work.

More people are free agents than ever before

The traditional workforce is continuing to transform. In areas where talent is at a premium – and skilled people are increasingly empowered to pick and choose whom they work with – organizations are being forced to accept the reality that long-term company loyalty is no longer a realistic prospect. This means the definition of “team” is changing. Whether it’s shifting to a project-based approach to hiring, or a more flexible approach to working hours, HR leaders need to become more agile in their approach to hiring and retaining people – and to accept terms that they may never have accepted before as they bring new talent on board.

How can Unit4 help you navigate this new talent reality?

Unit4’s ERP, FP&A, and HCM solutions work together as part of our People Platform to help you manage every aspect of the employee lifecycle. From attracting and identifying the right people to keeping them happy, engaged, and productive, managing their skills development and training, to their onward journey. To get an idea of what our systems are capable of, check out our dedicated HCM product page or click here to book a demo.

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