2021 Guide to Strategic Talent Planning

2021 Guide to Strategic Talent Planning

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a variety of challenges for employers. Not only has there been a drastic shift to remote work, remote learning, remote hiring and remote onboarding, but there are also a number of enduring challenges that employees face, including uncertainty around school closures and the availability of childcare. On top of the daily homefront struggles, the lack of colleague connection has left many employees yearning for a return to their company’s culture and some semblance of normalcy.

Both employers and employees were forced to adapt to the new realities of working during a pandemic in order to remain productive and feel a sense of purpose in their work. Many employers have reimagined how their people and teams within their organizations work together and what changes are necessary in order to maintain operation of their business as effectively as possible.

Employers have needed to evaluate whether they have the right people in place to achieve their business objectives in this iteration of the global economy. Employers have also needed to address any gaps that might exist on their current team in order to shift into recovery mode and begin the process of rebuilding their businesses.

As employers begin planning their 2021 talent needs, there must be a shift in the mindset from survival, to prioritizing recovery and growth.

2021 Strategic Talent Planning

An abundance of uncertainty remains among employers and employees alike. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that none of us really know what the next 6 months will bring. This has forced businesses to rethink how they plan to manage their talent needs in a market that lacks easily accessible talent, especially senior talent. COVID-19 has amplified the need for more flexible and adaptable strategic planning - meaning that traditional 5-year business plans are no longer as valuable and even 3-year plans have become a guessing game. Successful operators are seeing the benefits of executing on 6-12 month plans in order to grow and separate from their competitors.

Tip: Analyze your talent roadmap in phases based on your organization's objectives. When planning your company’s strategic talent roadmap for 2021, you want to look at it in phases. Determine your business objectives and build phases to achieve them. Attach metrics to each phase in order to measure success. By using metrics to determine progress at each phase, it will help indicate when you can smartly take action or move to the next phase.

As an example, if a business’s annual revenue is currently $5M and the goal is to reach $10M in revenue build out phases to get to $10M and apply metrics to know when you’ve reached the next stage. Metrics could include the number of new customers, a quarterly revenue target, etc. Once the business reaches that metric, you now have an indicator to know that you have reached the next phase. There may be a need to hire a senior leader for the sales team for a more structured approach for targeted growth or perhaps a strategic CFO to continue high growth while remaining profitable.

Succession Planning

“If you’ve carried the cost of somebody for the last 6 months and then they decide to leave you January 1st, I think most employers would be pretty upset.” - James Baker, CEO Keynote Search

Why are candidates open to new opportunities right now? The #1 reason candidates are open to engaging in conversations about new opportunities is for job security. There is a general fear (or lack of knowledge) of what is happening at the company’s they are working for as to whether or not they can endure the pandemic and remain solvent and successful - there’s a true sense of insecurity. As an employer, it is extremely important, especially during times of uncertainty to ensure your employees feel secure and that they know you have their best interests in mind as you navigate the current economic challenges. It is important to communicate and understand the risk factors that might exist in your business so that these can be addressed before it’s too late.

Other reasons employees are open to new opportunities stem from discomfort with the difficult decisions employers have had to make, including adjustments to compensation (decreased salary, not offering benefits anymore, etc.) or layoffs en mass. Some employees are feeling the impact of layoffs with increased workloads that often come without increased compensation levels to match.

Performance Management

The question that a lot of businesses need to ask is “Can we grow and develop our talent in 2021 or do we need to hire for skills and experience?”

“The workplace plays a critical role in maintaining and supporting the mental wellness of its employees. Whether your employees feel as if they are working from home or living at work, the pervasive and consistent negative impact the pandemic has on your employees' mental health can not be ignored. Proactive employers are recognizing that their people and teams are facing unprecedented levels of social isolation, uncertainty, financial strain, and burnout and are offering quality solutions to these challenges through employer backed mental health care options. From clinical counselling and workplace education, to policies and programs informed by mental health research, leading companies are benefiting from healthy employees and psychological safety in their workplace. In navigating these changing times, employers who address uncertainty with quality support options will see gains in retention, productivity and will foster a workforce that can navigate uncertain times with resilience. The pandemic has provided an opportunity for great employers to take meaningful actions to promote strong mental wellness in the workplace and act as leaders for the future of work both during the pandemic and beyond.” - Megan Rafuse, Co-Founder, Shift Collab and Clinical Therapist

Final Thoughts & Takeaways

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