Skip to main content

A Recession-Ready Talent Strategy

Even with a tightening economy, the job market is robust – with the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years in the U.S., Europe and Canada. When the supply of talent keeps shifting, how can HR leaders close talent gaps and set their organization up to thrive during uncertain times?

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated and created huge changes in the world of work. Many people left the workforce, and skills gaps opened up. Now, despite the threat of recession, opportunities will outstrip talent capacity for the next several years, if not decades. This leaves businesses with a huge challenge in simply getting work done. They need to completely alter the way they think about talent, and Talent Lifecycle Management.

Deconstructing jobs in favor of organizing around the work

Companies must figure out exactly what work needs to be done, and deconstruct jobs to see what skills are needed to do the work. Forrester refers to ‘unbundling the job’: a more adaptive model, where silos and hierarchies are broken down, and companies can be more agile.

In other words: decouple work from the job. This may include turning elements into projects, gigs or tasks, and focusing people on the problem to be solved or the ideal outcome. This leads to people being defined as more than just a job title, and also means businesses can fluidly deploy the right talent to the work needed to meet business goals.

According to research by Deloitte, 85% of HR executives say they are planning or considering redesigning the way work is organized so that skills can be flexibly ported across work over the next three years. Are you ready to be more agile in how you think about work to be done?

Using skills as a foundation for hiring, career development and workforce planning

In this talent economy, embracing a skills-first approach is a clear route to success. Of course, creating a single taxonomy for skills is incredibly challenging. You need to ensure that there is consistency around the meaning of every skill, and the data needs to stay up to date. The skills taxonomy needs to be clear, dynamic and interoperable with other HR systems and platforms.

Smart, explainable AI can then be applied to the skills data and match candidates to suitable roles, or recommend development opportunities for employees. AI can even infer what skills a person may possess but has not listed; work out what skills they could potentially develop; and truly understand the seniority and proficiency of an individual.

The advantage of a skills-based approach is cost savings (by not filling jobs with external candidates), and you can unlock productivity by breaking the work into internal “gig” assignments, short-term projects, and contract work. This is done through an internal Talent Marketplace, an approach that also lets people take ownership of their own progress and development.

Understanding what’s working in the market and within your own organization

Of course, every organization is different, and the way that you recession-proof your business will be unique to you. It’s clear that a skills-first approach to talent is becoming more popular and, according to Deloitte, skills-based organizations are 57% more likely to anticipate change and respond effectively and efficiently. 77% of the business and HR executives they surveyed believe “flexibly moving skills to work” is critical to navigating future disruptions.

For this sort of change, you will need to prepare leaders and be clear on responsibilities; the cultural shift for managers – from managing employees to empowering them – is something that requires careful consideration. Employers that listen to the market, and their employees, and aim to understand them holistically as people with ever-evolving skills, qualities and potential, will be best prepared to weather any financial storm.

Learn more about putting skills at the heart of your talent strategy.