After the turbulent year we’ve been through, we’re all hoping that 2021 will see life get back to normal and the economy flourishing once more. But what will “normal” look like, and how will the events of 2020 affect the way we work going forward? The pandemic has thrown up many questions, both for us as individuals and business leaders looking to adapt and embrace new opportunities. I’m looking forward to discussing some of these questions at DiversityQ’s inaugural Talent Acquisition and Retention Summit on March 23rd.
The past 12 months have demonstrated how vital it is that industry addresses questions of equity and belonging, employee wellbeing and the need to upskill. If you’re thinking about how this might impact your business, these are some of the key considerations for 2021 and beyond:
Upskilling: unlock the talent you already have
With a yawning digital skills gap that traditional channels of education are struggling to close, many businesses are looking for alternative ways to get the talent they need, particularly when it comes to tech skills. However, for many organisations, the answer lies close to home.
In the past year, businesses have become more dependent than ever on digital solutions to help them adapt, and the sector desperately needs new blood to meet this demand. When there’s not enough talent to meet the demand for emerging tech skills, upskilling existing employees and building an internal knowledge base, rather than hiring new staff, can be a great fix.
Internal upskilling will become an increasingly essential tool for businesses looking for the skills they need. This will have a knock-on effect on internal mobility and could, in turn, increase general job satisfaction and retention rates.
It’s a strategy in which the UK Government clearly sees value. As part of the 2021 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced funding for a “Help to Grow” scheme to offer leaders within SMEs MBA-style management training. Businesses using the scheme will also get access to tech advice and discounted software to help close the digital skills gap and boost productivity.
The skills employers need are changing fast, so taking advantage of this kind of training is essential, given the pressing need to reskill our workforce. Removing barriers for people looking to break into new roles or change careers is vital; providing flexible, accessible, and self-directed learning for employees can help plug the growing skills gap.
Embrace the new working day norms
Remote work is here to stay; embrace it if you want to compete for the best talent.
The pandemic forced even the most remote-sceptic businesses to rollout home working and, though we might not be ready to close the doors on offices permanently, research has found that the vast majority of businesses that can offer remote working will continue to do so, even after society reopens.
As remote and flexible working becomes commonplace, businesses that offer a range of options to employees will put themselves ahead in the race to attract high-quality professionals. Not everyone wants to flock back to the office, and not everyone wants to work at their kitchen table full-time—that’s why choice is essential. In 2021, candidates will be looking for roles that offer flexibility and trust, so they can decide what a good work-life balance looks like to them. It’s not enough to accept these new norms if you want to compete; you need to champion them.
Champion equity in order to thrive
Nurturing diverse talent and creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace has long been a priority for many businesses. But, after a year where social justice was kept firmly in the spotlight, businesses can expect to see Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion become a core focus.
And why wouldn’t companies want to do the work here? Not only is it the right thing to do, but it fosters diversity in your workforce. Which, in itself, has countless benefits, including increased productivity, greater innovation, and access to a greater quantity and quality of candidates.
Supporting remote and flexible work can help businesses achieve their ED&I goals. Promoting these policies makes you more appealing as an employer and opens up new streams of talent for your business. Offering flexibility removes the barriers that prevent many applicants—particularly women who bear the brunt of unpaid domestic labour and care work—from joining your business. Plus, empowering people to work when and where they want allows you to recruit talent from anywhere in the world.
Moving away from established hiring methods will become increasingly valuable too. Partnerships with schools and colleges are already common with companies looking to build their talent pipelines. We’re likely to see similar strategies with user groups, clubs, and sector networks, as businesses seek to tap into new pools of candidates. With skill shortages growing and traditional channels of education struggling to keep up, businesses will need to branch out and source people in more innovative ways, such as supporting (or even founding) groups that help people upskill in their industry.
You can hear more from Zoë at the Talent Acquisition & Retention Summit on 23rd March 2021. You can view the full agenda and register for your free place here.