By now, we all know how devastating COVID-19 has been to the economy. Nations and businesses around the world have all suffered dramatic drops in revenue and sales. Even the most prepared and agile organisations are scrambling to find solutions in order to survive the economic devastation.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus is busy tearing down global supply chains, companies have put their focus on diversifying and adjusting supply networks to reduce risk and salvage some continuity. However, are these same businesses giving the same consideration to the supply of talent?

The pandemic has made it painfully clear that companies need fluidity in talent and a seamless flow of knowledge and innovative ideas. As companies begin their return to the office, shoring up this talent supply chain is a crucial part of mitigating risk.

By the end of May, many businesses were already discussing strategies for a return to the workplace. However, executives need to consider putting more consideration into answering important questions about talent.

For example, what kind of skillsets and mindsets will be needed to continue to operate, grow, and evolve in a time of continuous business disruption? Or how can we augment our sources of talent to position the organisation to meet future needs?

The past few months have taught the world a valuable lesson about being prepared for the worst. Top-level executives now need to go one step further to ensure that the company’s talent supply chains can not only respond to additional outbreaks, but also capitalise on any new potential opportunities that present themselves.

As we have already established that businesses need to understand their talent supply, the next step is for them to compile an accurate image of the skills, capabilities, and experience in the workforce. Knowing where the skills and talent of the company are placed compared to the global talent pool will be key in identifying the collective skill strengths and gaps that a business possesses.

It is also incredibly important to ask what roles and aspects of work will change because of new developments such as artificial intelligence and other advanced work automation.

Diane Gherson, IBM’s chief HR officer, says: “We need real-time, sense-and-respond capabilities for skills as our businesses move to agile models and adopt new technology, exponentially changing the nature of work. In this environment, strategic workforce planning is relegated to the trash bin.”

AI tech will eventually allow businesses to incorporate relevant data from across a business and the market. This will serve as an important tool in anticipating recruitment and workforce training needs far in advance.

Another things that needs to be considered now is partnership and collaboration. In today’s interconnected world, there is no real reason for rejecting collaborations with other companies. Especially in desperate times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborations between companies can serve as the pillar of support to help both businesses survive.

Imagine how much more powerful collaborations can be with planned rotations of employees and cross-business programmes to strengthen understanding of the wider enterprise, or to build relationships with stakeholders such as customers and suppliers.

Now is the time to be fluid and flexible when it comes to talent management and business. We have to be able to draw on all sources of talent and advantages to build an agile business and to adapt to the ‘new normal’ brought about by the pandemic.


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