Human Capital Planning In A Pandemic: Three Things HR Leaders Can Do Today For A Competitive Edge

8 February 2021

“Planning is impossible in 2020.” 

Nearly every conversation I’ve had since March has featured a version of this refrain. We’re in the midst of a dynamic public health crisis, juggling work-from-home challenges and employee engagement concerns — hardly an environment for making long-term plans. But pragmatic HR leaders aren’t sitting still or focusing only on short-term crisis management. We may not know where we’ll be working in a few months, but one thing we can control is with whom we’re working.

The market is flooded with professionals seeking new opportunities. Some have lost jobs or been furloughed due to restructuring. Others may still be employed, but with the rise of remote work, they realize there’s a much wider range of companies where they could work. They’re open to pursuing new options that better match their career goals and personal needs. With the vast majority of professionals working from home for the foreseeable future, it’s much easier for a curious job seeker to have private conversations with recruiters during the workday. Recruiting expenses are also lower, as cost-effective video interviews are the new norm.

1. Invest in your high performers.

Evaluate your current team, focusing on individuals in mid-level roles. Who consistently demonstrates critical skills like innovative thinking? Who has impressed senior leadership with their capacity for flexibility and adaptability this year? What about the “behind the scenes” players who may not readily receive recognition for their hard work? Be sure your star performers are receiving the support they need to grow in your organization and take on additional responsibility. Investing in their future is an investment in your company’s future and re-affirms to these high achievers your commitment to their career development at your organization.

Focus on opportunities to amplify your star performers’ impact, such as leadership training. Strategic talent deployment is a productivity force multiplier that uplifts all your employees. A manager attuned to their team’s capabilities and needs, for example, will be able to coach their team to excel, creating a ripple effect of excellence across your organization.

2. Boost your bench strength.

Next, consider any gaps in your current talent roster. Are you missing a key type of industry experience or specialized skill? Some SMBs historically struggle to hire top performers in competitive talent markets, losing out to companies with bigger brand reputations. With the market shifting, now could be your moment for securing these sought-after hires. If your industry is doing well, consider professionals with transferable skills in distressed sectors, like hospitality, retail and travel.

Additionally, if being on site is not mandatory, consider hiring talent from outside your immediate geographic radius. The rise of remote work, coupled with continued digital advancement, is changing how companies build their workforces. Businesses that are open to bringing on remote hires — and keeping them remote, even after employees return to the office — have access to a much wider talent pool. Before making an offer, ensure this hire will fit with your current and long-term needs. Ask yourself: Are we reacting to short-term challenges, or are we hiring with an eye toward future needs? A new hire could be a game-changer, as long as they’re right for your organization.

3. Build a talent pipeline for the future.

Even if your company is not in a position to hire someone immediately, you can still build your future talent pipeline. Focus on building relationships with passive talent in areas where you anticipate needing new hires over the next 12 to 36 months. With many professionals facing job uncertainty or rethinking their career paths, passive job seekers are more receptive to conversations with recruiters. Remote work also means it is much easier for these professionals to schedule a private call with you during their workday — a key relationship building touchpoint. Phone conversations are invaluable to gaining insight into the professional’s current situation and long-term career goals. When the time is right to hire, these are the insights that can help your company craft the perfect offer.

HR leaders who capitalize on today’s unprecedented talent market will help their organization ride out current challenges and prepare for a successful future.

Article Published By: Forbes, “Human Capital Planning In A Pandemic: Three Things HR Leaders Can Do Today For A Competitive Edge