Managing corporate hiring and talent challenges during COVID-19

Gulf News

Talent assessment strategies for corporates

By Majid Mneymneh, Vice President Higher Education and Corporate, Pearson Middle East

The recent global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant impact over the corporate world. Apart from the health of millions being at stake, the long term livelihoods and careers of people have also been disrupted and how much will the business or economy will change in the post-pandemic world or will COVID-19 have a drastic impact on talent strategies, are some of the tough questions that leaders and organizations across the globe are grappling with.

With remote or virtual working from home becoming the norm, acceleration of digital skills and technologies and emergence of new job roles and employer demands in the market, it is critical to get a sense of what the corporate landscape might look like in the future, so that we are able to plan accordingly. Now, more than ever, making the right decisions in terms of talent management are central to how companies can reimagine their personnel practices to build organizational resilience and drive value. The importance of this can also be understood through an article in Forbes which talks about the cost of Bad or mis-hiring to a company: “According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the price of a bad hire is at least 30 percent of the employee's first-year earnings; a five-figure investment in the wrong person can be a potential threat to the business.” For this reason, finding and hiring the right people, learning and growing, managing and rewarding performance, tailoring the employee experience, and optimizing workforce planning and strategy are the five key areas which should be focused upon, for CHROs to craft a strong and durable talent strategy for the post pandemic world.

In this article, listed are some of the best practices for companies to manage talent and recruitment challenges, offer opportunities to their employees for learning & development and navigate through the crisis with innovation:

Make hiring decisions with confidence – Assess by design
Whether organizations are freezing, stabilizing or increasing hiring, the opportunity exists for employers to reevaluate their recruitment process and make it more robust and efficient.

One way is to use talent assessment tools as part of the hiring steps. Talent assessments by design are meant to provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of an individual. Some assessments can even provide a profile report that can predict performance and assess a candidate’s suitability at any level or position within the company. Platforms such as Pearson Talent Lens provide employers and organizations with tools that help them to gain a deeper understanding of a person’s values, needs, strengths and weaknesses, so that they are able to identify the right people for their business.

Implementation of these kind of scientifically valid, reliable and robust psychometric assessments during the early hiring process and their continued usage can lead to an active employee development, which is absolutely critical for companies to be successful and become future-ready with the right and best talent on board. It also shows investment in brand’s long-term success and addresses the significant employability relevance gap by identifying fundamental abilities and skills that an individual requires to be successful at the workplace at any level in his/her career.

Upskilling employees is necessary and short programs will continue to be popular 
While new skills can be acquired, upskilling existing employees is still important. Not only, as mentioned above, to show the support of company to their own staff and to be sought after but also as this make a lot of sense financially. A recent research showed that it can cost as much as six times more to hire from the outside than to build from within. While this calculation varies significantly based on the occupation and job function, it presents a strong case for employers to consider reskilling.

Pearson’s Global Learner Survey 2020 indicates a strong need in attaining digital skills among respondents to thrive through and beyond the pandemic. More than half of the respondents said they need new digital skills because their job status has changed, with 89% saying they need digital skills, such as virtual collaboration and data analysis to move forward in this economy. Indeed, 77% of people say working remotely has taught them they need different skills than what was needed while working in an office. 

As COVID-19 accelerates the speed and scale of digital transformation, the lack of digital skills could jeopardize companies who have not aligned their talent plans. Technology skills for instance, are no longer highly centered in IT, they need to be aligned across all organizational functions and businesses along with soft skills to achieve success. There is a need for employers to upskill/reskill and it is widely recognized that this type of support can come from an external party like an education consulting body that, using their deep expertise in research, assessment powered by technology as well as understanding of how people learn, could share valuable insights on more effective tactics for corporates on talent assessment and management to sail effectively through these turbulent times. 

By looking at different pathways for individuals and employees to upskill and reskill, employers can avoid financial risk, increase productivity, improve employee morale, boost customer satisfaction and more importantly prevent loss of business.

Invest in online and blended professionals’ courses – the new emerging pedagogy 
Research shows that the biggest hurdle to upskilling is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for working professionals to take time off from their day to day job tasks and pursue full-time professional courses or formal education. With the emergence of online and blended learning, employers and employees can now bridge the skills gap with digital and virtual professional learning programs. In fact, according to UNESCO, one and half billion students across the world have engaged in remote learning at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing an accelerated trend to online learning.

Traditional face to face- 3 to 5 days training has proven not be very efficient in term of learning impact. We are all familiar with the “The Forgetting Curve.”, which found that if new information isn’t applied, learner will forget about 75% of it after just six days. That’s where blended learning can be more impactful where the learner get access to the online content for a prolonged time to go through it and have the time to reflect and immerse in it, some face to face workshops for the instruction and intervention to happen and learner to grasp concepts, and finally to practice those learnings.

While online learning can provide a good cost-efficient alternative to traditional training and can reach a larger numbers of employees at a much lower cost, not all training can be done online and be efficacious. The right mix between online and blended can be found while weighting multiple factors that help decide type of content, target audience, development and delivery consideration.

Final Thoughts
The present moment is a significant opportunity to reimagine how, and what, education and skills are required to prepare people for a rapidly changing world of work. What we essentially need is a cultural leap from a reactive approach to an anticipatory one and we need to constantly aim to bridge the gap by understanding the needs of employers and helping individuals address those needs through the development of technical skills and competencies. Pearson’s Corporate solutions covers the 4 fundamental aspects that companies and organizations need to reach their full potential i.e, recruitment, development, certification and employee experience. It is a new way of developing, evaluating, and certifying the skills of working professionals, with the competitive advantage of allowing both the employers and the employees develop skills and techniques through trainings and professional development solutions that will help you improve your performance through continuous learning and respond to the new market demands.

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