COVID-19 hasn’t just changed the workplace, it has likely changed forever the complexion of the workforce — and work itself. The opportunity and challenge for HR leaders is to respond and move from a static to an agile planning approach, one that can continually reshape the workforce to incorporate changes in business and skill needs during the pandemic and beyond.
“In a reset talent landscape, the burning questions become: ‘What does differentiated talent look like? Where can we find it? And how do we put it together to gain competitive advantage?’” says Scott Engler, VP, Advisory, Gartner.
The good news is this type of workforce “futuring” — workforce planning for future strength, fueled by technology and labor market analysis — delivers greater flexibility, far beyond the constraints of legacy talent management processes and assumptions.
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Unbounded talent in the wake of COVID-19
So what has changed so radically that flexible workforce planning is now an urgent need?
New remote work norms are the most obvious shift. Gartner research shows that 48% of employees will work remotely after the pandemic, up from 30% pre-pandemic. But that isn’t the only, or even the most radical, shift in this time of transformation.
More broadly, as organizations recover from the effects of the pandemic, many will reimagine key aspects of their business models. The imperative for HR leaders is to identify where and what the impact will be for their organization’s talent and skill needs.
“Organizations that can sense and seize on these new talent realities are going to secure a competitive advantage,” says Engler.
Talent is newly unconstrained
The location of talent is no longer geographically limited
New remote work norms mean talent is potentially available anywhere. As a result:
The competition for talent changes radically.
The options for acquiring lower-cost talent are expanding.
It’s easier to recruit diverse talent.
Remote work enables flexibility, productivity and cost savings
It drives greater digitalization and compartmentalized workflows, and creates new opportunities to use distributed workforce models. Among fully remote employees, 48% display high discretionary effort versus 35% who are never remote, and 41% make a high enterprise contribution (vs. 24%).
Roles, once the currency of talent plans, are breaking down into skill clusters
These clusters determine an individual’s capabilities and change the way we think about building and buying “critical skills.” You’re no longer bound to an organization chart to assign critical workflows. Forty percent of employees say they frequently complete tasks that are outside of their job description, proving that roles are ill-designed to capture the skills required for today’s workflows.