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Amanda Daering is chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based talent consultancy Newance LLC, which helps companies with talent and attraction and individuals with career pathing. She talked with BizTimes associate editor Arthur Thomas recently about some of the best practices for companies in addressing their workforce needs following the disruption of the labor market by the coronavirus pandemic.
What innovative approaches have you seen from companies during COVID-19?
“I’ll start with what’s maybe less innovative but very critical, and easier said than done, is really communicating effectively with their teams. … From an innovation standpoint, I think the best employers are those that really are able to align their talent strategy to their business strategy. I think those employers are ones that are taking a look at what they need now, which might be a pivot, and what they might need in the next 18, 24, 36 months.”
What challenges are there for companies in hiring in the new normal?
“A lot of the challenges are in fine-tuning a selection process to be effective virtually. I think many people are finding that some of the old methods that they relied on in the past are less effective in a virtual format, so I do think we’ll see more work with things like assessments. … I think those are things companies will come to rely more on as they might be screening through more applicants, or even thinking … about how they could repurpose or resource internal applicants or internal employees into new roles.”
Tapping into the talent already in their company?
“Absolutely. Modern performance management is about doubling down on people’s strengths; it’s not about trying to change who someone is at their core. We used to spend a lot of time as an industry on performance improvement plans and talking about weaknesses, but the future is really more about understanding people’s natural abilities and then aligning them to the right work.”
Does COVID-19 change anything about the longer-term workforce challenges?
“We’re hearing significantly increased requests for fully remote roles or maybe remote first. … We’ve talked to candidates who have said, ‘Now that I’m home, I’d like to stay home and so if this role is going to require me to come back to an office full time in the future, I’m not interested in it.’ I think that is going to be a big management shift for some companies.”
How can companies balance long-term needs with short-term business concerns?
“I don’t think that being an exceptional employer means that you never make tough decisions. I think there are exceptional employers who are or have been making tough calls like layoffs or furloughs. … A big part of it is you’re being really thoughtful about being respectful to your workforce, being as transparent as possible and really handling the situation with a lot of care and dignity.”
How will social distancing and safety measures change and shape company cultures?
“I think the culture will still exist, but I think it increases the importance around things like clarity of purposes, it increases the need for ongoing, constant communication for leadership. … There’s so much that happens when people sort of have the chance to interact without an agenda and so you have to balance that with not having everyone sitting in a Zoom call eight hours a day. I think one of the biggest mistakes companies make is trying to exactly replicate their in-person online, like we’ll have all the same meetings and all the same process and all the same everything, we’ll just do it via Zoom.”
What else should employers be thinking about?
“My advice would be two-fold, the first part being to really invest time, energy, resources into resiliency. Resiliency will serve you well through all sorts of changes. ... The other thing I would say is the companies who are embracing some of these changes will be better served in the long run. I think assuming that things will snap back into the way that they used to be and planning for that is going to be a miss, is going to create a disconnect between those employers and the future workforce.”