The Hybrid Workforce Playbook | Part 2: A New Workforce Demands New Skill Sets

The Hybrid Workforce Playbook | Part 2: A New Workforce Demands New Skill Sets
A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality of how we work has completely changed. Out of this period of acceleration, a new way of working has emerged — a hybrid workforce that combines the strengths of both remote and on-premise teams. The flexibility of this new model has proven beneficial and rewarding for managers, teams, and employees. 

It’s clear that the World of Work will never return to its pre-pandemic normal. But for all the advantages of the new hybrid workforce, massive change always brings challenges. 

Enter The Hybrid Workforce Playbook: a bold, action-oriented guide to reimagining the future of work and building it into reality. 

These shifts in our working landscape have fundamentally altered which skill sets are in highest demand. 

In Part 2 of the Hybrid Workforce Playbook, we go over which competencies will be most valuable in the market of the future. 

Reimagining Your Workplace

As managers scrambled to respond to the urgency of COVID-19, many organizational transitions into hybridity have been rushed and reactionary. But as we move forward, we must create a sustainable hybrid structure that will benefit employees into a post-pandemic — or rather pandemic-sensitive — future.

Not only should talent access professionals assess how to support their existing workforce, but they must begin prioritizing different strengths and qualities in their new hires. In the new World of Work, the most valuable employees are agile, self-motivated, and fluent in the language of the digital age.

Here are some concrete steps towards overhauling your talent strategy so it continues serving your goals in this changing landscape. 

  1. Re-evaluate Traditional Roles

Your readjusted talent strategy shouldn’t just focus on new hires — the value of existing roles will change, too. You may now be able to outsource certain duties to vendors or specialists, who don’t require much training or onboarding and can use their expertise to quickly bring your operations up to speed. This allows you to scale their involvement up and down with your company’s available resources, creating an agile business model that quickly adapts to unforeseen challenges. 

  1. Embrace the Digital Marketplace

Familiarity with digital systems is the ultimate transferable skill in our new climate. Increasingly, employers are seeking out digital native experience — and if you possess it, they’ll teach you the specifics of their industry.

The ability to compete in a fast-changing digital world is now exponentially more important than domain or business experience. The pandemic made it clearer than ever that these skills foster resilience, creativity, and collaboration — all essential for getting work done in distributed teams. 

In particular, a digital native skill set will be valuable for managers, who will not only work in remote teams, but lead them to success. 

  1. Emphasize Data Literacy

Data literacy is a cornerstone of digital fluency. Now and into the future, this will be a critical skill to helping companies understand and leverage the overwhelming amount of information they collect on customer needs, preferences, and behavior. In fact, it’s crucial to long-term growth.

Analytics are useless without people equipped to use them to guide marketing, development, and customer support. Moving forward, data literacy will be one element of a digital native skill set that is especially valuable to prospective employers, and talent access professionals should tailor their search criteria accordingly. Data has powerful applications to talent strategy, too — in this piece, MRI CEO Bert Miller discusses how data will guide business leaders in creating the workplaces of the future.

  1. Prioritize Soft Skills

Soft skills will be highly valuable in the new marketplace. These include cognitive intelligence, integrity, problem-solving, endurance, collaboration, critical thinking, and the ability to abstract. 

Unlike technical skills, which the right candidate can always learn, individuals with strong soft skills can excel in a wide range of situations, thinking creatively, engaging in continuous self-motivated learning, and arriving at their own solutions to problems. 

It may seem difficult to screen candidates for soft skills, but we suggest asking questions around their career history, trajectory, and resiliency, and looking out for how adeptly they seem to learn and adapt to change. 

There is a lot of talk about emotional Intelligence, or EQ. This term refers both to our awareness and control over our own emotions, and the ability to anticipate and respond to those of others. I prefer to call this Emotional Ability, or EA, as it indicates that these are skills people can work on and improve. 

EA is especially important in times when more people than usual may be experiencing distress, such as the ongoing pandemic. Increasingly, these skills have come to be seen as a necessary component of good leadership in all industries.

EA is crucial for success in the new hybrid workplace. To attract talent who will drive businesses forward in this ever-evolving environment, talent access professionals must prioritize soft skills. 

  1. Use Testing to Get to Know Candidates

In the new World of Work, personal and transferable skills like digital fluency and critical thinking are among the most valuable assets. That means glancing at a candidate’s CV won’t give recruiters a clear enough picture of who they are and what they’re capable of. To adapt, talent access professionals should begin emphasizing aptitude and personality testing when vetting candidates. 

Rather than pigeonholing applicants into boxes, this kind of evaluation helps professionals understand what kind of work will let them truly shine. Often, there’s often a disconnect between how people describe themselves, and where their talents actually lie. Our ‘personal scorecard’ approach has job-seekers purposely evaluate their career goals and needs. Talent access professionals can use this same concept within searches to gain a deeper understanding of what drives and motivates different individuals.

Testing at the recruitment stage benefits both job-seekers and employers, placing employees in positions where they excel, and helping companies hire the best combination of personalities for their culture and their goals.

Skills for a New Reality

Talent has always been crucial to business success — but in the new World of Work, the value of skill sets have changed. 

Rapid change is part of our new normal. To create long-term growth and success, businesses need talent that embraces the new hybrid workforce by adapting quickly and confidently. In Part 3 of the Hybrid Workforce Playbook, we’ll discuss how to put your plans into practice by building a return-to-work strategy.