A Practical Approach to Managing Workforce During COVID-19

COVID-19 is the most severe crisis since the Second World War: companies are losing workforce rapidly around the world. A structured strategy for managing workforce can bring consistency into overall operations during today’s challenging times by putting people first.

At the heart of any organization’s talent management strategy is headcount planning to ensure that it has the right number of talent with the right skills. But hiring external talent isn’t always a viable option. Factors such as external forces or internal budget cuts may dissuade organizations from making the hiring choices wants to make.

Managing Workforce

Managing Workforce

Managing Workforce & Planning Strategies COVID Pandemic

Hire from inside your company

During unprecedented times such as the COVID-19 crisis, organizations may take preemptive measures to survive the economic shock. With budget cuts, they need to rely on the existing talent pool within the organization than a new hire. This is practical when certain teams or units at the organization are moving rather slowly, and thus, giving them the desired space to give up a team member to a different unit.

In many organizations, there is still an aversion to hiring from within. Hiring managers have a laundry list of qualifications for the ideal candidate, and they may believe no internal talent can match those requirements. This may be true in a lot of cases but the right approach to fix this is by reskilling employees who show potential.

Many organizations are able to find a current employee with a similar skill set who can take over the role for a few weeks. This could be an employee within a different unit who has less workload than their peers for the time being. Based on their work experience in the new role, they can inform the HR from an outsider’s perspective what skills a candidate needs from day one and what skills can be provided through proper training & development.

Managing A Workforce

As for the list of required skill set, organizations need to realize that many of these skills are transferable. A candidate or an existing staff member who knows one software can easily acquire proficiency over another one.

Reskilling can prove to be a valuable tool and can help employees move to roles in the organization that weren’t an option before. It is generally a time-consuming process to get people to reskill using whatever resources are available.

Another effective approach for managing workforce is to pick an employee in a team or unit that’s at risk of being downsized and offering them the opportunity to reskill with a new role in mind. This workforce strategy may motive employees to learn new skills, and at the same time give them a sense of job security.

Managing workforce in times of disruption

Hiring managers must consider scenario planning to surmise all possible outcomes and device strategies to address each of these different possibilities. For instance, if the demand for a service dropped by 60 percent due to the COVID-19 crisis, what would happen to the organization, and how could it be addressed? If the organization discovered that the production in their supply chain was disrupted, how would it impact the overall business outcomes? Most importantly, what are the associated risks and outcomes of those risks?

A lot of times the way an organization addresses these needs may end up costing the pretty penny, like hiring more people to address increasing business needs. In most cases, however, training existing workers may help fill the gaps.

Oftentimes, disruptions prompt organizations to feel the react impulsively and be short-sighted in their decisions. It’s important to remember that the immediate actions organizations take with workers will impact their future in the long-term. This includes how workers view the employer and whether the workplace is viewed as one that cares about their workers well-being.

For instance, reskilling or mobility programs, i.e. the process of moving workers to a different role in the company rather than laying off will help contribute to the goodwill of the employer brand. The COVID-19 crisis is a boon in disguise for employers who want to actively partake in reskilling programs that they didn’t put into place before. While it’s nearly impossible for some organizations to do this for all of their workers, most companies look to find the degree to which they can, the positive their employer branding will be.

How HR Leaders can adapt

As organizations consider their workforce planning strategies, these are the questions HR leaders must ask in order to make informed decisions. Will the reskilling program make talent more or less expensive? Will it change the future skills needs of the organization?

In the current scenario, even if the organization is doing well, workers may feel threatened about their job security.

The power of predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is a tool that allows organizations to accumulate and assess information on the external talent market. It can allow organizations to get actionable insights on how their competitors are handling the crisis. Perhaps a competitor is hiring external talent with a new set of skills that would prove to be valuable for the organization in the near future.

With predictive analytics organizations can identify whether there’s wiggle room to explore newer ventures. For instance, a large number of organizations are now opting for gig workers which has let to them being open to hiring talent from different parts of the world.

Use of tools

In today’s job market it is important to ensure that organizations have the right people with the right skills to support the evolving needs of their clients. In such a scenario, many organizations have opted for the ‘open-book management’ style of running operations, which essentially allows talent to be actively involved in the process of forecasting key figures and ultimately their share in rewards the company earns from subpar performance. This will also help create a sense of ownership within the talent pool and create an organization full of engaged workers who think and act like owners.

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Diana Coker
Diana Coker is a staff writer at The HR Digest, based in New York. She also reports for brands like Technowize. Diana covers HR news, corporate culture, employee benefits, compensation, and leadership. She loves writing HR success stories of individuals who inspire the world. She’s keen on political science and entertains her readers by covering usual workplace tactics.

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