Reshaping critical talent to remain recession resilient


Traditional hiring processes have inbuilt biases that organisations may not be aware of, that can filter candidates out of the recruitment system before they’ve had a genuine opportunity to demonstrate how well-matched they are, Malcolm Kinns.

When the global financial crisis struck back in 2008, it quickly became clear that there were two types of companies. The first were quick to act, slashing jobs and putting talent strategies in the bin to save on cash; while the second looked to see if these ‘challenges’ could be converted into opportunities.

According to a Harvard Business Review study of 4,700 publicly listed companies, the 9 per cent of organisations who flourished following the last GFC were the ones that avoided knee-jerk labour reductions. These companies took a strategic approach to identify growth opportunities and invested in workforce planning to ensure they had the skills needed to succeed.

Armed with this knowledge, it has been hard to shake the sense of déjà vu watching hundreds of organisations across Australia implementing hiring freezes or letting employees go as they grapple with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

While some cost-cutting is inevitable, we know organisations that see their people as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, will be better placed to survive and thrive in a post-COVID world.

Also, with more than 992,000 Aussies unemployed or underemployed, organisations have the opportunity to reshape their approach to people and find the best candidates to help the company grow and evolve.

This isn’t a time to sit back and wait for events to unfold. To be prepared for the future, HR leaders must understand what their workforce needs and how to get there.

Identifying future skills to support the business
With the pandemic accelerating the future of work through digitisation, disruption and automation, many organisations have little foresight into what skills they need to succeed and evolve in a post-COVID world.

According to a new McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organisations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years.

Similarly, in Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, 53 per cent of respondents said that between half to all their workforce will need to alter skills and capabilities in the next three years.

‘Talent’ no longer means the same as it did ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today. Today, success increasingly depends on innovation, entrepreneurship, and other forms of creativity. Capabilities such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence and collaboration are key, and organisations who are not thinking about these talent pipeline needs are at risk.

Custom made candidates
With the demand for skills to grow and transform businesses ever-evolving, HR leaders must also be ready to adapt recruitment and hiring processes.

Traditional hiring processes have inbuilt biases that organisations may not be aware of, that can filter candidates out of the recruitment system before they’ve had a genuine opportunity to demonstrate how well-matched they are.

And in a rapidly changing economic and digital environment, it’s crucial for organisations to find the best-fit candidate to drive the business outcomes and transformation needed.

By understanding an employer’s needs, Generation Australia is working with organisations to create their own recruitment programs to train and place candidates. In-depth research is conducted to identify in-demand skills to develop tailored training programs around. Each program is developed in consultation with industry.

For example, it was identified that demand for skills in the software and applications sector were predicted to increase by 23 per cent by 2024, which led Generation Australia to develop its junior web developer program.

The first cohort of the program recently graduated the 12-week course with two more programs scheduled to start before the end of the year.

This demand-led approach ensures the workforce is agile in adapting to the rapid digital changes and ‘skills of the moment’.

Removing bias
Unemployed Australians are also having to pivot their skills into new sectors to find work during COVID-19. For example, thousands of employees in the aviation sector are currently reshaping their skills for new roles in different industries, such as retail and health.

From reskilling for a new role to joining the gig economy, it’s safe to say that the average CV is going to look a little different in a post-COVID world. And the skills and experiences gained during this time should be recognised and valued.

Organisations looking to enhance their hiring practices will need to actively combat unconscious bias from the recruitment process to ensure they find the best person for the job.

For example, if someone hasn’t had a job for a long period of time, there may be an immediate bias that there is an issue with that person.

This bias not only leads to organisations overlooking people that could be well-suited to a position, it creates a self-perpetuating cycle that prevents them from securing permanent work.

Generation Australia is working on a new digital platform in partnership with Hatch, that will match-make candidates of diverse populations with employers who meet their requirements closely.

Through the process, organisations can select candidates who are shortlisted for the role without biases being in existence during the initial filtering process. Employers will receive an immediate short list of people who are brought to life through videos and relevant information about why they’re a good fit for the role.

As we look ahead, there’s one thing of which we are certain; it’s crucial organisations must start adapting to the needs of their future workforce now to build recession resilience and evolve as an organisation.

Image Source: Unsplash