According to HR experts, the pandemic has shown that talent is crucial for performance. In the earliest days of the crisis, the HR team kept people safe while fostering connectivity and caring in an intensely stressful time. In planning for and implementing the business restart, they have been working to maintain morale and productivity for remote workforces while trying to figure out how and when to get employees back into office settings.
During COVID-19 crisis, changes in customer demand have caused a temporary spike of hiring in areas such as grocery while leading to massive layoffs in sectors such as hospitality. Even with such shifts and an overall rise in unemployment, efficient and effective hiring will continue to be important, especially for the scarce skills required for the next normal in areas such as IT.
In May 2020, McKinsey surveyed more than 190 chief officers and functional leaders across industries to find out what they were thinking about spending allocation in the months ahead. Of those leaders, 67 percent say they anticipate spending less on permanent hiring in the next 12 months.
While some of that decline is related to a reduction in labour demand, organisations are also rethinking their hiring processes more broadly. For example, given successful experiments in remote hiring during the COVID-19 crisis, companies are reconsidering the need to go on campus for interviews (which would admittedly be more difficult now, with many colleges and universities planning to use remote learning in the fall). That is an acceleration of a preexisting trend: companies such as Goldman Sachs were using remote interviewing for on-campus hiring before the pandemic.
Temporary labour, which shrank faster than overall jobs did, is poised for a faster recovery. organisations should be ready to use flexible labour in additional ways. Of surveyed leaders, 63 percent expect to spend the same amount or more on IT-staff augmentation in the coming months. The number of online freelancers in software and tech jobs has actually increased significantly during the pandemic, according to the Online Labour Index.
Digital skills are still in short supply, and remote working for all employees places remote and online freelancers on a more equal footing with full-time employees. Even in other talent categories, temporary labour usually responds more quickly in a crisis recovery, as employers value flexibility during early (and uncertain) stages of crisis. Across both permanent and contingent hiring, HR teams should take a fresh look at the range of tools, including assessments and platforms, that are making it easier to connect people to work. There are a large number of up-and-coming organisations in the pre-hire ecosystem, and innovation is making it easier to connect people to employment based on a deeper understanding of candidate skills and how those match with available jobs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a tremendous cost on people’s lives and livelihoods, and it has forced businesses to adjust rapidly to survive. In addition, we have seen “HR’s finest hour” in managing the radical shifts facing workforces during the pandemic, and it is a very great result to see how HR teams reimagine core talent practices during the recovery—and beyond.