HR Insights
September 15, 2021

Adapting your talent acquisition strategies for the future of work

Here’s how HR leaders can build adaptable talent acquisition strategies to meet both the needs of the business and the workforce.

Table of Contents

Before the pandemic hit, hiring the right talent was a challenge as competition was high and employment rates were low. A McKinsey Quarterly article stated several years ago that by 2020, as many as 95 million workers could lack the skills needed for employment. The pandemic, however, has upended the economy and presented employers – and job seekers – with an entirely unique set of challenges.  

Many organizations – particularly those in industries such as healthcare and food services – have had to ensure they have enough skilled workers to align with fluctuations in demand. Talent needs will continue to change as socio-economic conditions evolve, putting greater pressure on teams to hire the right people quickly. Companies will also need to prioritize employees’ evolving needs – from how they’re paid to offering the right benefits and wellness programs – in order to attract the best candidates.

As well, time-to-hire and time-to-productivity are always a focus for many talent teams, and even more so during a difficult time or recovering from an economic downturn.

As organizations continue to hire for remote work and expand their traditional talent pools to include candidates in other geographic locations, they’ll need to balance two priorities: meeting the needs of remote employees while also focusing on hiring the right people quickly and efficiently.

The future of work is here

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What sets successful and agile organizations apart from those that face inertia is the ability to develop strategies that can easily adapt and evolve with the changing world of work. Here, we outline several ways to overcome the talent acquisition challenges of today so companies can gain access to the right skills to succeed and thrive in the future.

1. Sourcing the right type of talent to align with changing business needs

Finding the right talent with the skills to meet business needs today and in the future is becoming more of a challenge. For a while now, companies have invested in technologies such as AI and automation to increase efficiency and drive productivity and performance. Before the pandemic, McKinsey claimed that technical skills will experience the most growth and demand in the future, including both basic and more advanced digital skills. The pandemic fast-tracked digital transformations in companies to overcome business challenges today and adapt to the new reality, for example, businesses moved their physical channels online. Healthcare providers moved rapidly to telehealth models, insurers to self-service claims assessments, and retailers to contactless shopping and delivery.

However, the demand for higher cognitive, social, and emotional skills is also expected to rise as creativity, collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence are now needed to be successful in nearly every role, according to LinkedIn. Companies now need to hire talent with the right mix of skills to drive new operating models forward.

Finding talent with the right technical capabilities is challenging on its own, only for organizational goals to change and evolve. Employers can move away from the rigid job description of the past and find people who are adaptable and show a willingness to learn. After these individuals are hired, companies can provide technology that supports continuous learning so these employees can develop their skills to align with changing business needs.

HR teams can also use human capital management technology to analyze people data to understand the skills that exist in the current talent pool. With this information, they can identify candidates that have the potential to develop into key roles.

2. Meeting the evolving needs of candidates

People’s needs are always evolving, and a crisis can accelerate the pace of change. Organizations will need to think about how they will support the workforce as their hierarchy of needs change – and this must start before employees are even hired.

Going forward, employee health and safety in the coming months and even years ahead should be a priority for all organizations to attract talent. Employees who don’t feel safe or supported from a well-being standpoint are likely to be less engaged. Companies will need to ensure they’re communicating the steps they’re taking to protect the health of their workforce. As well, promoting wellness programs early in the recruiting process – such as mental health benefits – will show candidates the company is invested in their people’s health and well-being.

Employees are also feeling heightened effects of financial stress. More than half (55%) of U.S. employees had trouble covering their expenses between pay periods in the latter half of 2020. Of that group, 50% said the pandemic had an adverse impact on their finances for which they were unprepared.

Flexible pay options such as on-demand pay can enable employees to access their earned wages after their shift rather than waiting until the standard payday. This helps employees better manage their finances and can help reduce financial stress.

Learn how Buehler’s Fresh Foods was able to remotely onboard new hires quickly to meet changing business needs

3. Finding the right talent in larger talent pools

There has been a significant increase in job postings for roles that can be done working remote in industries like corporate services and software. These postings are getting a lot more views, according to LinkedIn research. An overwhelming 85% of software employees in the U.S. say they can effectively work remotely – more than in any other industry.

Leveraging technology to streamline the recruiting process and allow talent acquisition teams to score candidates against different criteria will help focus efforts on what talent can really drive business forward today, and in the years to come.

4. Supporting time-to-productivity during onboarding

COVID-19 has made hiring, integrating, and training new employees more difficult in the absence of in-person onboarding and orientation. Research has shown that a strategic onboarding process brings new employees up to speed 50% faster, which means they’re able to contribute to achieving company goals more quickly and efficiently.

Employers can provide a more unified and consistent experience by using a central hub to better communicate with their workforce about company policies and updates to ensure everyone is well informed. Employees can also take control of their own work experience and find the information they need – such as their benefits manual – all in one place.

As well, organizations can keep their workforce further engaged and productive by assigning specific tasks and action items for groups of employees to complete, such as health and safety courses or training on company policies. Delivering personalized, relevant content for specific audiences and employee groups can help ensure the right person is presented with the right information at the right time. This can drive productivity and engagement, while at the same time, help cut back on the amount of time HR teams spend answering employee requests and inquiries.

Read next: The impact of good and bad employee onboarding experiences

5. Streamlining manual talent acquisition processes

Now more than ever HR is central to how companies are reimagining their workforce practices to build organizational resilience and drive value. Recent events have accelerated the need to hire the right people and provide an elevated employee experience. This means HR teams have limited time to spend on manual, time-consuming processes.

Companies can reduce inefficiencies in the hiring process with technology that helps teams send out offer letters and allows the candidate to accept the job from within the electronic letter itself. Teams will be able to reduce the number of steps required to bring new talent on board so they can focus on higher-value work. Offering this type of candidate experience also shows investment in the larger employee experience and the commitment the company has in making work life simpler for their people.  

What comes next

Companies across the world are facing new and unique challenges brought on by the crisis in which they now need to find new ways to serve their customers and society at large. Building a resilient workforce that has the skills needed to take on the business challenges of tomorrow will require different talent strategies that are agile and can evolve alongside the needs of both the company and its people.

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