During COVID-19, companies have been hit with tidal waves of change. The future we’ve spent years preparing for in boardrooms and C-suites arrived overnight, and it demands a response. For your organization to survive, you need people with the digital competencies to adapt to inevitable change.
But despite the reference to “digital,” the competencies your workforce needs in order to succeed in the post-COVID-19 age are distinctly human. Agility, leadership, collaboration and flexibility top the list of desired traits. Embracing digital competencies, in tandem with these characteristics, will put your organization on the future-facing trajectory it needs to overcome the coronavirus crisis.
Here’s how hiring for digital competence can support your organization through COVID-19 and beyond.
Adapt to Rapid Change
COVID-19 obliterated any boundaries between us and the future of work. And as the economy comes back online, the rate of change will only increase. “As fast as things are moving now, this is the slowest rate of change we’ll experience,” Von Bank says. “It’s only going to accelerate as we move forward.”
Agility and flexibility are essential for adapting to the new pace of change. “Static strategies are a thing of the past,” Von Bank says. Many industries, like hospitality, will need to reinvent themselves in the wake of COVID-19. Post-pandemic, your organization needs employees who can support widespread change and help you pivot into new products or markets. “A business can’t be agile if it’s people aren’t agile,” Von Bank says. Look for employees who are willing and excited to move around within the organization or fulfill changing job needs.
Job-seekers are facing high competition for jobs right now, but many are also demonstrating extreme adaptability and flexibility. To find agile candidates, ask them how their skills can be applied in new circumstances. Former hospitality employees, for example, are showing how they can adapt their skills and reinvent themselves to work in different industries. People who have really considered how they can redeploy their skills are likely to be agile and flexible, and those are the candidates you want to employ.
Build a Culture of Collaboration
Recovering from the pandemic requires collaboration at every level of your organization. Employees should be self-reliant enough that direct managers can rely on them to help diffuse tense situations. For example, employees on the frontlines or in customer-facing roles will have to respond to new situations and make decisions without constantly relying on management for help.
Moving forward, your organization needs a workforce capable of collaborating with management to move the organization forward. Managers should reward self-reliant, collaborative employees with increased responsibilities. “Are your employees peer leaders? Will people look to them in times of difficulty?” asks Laurie Ruettimann, host of the Punk Rock HR podcast. Employees who are stable, self-aware and emotionally mature will create a collaborative culture. They will be your leaders on the frontlines guiding their peers so that managers can be more strategic in helping you move the business forward.
“If they aren’t bogged down in the micro-details, managers can spend more thinking about product development, customer experience or overall growth strategies,” Ruettimann says. Create a collaborative culture that supports itself so that it can carry the weight of change.
Empower Your Workforce
Post-COVID-19, companies must strike the right balance between moving quickly to respond to change and being proactive about anticipating it. In order to support rapid change, you need a workforce capable of self-leadership: a stable sense of self that allows employees to be more strategic and less reactive. “Work has never been certain,” Ruettimann says. “Self-leadership gives you an edge when uncomfortable or frightening changes emerge at work.”
You need people who can not only keep up with the pace of change, but actually harness change to drive your business forward. People are your most valuable resource right now. “There are great opportunities for individual change-enablers and advocates for change,” Von Bank says. “Organizations that are moving most swiftly right now are getting ideas from individuals who aren’t necessarily in leadership positions.”
Building a flexible workforce capable of self-leadership will help get your company through this economic crisis. Hire employees with an appetite for change and the stability and accountability to lead during crisis. “Empower your workforce to trust themselves and their own judgment,” Ruettimann says. When every member of your workforce is given the opportunity to create and respond to change, then you will see real progress.