Blog & News

HR Trends in a COVID-19 World

Written By
Brendan Bresnahan
Senior Content Producer

More than three months have passed since the early days of March when the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a global pandemic. Truth be told, 2020 has been a strange year, and whatever we thought was going to happen (i.e., our original HR trends predictions for 2020) seems to have gone out the window. Since the year began, we have all experienced a profound shift on a number of important levels – societal, familial and, as we will focus on in this article, professional.

To put it plainly, the way we work is rapidly changing, and it appears that there is no going back.

With the pandemic acting as catalyst for a global HR reset, HCM leaders and executives have been forced to rethink the future of work. From the tactics we employ to source and onboard our post-pandemic workforce, to the sudden primacy of dispersed teams and remote work, the trends that we are currently experiencing – and the ones we expect to soon take hold – will likely have a lasting impact on strategic HR for years to come. In this article, we will take a look at the challenges and trends that many of our 650 plus clients are experiencing as they look to utilize Avature’s robust talent management and talent acquisition ecosystem in order to adapt to the new reality that is our post-pandemic world.

Let’s dive in.

Trend #1 – AI and Smart Automation Drive Candidate Sourcing

When it comes to hiring and sourcing activities in the aftermath of COVID-19, we find that our customers typically fall into one of two categories – hiring freeze or hiring boom. Whereas the former is focused on navigating the perils of budget cuts and striving to do more with less, the latter aims to meet an exponential increase in demand for essential goods and personnel. And while both scenarios naturally implicate their own set of diverse strategies and best practices, there is a common denominator that ties both groups together: a reliance on AI and automation to manage unexpected changes in the market.

In both cases, clients are increasingly relying on our best-in-class AI capabilities as their talent stakeholders seek to optimize sourcing, screening, segmentation and candidate communication efforts. In recent months, many of our clients have taken advantage of our flexibility and customization to build powerful workflows that focus on saving time via smart automation and the prioritization of talent. As one of our longtime clients recently said:

“Headcount will be conservative for years to come, and automation will need to make up for that – or I will die an early death.”

Looking to the immediate future, we expect native artificial intelligence (i.e., candidate matching and scheduling assistance) and machine learning (i.e., resume parsing and automated job recommendations) to take on a heightened importance as organizations look to further streamline and automate their acquisition workflows.

Trend #2 – Opportunity Markets and Internal Mobility Take Center Stage

From improving employee engagement to stimulating career development, internal mobility programs have long proven effective in addressing modern HR’s most perplexing challenges. Now, with many organizations in need of reducing sourcing and associated hiring costs, a number of our clients are looking to develop workflows and processes that can more accurately assess and evaluate internal candidates. It is here that we have seen a recent philosophical shift in how our clients approach employee mobility – from stagnant and siloed with a focus on vertical career growth, to a living, breathing and malleable opportunity marketplace.

Rooted in the belief that upskilling is no longer just an ad hoc luxury for high-potential talent, but fundamental to retention efforts for all employees, our clients envision the opportunity marketplace as a digital platform where they provide – and employees find – the opportunities most relevant to their mutual benefit and success. As the employee experience is everything in the digital age, we have seen an increase in the number of clients interested in developing a more targeted and relevant user experience – something far beyond that of a traditional internal career site. With many clients now shifting towards agile talent pools of internal candidates, a fully personalized opportunity marketplace has the potential to empower both employer and employee to close skill gaps and do more with less in the face of 2020’s omnipresent uncertainty.

Trend #3 – Organizations Shift Towards Direct Sourcing Contingent Models

Another important trend worth noting is in regards to the gig economy. What we have observed in recent months is that the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic is actually driving many of our clients towards a contingent, project-based hiring model. Interestingly, this shift is being fueled in large part by the widespread contingent worker layoffs of March, April and May, as previously unavailable, top-tier contingent contractors are suddenly – and unexpectedly – seeking project-based employment on the open market. Organizations looking to hire have taken note, and we expect many of our clients to begin embracing a contingent workforce model with a strategic focus on projects, not positions.

While this type of talent sourcing typically involves a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or a Recruitment Process Outsourcer (RPO), a number of clients have sought to streamline their sourcing efforts with the implementation of a direct model via an independent talent network. Much like the opportunity marketplace for internal candidates, clients envision something similar to the Contractor Exchange Marketplace we launched in 2018 with longtime partner Accenture – i.e., a branded digital solution that builds agile talent pools, effectively engages contingent workers and encourages the best of the best to come back in the future and apply for new projects/positions.

Trend #4 – Organizations Take a Social Approach to Virtual Onboarding

As we previously mentioned, not all organizations have been forced to undergo hiring freezes and budget cuts in the aftermath of COVID-19. For many of our clients, talent acquisition efforts have actually increased as “working from home” has evolved to become the new norm. As such, many clients have been forced to implement non-traditional remote hiring models that test the limits of the candidate experience. With very real concerns regarding engagement, time to proficiency and employee retention, effective virtual onboarding is now a top priority across our customer base.

When it is all said and done, onboarding is not about the company, it’s about new hires. It is for this reason that “effective” translates to a virtual onboarding experience that is social, networked and focused on maintaining the human touch. Recently, we have worked with a number of clients to develop the digital tools and processes they need – from mentorship programs to branded pre-boarding communications – to provide new hires with such an experience, one that promotes a sense of community. An important part of this social formula are micro-learnings, also referred to as continuous learnings. As short-form, interactive and easy to consume video content, micro-learnings allow new employees to easily find, manage and share relevant lessons from the comfort of their new hire onboarding/employee hub.

With remote work and dispersed teams here to stay for the foreseeable future, a social approach to virtual onboarding will only continue to increase in importance and prominence.

To Conclude…

We should recall that with great crisis comes great opportunity. At Avature, we are helping our clients navigate these uncertain times with our revolutionary talent ecosystem – one that can adapt, evolve and grow as their needs change. Don’t hesitate to contact our talent experts today and learn how you can better navigate the unpredictable business landscape of our post-COVID-19 world.