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What Covid-19 has taught us about the skills your organisation should always have

By Jackie Mordue, Regional Managing Director at Hays

In the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, leaders have had to rapidly change aspects of their organisations and are finding themselves in need of certain skills to ensure they come out the other side of this pandemic in the best form possible.

The top priority for many business leaders is keeping their organisations afloat now and ready to come out the other side of the pandemic thriving. To do this, they’ll need some key soft and technical skills among their workforce.

Here are four which employers and employees alike ought to focus on as we move forward into a new era of work.

Strong communication abilities
Managing a remote working team is a unique challenge new to many employers, who may have grappled with barriers to communication across their team and their wider business. This has definitely put the ability to communicate effectively under the spotlight in today’s remote world of work, but by no means does the importance of strong communication only come to the fore in trying times.

Today’s employees are using multiple methods of communication, from video calls to instant messaging apps and traditional email. This has put our communication skills (and sometimes patience) to the test, which is why I think it’s top of the list for skills an organisation should always have.

Employers hiring in today’s job market should keep a look out for good communication skills, evidenced by cues like a strong introduction, open and engaged body language and strong eye contact.

Project and change management skills
Shifting social distancing restrictions and major adjustments to the world of work show no sign of abating, heightening demand for project and change management skills to guide organisations through this period.

The roles of project and change managers do overlap – crucial to both are a solid understanding of IT systems and software as well as confident people management skills. Sometimes the responsibilities of these roles are incorporated into a number of different management roles.

Having an expert driving force which is equipped to lead and manage change is crucial for our current and future world of work, so if this isn’t in place in your organisation, either build these responsibilities into existing roles or consider assigning a new role exclusively to ensure you’re able to stay ahead of the curve.

Technical and digital literacy
Even the most technology resistant of us are having to get to grips with new tools and software just to carry out our day to day jobs, showing that we all need to have some degree of digital literacy no matter what industry we’re in. Without fully fledged IT teams and professionals who are savvy with tech, we wouldn’t have been able to make the widespread shifts to working from home that we have done in recent times.

As the pandemic has certainly shown the value of strong IT skills, it is likely that businesses will only be looking to increase their use of technology once normal working life resumes. Employers ought to consider digital literacy as a priority in their talent development plans and make sure that any investment into new technology is coupled with sufficient training to support their workforce in getting the most out of it.

Adaptability and flexibility
This one shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as the onset of the pandemic has required almost all of us to be adapt to changes in our jobs. Employers need adaptable and flexible staff now more than ever, who don’t shy away at the possibility of disruption.

As a leader, lead from the front by being receptive to new ideas yourself, being curious, challenging the status-quo and bouncing back when things go wrong. Encourage diversity of thought too, as when things are uncertain and constantly changing, the least helpful mindset for a team is a unilateral one. Varied and diverse opinions are key to staying adaptable.

While we hopefully won’t be bear witness to anything like the current crisis for some time, it certainly shows us what skills are crucial for organisations to have if they are to stay afloat amid the current uncertainty and cope with change in the future. Skills are the new currency to pay for a smooth journey through this, so make sure your organisation is honing in on the right ones.