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Talent management in the post-pandemic workplace

At the start of the pandemic, talent has left the building. Literally. Today, organisational cultures are built outside of buildings and the future of work is looking nothing like we predicted before. But when physical doors close, digital ones open, and the move to online work is now removing physical barriers, allowing organisations to embrace a wider talent pool and improve inclusion.

The new global currency

Coronavirus is not confined by borders, and neither is talent in a remote workplace. Minimising geographical talent limitations offers great advantages to both employees and organisations and according to The Economist, opening borders to free up talent would result in a $78 trillion increase in global GDP. Culture can be built from anywhere if leaders limit micromanagement and learn to measure how each employee contributes to the organisation, and most importantly, by nurturing trust and fairness in relationships with employees.

Even prior to the pandemic, back in 2018, the World Economic Forum estimated that over 50 percent of employees will need significant upskilling by 2022, and this requirement has significantly accelerated as a result of the Covid crisis. While transition to remote work hasn’t hurt productivity, recent research has revealed that many workers are struggling to acquire the necessary skills required for the changing workplace.

The crisis also impacted how organisations manage and reward performance, as well as objective setting and planning. Effective performance management in the current climate requires a transparent link between individual goals and business priorities with a strong element of flexibility. Great leaders have always been invaluable, but Covid 19 reinforced the urgent need for the evolution from a boss to a coach. Employees need extra help during the pandemic and leaders need to learn to inspire and empower them through ongoing coaching conversations. Remote working makes it harder to measure activity and results, but that doesn’t mean that feedback is less important.

Opportunity for reskilling and upskilling

The shift to remote work has only accelerated the digital transformation of the fourth industrial revolution. McKinsey’s research suggests that throughout the pandemic, advances in technology have allowed companies to accomplish things in 10 days that used to take 10 months. Such rapid transformation requires an entirely new set of skills, many of which employees say they are struggling to acquire. Competencies in areas such as cloud computing and communications, data analytics, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are all in demand now and will continue to be vital in the short and long term.

According to the latest KPMG CEO outlook report, talent and the new working reality are on the top of their agenda, with businesses looking to change their recruitment strategies as remote working has widened their potential talent pool. The research highlighted that since the start of the pandemic, talent risk has risen to be named as the most significant threat to their businesses ahead of supply chain and environmental risk. Talent management requires leadership focus now and in the long-term future and leaders are accurately aware that talent will be key to driving long-term growth and developing organisations that will thrive in the new normal.

However, to adapt to the post-pandemic changes, new skills will be required to meet the new behaviours and needs. As automation of the operating model accelerates, upskilling and reskilling talent will be critical for effectiveness and productivity, and people’s willingness to learn and adapt continuously will become increasingly important attributes.

At Acumen, we pride ourselves in offering development that gives managers practical tools to help solve real-life challenges. We offer an extensive menu of courses, workshops and coaching programmes, ranging from communication skills through to executive leadership development. In most cases, we design the interventions specifically for each client, but we also offer a wide range of off-the-shelf programmes for those who prefer this approach. For more information about our programmes please contact Simon at

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