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Future skills demand in L&D, talent & OD - Now and post Covid 19

Good news - Across the L&D, talent & OD desk, we are starting to see early signs of leaders putting one eye on the future again. From my conversations with HR, business and consulting executives, it’s clear many are still fighting fires and yet finding a way to control what they can, to guide their teams to perform and deliver outcomes whilst welcoming new technologies, new approaches, new levels of flexibility as well as children and pets to the virtual party.

Over the last 6 weeks I’ve been advising my clients over a range of recruitment or wider talent challenges such as remote interviews, remote on-boarding, market conditions across sector and sharing insight in to industry trends, whilst discussing how lock down has treated us and embracing mine and my dog’s scruffier hair.

Through Covid 19 era change is something we’re experiencing together at a massive scale; social and economic, temporary and permanent. According to a recent YouGov poll, only 9% want things to go back to ‘normal’ after the pandemic. Ipsos Mori’s latest survey also found 35% would not be very comfortable heading back into to the office, with 14% not comfortable at all. So, what does that potentially mean for organisations?

I’ve been thinking about the changes we will see specifically relating to hiring in the L&D, talent and OD job market for consultancies and for the in-house professionals in coming months. I’ve picked some of the key areas I anticipate we will see skills demand.

· Leadership & management

It all starts here - This has become a clearly defined part of the talent function for many organisations and not just a part of the L&D curriculum. High performance of leaders and managers now and post pandemic is critical to business success, why wouldn’t we continue to invest in supporting and developing them now, and in better times? In addition, talent identification and succession planning to retain and reward the superstars that have emerged and thrived during this tough time. Consulting and in-house, I anticipate we will see more demand of skills focused on top team assessment and development.

· Organisation development & organisation design

Restructuring has already begun for some, unfortunately it is likely to come for others. If you’re lucky enough not to experience it during Covid 19 – there may still be a need for a true OD (Org design & Org dev) specialist to partner with leaders and HR. Working in alignment with businesses for the difficult decision and re design pieces, this should in turn create opportunities for the organisation and team effectiveness opportunities. I suspect now more than ever these kinds of positions will play a crucial role in connecting the commercial ambitions, with the new technologies and the human touch of a companies’ approach. Zoom in on areas of your CV where you can add value – contributing to revenue generation, cost saving, performance improvements % etc.

· Culture, employee engagement & values

This links with two above – First of all culture starts with leaders, then thinking about the constant use of tech, the current lack of human interaction and the impact on us all psychologically, where does that leave individuals and the feeling of belonging with a company? Looking at the WFH model and the survey statistics; this remote set up could well stick around for the long haul. Culture and organisation values will change, how we engage and communicate to employees will also change, to me this is inevitable. I suspect this is something we will see in-house demand for at a later date, but the advisory side will be aiding clients with this sooner rather than later.

· Virtual learning

This is not just for eLearning professionals or those with an interest in learning tech. Pre Covid 19, those that had not embraced digital have had a dramatic, challenging overnight shift to re design content to make it suitable for online delivery, realising it’s not just as simple as jumping on a zoom with delegates. This is going to apply for trainers, coaches, leadership and OD professionals running workshops and events. Skills in creating and executing top class virtual events will be critical for L&D professionals consulting and in-house.

· What next?

Whilst everyone assesses the impact of Covid 19 I anticipate we will see more creativity in hiring due to budget constraints, managers being more open to different sector experience, being able to look at wider geographies for candidates due to remote working, a rise in FTCs similar to last year and short term contracts to give flexibility to those recruiting. In terms of permanent, some of the key strategic roles I am working on are still moving, but at a slightly slower pace. With competitors still engaging talent, can you afford to keep the brakes on entirely?


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