By Jeff Herzog, President, FPC National
In years to come, we may well view the COVID-19 outbreak as the moment when the culture of work fundamentally changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has already had an enormous impact on the world of work and now the question everybody in the corporate world is asking is “what will the ‘new normal’ look like?”
That’s why we assembled a panel of senior HR, Finance and Operations experts from across Corporate America – to get a better understanding of how workplace trends and recruitment activities have been impacted and the new challenges COVID-19 is presenting us with.
To find out more about the skillsets most likely to be in demand post-COVID-19, do watch the video now:
Our thanks go to our expert panel members for their time and for sharing their insights so openly:
Jenn Ryan – SVP Operations – Xometry
Douglas Krieger – Director Global Sourcing – Herbalife
Julie Bank – SVP Human Resources – Brighton Health Plan Solutions
John Rorick – VP, Client Services – AgileOne
Steve Lagnado – CFO – Insider Inc
What Skills Can We Expect To Be In-Demand?
For professionals in the recruitment industry, the ‘new normal’ means preparing to hunt down new skills that facilitate working in digital and remote workplaces as organizations strive to maintain operations in the face of the health crises. We asked our panelists to share their opinions on what they believe will be the most in demand skills over the coming year. They highlighted the following:
Leadership skills have always been important in the growth and success of an organization, but going forward, it is anticipated that they will become much more of a core requirement that recruiters will be looking out for across a wider range of openings. It’s essential to understand that leadership is not just a skill for managers and team leaders.
Jenn Ryan, who serves as the SVP Operations of Xometry, emphasized how necessary it will be for professionals to hone their leadership skills if they want to excel in a post COVID-19 world.
“I’m looking for people who want to lead, not manage. We’re much more going to be outcome focused, than process management focused… In this remote environment I’m going to be looking at your outcomes.” She continued “You’re going to tell the story over and over that you’re going to confront fear. You’re going to talk about change and you’re really going to have to paint a vision.”
Opportunities to lead are more prevalent in the current remote work model as employees no longer have the in-person mentorship they might have been used to. Workers that know how to bring out the best in people, inspire teams as well as encourage collaboration, will be in demand.
- Emotional Intelligence
The ability to identify, understand and manage one’s emotions and to handle other people’s emotions with empathy is the basis of emotional intelligence. At challenging times like these, as we grapple with the reality of the pandemic, people might feel uncertain about their job and the future of their business. Now, more than ever, it is pertinent to understand that that everyone deals with situations differently. Emotional intelligence has always been a sought-after skill and it’s going to be even more so in the future.
The SVP Operations of Xometry, Jenn Ryan, also gave us her opinion as to why having empathetic and emotionally intelligent leaders will be vital to companies in the new working world.
“One of the things that can be such an Achilles heel especially in leadership is [that] sometimes we want to tell people how they feel or we want to wrap it up. Each person has had a unique experience – our partners, our suppliers, our clients and our associates. People have had different experiences and [going forward] we’re going to really want to listen. I’m going to be looking for leaders that are able to listen with empathy.”
That said, the adjustment is as difficult for workers as it is for employers which is why it is necessary that the people in leadership positions are empathetic towards the plight of those in their team who may be struggling to adjust.
The pandemic took everyone by surprise, forcing workers to adjust to a new culture of work within a short period of time. This is a delicate time for employers and employees alike and recruiters will be on the look out for leaders who can find a balance between empathy and proactivity, without being too aggressive. Leaders who can find that all important balance will be in high demand.
- Data Literacy
Data is an important asset for every organization. With the right data, companies are better equipped to forecast the impact of future business trends and shifting customer needs and are better able to respond quickly and appropriately to evolving circumstances.
Nonetheless, data is useless to a company unless it has data scientists who can accurately understand and analyze the data to use it for strategic decision making. In the post coronavirus world, individuals who are data literate we can expect to be in demand more than ever before.
Ryan expects data scientists who can handle supply chain analysis to be in particularly high demand. She highlighted the kinds of challenges and questions that business leaders will face: “Where is everything I depend on coming from? How do you come up with supply chain equations around sensitivity? Risk modelling analysis and mitigation? We’re going to all need personnel who understand how to assess and score and mitigate risk.”
The pandemic has forced many organizations to make the shift to a remote workforce – and it seems increasingly likely that many will never go back to the way they were before, meaning remote working will become far more prevalent. However, the thing with having a virtual workforce is that a considerable number of employees are likely to use their personal devices for work purposes. This means they may be accessing sensitive applications from home especially with businesses moving their data into the cloud. It goes without saying that this increases the threat levels to sensitive data and leaves company infrastructure at increased risk of a security breach.
In light of this, Julie Bank, the SVP Human Resources of Brighton Health Plan Solutions anticipates that there will be greater demand for cybersecurity talent to ensure tight security controls are put in place to protect network devices and remote-operating models.
“Information security [will be vital] as we deploy a virtual workforce. You need to be set up to do that actively. People are going to rethink what they’re doing to protect their data and their information. If you’re moving to virtual, and I think organizations are going to stay that way at least a larger subset than they were before.”
- Adaptability and Flexibility
The world of work constantly evolves and skills considered to be essential today may quickly become obsolete. The pandemic, in many ways, has accelerated this process. To remain valuable during the coronavirus recovery phase and beyond, workers will need to learn to be flexible and adaptable.
Steve Lagnado, the CFO of Insider Inc. explained that flexibility is a quality their recruiting team is looking out for in all potential hires. “We look for people who are flexible, people who could do more than one thing, whatever it might be.”
He went on to explain how some employees may have problems adapting to swift changes in work culture, especially as seen with the new norm that is remote work – where many workers are struggling to be productive while working from home. In this case, Lagnado suggests that companies organize training programs to help their employers refresh their skills and remain valuable in the evolving job market.
“We’ve re-upped our training budget to address the fact that we have all these young managers trying to navigate this remote environment and they’re just not equipped to do it. We’re trying to give them the tools. It could just be having frequent webinars, it could be hiring specific one on one training for people. We’re kind of recreating a lot of that in real-time, because that’s what our people need.”
Like Lagnado, Julie Bank of Brighton Health Plan Solutions believes that organizations can help their employees stay adaptable and flexible by training and equipping them with the knowledge they need to be successful.
In all, individuals who regularly update their skills and are able to transfer their competencies from one project to another will be most valuable to companies in a post-coronavirus world.
The probability that things will go back to exactly how they used to be after the COVID-19 pandemic is under control seems low. Our workplaces are likely to change, and with that, so too will the skills recruiters will be looking out for. If you are yet to review the core skills that your business needs to thrive, then perhaps now is the time to do so. Reach out to us for a confidential discussion if that would be helpful to you in the current climate and we’d be happy to help.