HUMANS ARE AWESOME
Written by: Hanadi El Sayyed
Skip the intro; it’s undeniable, we all see it, feel it and even experience it – the disruptive impact of COVID-19 on hiring and the changing nature of jobs is manifesting itself across three areas: the industries that are still doing well and seeing growth; the rise of new job models in response to business needs; and who is more likely to be employed or unemployed as the future unfolds.
Despite the pandemic and the havoc it created in the talent market, recruitment in these five industries is soaring. Some of these industries are reacting to the growth they are experiencing while others are simply preparing for growth as the pandemic subsides.
Healthcare ranks top of the list; obviously, with healthcare workers at the forefront of fighting COVID-19, the industry will need as many qualified, talented healthcare professionals as possible. McKinsey found that out of the top 15 roles that saw an increase in job postings since the pandemic started in the US, eight are healthcare-related.
Tech/IT industry is another big hirer, a no brainer taking into consideration the sudden shift to everything online. From remote work to e-commerce to infotech services, the industry is having to keep up with a massive surge in demand tech talent. In Asia, particularly Malaysia, the IT market is currently undergoing a period of redefinition in anticipation of future technology growth, marked by a rising demand for newer technologies like AI, machine learning, big data, and cloud from big players in the market, according to CIO Tech Asia. “One of the most noticeable ongoing trends is an increasing demand for digital product management skills,” states a report by Hays. “More organizations are looking for product managers who display strong technical knowledge and can also act as the voice of a product.”
Additionally, industries related to manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, and banking and financial services continue to open up thousands of jobs to workers across the world.
At the outset of the pandemic, employers in the travel, tourism, hospitality, and retail industry mainly attempted to reduce labor costs by eliminating part-time and contract roles and furloughing some permanent staff in the expectation of economic recovery. This seemed a strategic move, and one we always see in times of economic downturns. Part-time and contract staff are the first to be let go. We saw similar actions in the construction and property development sectors.
But as the recession sets in, regardless of sectors, organizations began letting go of their permanent employees, which became countering their attempts to sustain. Business continuity became at risk. This drove some organizations to convert permanent roles, especially the non-core roles, to contract positions, and to shorten contracts’ length to control their payroll better. A recent Gartner survey, for example, revealed that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure.
The post-pandemic world is seeing a change to conventional currently applied workforce planning models, in response to business needs, from workforce planning to planning work. HR leaders will need a new lens on workforce planning to look at work from a task perspective rather than the traditional job, and as a result, leverage the rise of nontraditional work to drive organizational productivity. In an article published in myHRfuture, one of the four identified emerging strategic workforce planning trends is focusing on tasks and not jobs. The article explains “that the highest ROI on talent investment will come from redesigning jobs, moving away from the concept of job roles to focus on the tasks that make up a job in order to deliver greater value for the organization and the individual.”
Integrating gig and contingent employees as part of planning work needs to become part of every HR leader’s world and must be demanded by business. Utilizing contingent employees transcends the salaries and benefits cost-saving component. It provides employers with greater workforce management flexibility, gives them access to a broader pool of expert talent, and brings them closer to building a more agile workforce.
“Traditional approaches to workforce planning aren’t built to cope with the realities of the evolving work environment. HR leaders need to redesign their workforce planning around work instead of people, and capabilities instead of capacities.”
Matthias Graf, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner
The story doesn’t end here.
Breaking the convention in planning work opens doors to future non-standard job models, for example, where only a very few core roles are kept as permanent (such as R&D) while the rest of the work is done through contingent, gig, and fractional workforce, ultimately pegging pay to work done. Another example of a non-standard model is where an organization gigs its talent to other organizations.
Additional Reading – From workforce planning to Planning Work
Disruptive changes to business models had started before the pandemic but were certainly accelerated by it. This is already beginning to profoundly impact the employment landscape and will continue to shape over the coming years. Many of the significant drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries such as demographic, socio-economic, and technological drivers, are expected to substantially impact employment, from jobs being created to jobs totally disappearing, and from the demand for increased productivity to rapidly widening skills gaps.
In many industries, the most in-demand occupations or expertise did not exist ten or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate reported by the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that do not yet exist.
Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, pointed out in a May report: “The fallout of the pandemic will accelerate digitization and automation across a range of industries and sectors. This calls for new investments and mechanisms for upskilling and reskilling, for both deeply human skills and digital skills.”
In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements, job content, and the overall impact on employment conditions is increasingly critical for governments, businesses, and individuals to fully seize the opportunities and mitigate unfavourable outcomes.
In my opinion, what this boils down to:
Job Seekers will need to be able to pivot towards the new roles being created and the new ways of work. What this essentially means is that, in some cases, they will require to acquire technical knowledge specific to the industry, or even to the role itself. In other cases, they will need soft skills, creative skills, or leadership skills to complement the industry’s digitalization. The accountability to unlearn and learn has shifted hugely to the job seeker and their capacity to keep pace and remain relevant.
Meanwhile, employers need to be ready to pivot their businesses towards the new models that are emerging. The former necessitates the transformation mindset extending to the workforce level, too: from workforce planning to hiring to talent managing and developing, workforce skilling and reskilling, employee engagement and retention, as well as investing in new work technologies. Employers must think about it all at two dimensions – business growth and business continuity. This ultimately leads to the dire need for employers to double click on their HR function and invest in upskilling it and then empowering it to reconstruct a dynamic, agile, talented workforce.
Policymakers have an essential role to play in the face of the seismic impact of the pandemic on society and the economy- short term and long term. To help employers navigate the fallout of the pandemic and also manage the transition to the future of work, governments must take actions in these four areas:
Governments will need all hands on deck, with all stakeholders playing their part in the future of work transition.
These are times when no one is immune to changing their approach to employment – be it employers, job seekers, and policymakers.
Hanadi El Sayyed