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Quickly adapting in HR and talent isn’t just for times of crisis

April 21, 2020

As well as enormous human impacts, the coronovirus crisis will change the way business is done.  It will likely also drive invention and innovation at scales not seen outside times of war or other major crises.  HR and talent teams are always impacted by the changes created by crises, and in a human crisis (as a pandemic is), these impacts are larger and more significant than in other crises.  So.  Here we talent professionals are, being whipsawed by the huge and varied short term impacts on workforces, by a very high level of medium- and long-term uncertainty, and by our completely understandable human fear.  And we must do our jobs, including an urgent need to adapt. 

Anyone else wish they’d paid more attention during all those VUCA discussions? 

First, we need to adapt to get through this crisis 

Depending on your industry, you are handling a range of layofffurlough and new work design challenges, at the very least.  Unless you are dealing with a huge recruiting surge, of course.  Not many people are experiencing no change, unfortunately.  For the jobs that are not lost or furloughed, these are a few of the most common adaptations talent professionals are dealing with: 

That’s your next few months, then.  Be sure to take care of yourself. 

This is the mother of all periods of rapid change for talent professionals, and some teams are better equipped to handle rapid change than others.  Adapting to change is not new, but it is all too often driven reactively (such as, ahem, in a crisis) rather than proactively.  And yet, there are a lot of other things we will need to be adapting to soon enough. 

Adapting for the next few years 

Here are a few of the major changes we need to be adapting to in the next few years, some driven by coronavirus, some by megatrends. 

  • Increased remote work, reduced travel:  I’m fairly sure this one will last a while.  We’ll all get better at not getting together, and our employers will see the bottom line impacts, so let’s plan for this one.  As we discussed above, this has tech impacts, engagement impacts, and don’t forget the dark side. 
  • More Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning:  This trend was already in play across HR and especially recruiting, and now that we’re doing more virtual, being more agile in recruitingand we have fewer people, the rise of AI and ML will get a boost.  You’ll need to be more ready, and moving faster.  PS:  Use this time to get your data ready, please!
  • Accelerating Automation:  I’ll write separately about this (it’s close to my heart), but you can bet cash money that as employers look at their business right now they are seeing the surest way to reduce the impacts of a pandemic is to have fewer humans.  Automation will move fast. 
  • The “Future of Work” is sooner:  The people who write about the future of work have been talking for ages about many of the changes implementing today.  Now that businesses are seeing results, expect changes we saw for the distant future getting here sooner.  And there are some new predictions to watch as well.  

And who knows what else?  Will you be ready?  Will we be learning from our current enforced adaption so we come out the other side better equipped to proactively adapt?  I hope so. 

*Personal anecdote on remote working:  So many workers have quickly transitioned to remote work recently that when the monitor on my very well worn work at home workstation up and died 3 weeks ago and I had to buy a television to replace it because no brick/mortar store had ANY monitors left and the wait time for delivery was long.  And I am in a major city!   

Photo by Evan Wise on Unsplash

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