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Addressing Human Capital Challenges Resulting from COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the staffing challenges once dubbed “the great resignation” have turned into “the great reshuffle.” Employees are looking for jobs that better fit their lifestyles, affording them more flexibility even as things return to normal, along with higher pay and better benefits. Companies are, in turn, facing serious retention issues.

These higher turnover rates are creating serious business continuity challenges as companies scramble to fill vacant positions and recruit new talent, and as employees leave, their teammates are left with increased workloads and a higher risk of burnout.

Gartner identified post-pandemic talent as one of the biggest concerns in its Q4 2021 Emerging Risks Monitor Report.

Talent risks are particularly concerning to executives because they are being driven by multiple root causes. High levels of voluntary unemployment and new expectations among the workforce are fueling an already hot labor market.

Matt Shinkman, Vice President, Gartner Risk and Audit Practice

According to another survey of members of Women Corporate Directors, human capital management was rated as a top concern by 17% of respondents, second only to cybersecurity (38%), and 23% cited “human capital management as an area of opportunity for operational resilience and business continuity.” Factors include threats from employee workforce safety, labor shortages, talent retention, and workplace expectations.

As organizations adapt to permanent remote or hybrid models to retain talent – rather than using those models as a stopgap during the last two years – they must also create new working models and ways to keep both employees and data safe and secure. Cyberattacks are on the rise, particularly against SMBs, and target those with lax work-from-anywhere policies. The cybersecurity profession itself is seeing major shifts, with one in 10 experienced cybersecurity professionals leaving the industry altogether – and leaving companies especially vulnerable.

The ongoing pandemic has highlighted an invaluable lesson: One of the assets that is most vulnerable to disruption is workers, and companies need to be doing all they can to take care of their people. To that end, companies are working to replace lost labor with reinvigorated recruiting tactics as well as increased training and retention tactics.

Mitigating Disruption: How corporate boards are prioritizing business resilience during the pandemic

Organizations must plan for talent shortages and turnover within business continuity plans, and not only for C-level executives; it is a disruption for which organizations must prepare. Evaluate your business continuity plans and identify the key players. What will your organization do if that person is no longer with the company at a time of crisis? Is there redundancy – a second and third person identified?

Ways to Incorporate Potential Talent Shortages & Disruption in Business Continuity Plans

  1. Document all major processes in detail in a central location for anyone to access and learn from.
  2. Identify single points of failure and create redundancy in roles.
  3. Test and adjust plans more often during times of high turnover.
  4. Prioritize the most critical roles within your organization.
  5. Incorporate business continuity planning and exercises into new employee training to create a culture of resilience.
  6. Regularly update employee contact information.

Steps Organizations Can Take to Prepare for and Respond to Talent Shortages

From Gartner

  • Focus on business continuity threats, not just talent gaps. Identify critical workflows, not just critical workers. Attrition among employees who are involved in critical workflows creates the biggest threat to business continuity.
  • Adopt a new approach to mass turnover by changing the work to be done. HR should collaborate with leadership to reprioritize work and expand options for getting it done.
  • Counter compensation increases by differentiating the employee value proposition (EVP).
  • Attract and retain talent by tailoring the EVP around lives instead of careers. Lead with authenticity and mitigate employee pain points.

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