No one can argue that 2020 has been a year we didn’t see coming. Living through a pandemic is impacting nearly every area of life and work is no exception. Many of the talent predictions we thought would influence the year have vanished in the face of our new reality. In their place, new trends impacting the world of work have emerged. As we find ourselves halfway through an unexpected year, let’s take a look at how the way we work is changing and what that might mean for the future of the talent industry.
What talent trends are emerging?
Gone are the days when we debated the value of a ping pong table in the office. Now the talent industry is focusing on other areas as the pandemic stretches on such as:
Increased demand for remote work: Surprising no one, the main talent trend of 2020 has been the rapid surge of remote work. Nearly overnight, companies that never thought they could go remote found themselves navigating a virtual world and the workforce has reacted accordingly. LinkedIn reports that there’s been a 60% increase in remote job searches since March with 2.3x the number of applications coming through for open postings. For employees already within a work from home role, a recent survey found that nearly 70% of US workers say they’d like to stay remote to some extent even post-COVID. Remote work has opened up new possibilities for employers and employees alike and will probably be the most long-reaching consequence of the pandemic on the talent industry.
A new talent pool: The way companies are filling their open roles is changing too. Before COVID-19, a search for new talent probably consisted of some job postings and a few rounds of interviews before a decision was made. But in a world where contact needs to be avoided, companies are shifting how they find talent. Trends here seem to break into two camps. The first is focusing on internal hires more than external recruitment. When you can’t go out and meet new people, look to what you already have within the company and see if there is room to groom an internal talent pipeline. The second group is taking a more global view of the sudden influx of talent. As companies find new ways to go remote, and in some cases stay that way, it’s opening up the potential for finding strong professionals in other regions. With an increase in talent flooding the international markets due to layoffs and uncertainty, savvy employers are taking advantage of a global pool of candidates.
Focusing on culture and employee engagement: One positive trend we’ve seen coming up throughout the pandemic is a new focus on employee well-being and motivation. Often this is addressed through managing employee engagement and what to do if it drops on a team. Company culture has also been thrown into the conversation as a way to improve engagement and keep your employees on track from a distance. Before the pandemic, culture often got a lot of lip service as something every company needed but few were really knocking out of the park. Now culture had become a vital way of unifying a remote workforce. As the months at home go on, we’re starting to see a rise in employers actively engaging in growing their culture by design, rather than by accident, in an effort to support their employees more effectively.
Virtual hiring: In the initial months of the pandemic, many companies saw a hiring freeze as we waited to see how things would unfold. But you can’t push pause forever and as countries began opening up, the talent industry saw an increase in open positions on the market. Hiring in a socially distanced world, however, is not the same as it used to be. Now hiring managers and HR professionals are turning to online hiring, leveraging video conferencing tools to meet their candidates remotely. Trying to bridge the distance through a screen requires a different approach that might include changing your interview structure, adjusting your hiring speed, leveraging tests or assessments to provide insight, or using a new piece of technology.
Remote onboarding: As we see a rise in hiring activity, there is a corresponding need for remote onboarding. Like hiring, you can’t just use the same approach you would have before the pandemic and expect the same results. Instead, managers are searching for virtual onboarding strategies and ways to set up their new hires from a distance. One of the biggest challenges facing new employees right now can be isolation which is not a typical factor in regular onboarding. We’re starting to see a shift away from a heavy learning focus in onboarding toward a balance of instructional time and social video calls to connect the employee to their remote team. Onboarding is not just about material anymore but about building the connections that can sustain an employee working alone.
What will the future of work look like?
What impact will 2020 have on the world of work in the months to come? It’s hard to say what trends might endure and which will fade when companies head back to the office. Some of the knowledge we’ve gained in the past few months will make it impossible to put the genie fully back in the bottle again. Jobs we thought couldn’t happen remotely can. Technology we thought wasn’t possible is. A tumultuous year is leading to rapid change and it’s being felt across the talent industry. News ways of doing things opens up new potential and while we might not know what the next few weeks or months will bring, there’s no changing the fact that the pandemic will leave a lasting impact on the way we work.