Here’s What Talent Leaders Are Focused on Right Now

November 30, 2020

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The talent community has never been tighter. While the pandemic hit talent professionals hard, forcing many to pursue new career paths, this adversity has also brought people together. From helping each other land new jobs to sharing best practices with peers at other companies, recruiters and talent leaders are eager to compare notes on recruiting trends and make the most of a challenging year. 

At LinkedIn, we’ve listened carefully to customer concerns, sat in on countless roundtables and peer-to-peer discussions, and combed through LinkedIn posts. After doing this work, we wanted to share with you what we’ve learned by compiling some of the most common topics that the talent community is talking about right now. These topics reflect both the challenges and the opportunities that the past few months have brought — and provide a glimpse into the future of work. 

1. Uncertainty looms large in certain markets, making passive candidates more reluctant to change jobs

While hiring continues to rebound in places like China, Singapore, and Australia, where the virus is relatively contained, the path forward is murkier for companies in Europe and North America. With cases surging, new political leadership in the U.S., and promising vaccines on the horizon, it’s difficult for businesses to make any predictions of what’s to come and to set their hiring strategy for 2021. 

That’s a challenge for talent leaders focused on workforce planning, but this widespread uncertainty is also affecting recruiters on the ground — even at companies that are hiring at high rates. That’s because passive candidates (those who aren’t actively looking for a new job) have been more hesitant than usual to leave their current roles. In a slow-rolling crisis like COVID-19, many employees simply value job security over new opportunities. 

“[Those] who might have considered a new role for more money [...] are not even discussing the possibility of new opportunities,” writes Joe McClung, who leads a recruiting firm for the medical industry. “The passive candidate is going to need more convincing….” he continues. “They are hunkered down and sticking with comfortable, safe, and familiar.”

That said, while it might be harder to peel away the most in-demand and happily-employed candidates, recruiters can still source high-quality active candidates. Unemployment is still historically high in many of these regions, and recruiters are well-positioned to make the stigma of unemployment a thing of the past by tapping into this valuable talent pool. 

Voices from the community on workforce planning in uncertain times:

2. Candidates expect more remote work flexibility, but many companies haven’t locked In long-term plans

Among companies that are hiring, recruiters are hearing one question from candidates more and more: “What are your remote work policies?” It’s a simple question, but the answer often isn’t as straightforward. 

Most companies have allowed employees who can effectively work from home to do so during COVID-19. But fewer companies have been clear about what their policies will be after COVID has passed. That’s not a huge issue for existing employees, but it can make things quite muddled for candidates trying to make a major life decision about where they’ll live and work. 

With a vocal minority of big-name companies making headlines by announcing long-term remote work policies, candidates may be starting to expect such flexibility as a given, even in a post-COVID world. 

“From our research we know that about three-quarters (77%) of employees want more flexibility at work in the post-COVID-19 era,” writes Alain Dehaze, CEO of The Adecco Group. Indeed, many talent leaders are coming to the conclusion that they’ll have to offer more remote flexibility if they want to stay competitive and attract top talent. 

Voices from the community on candidate interest in remote flexibility:

3. Hiring remote workers is a win for diversity, but a challenge for belonging

Perhaps the biggest upside of remote work is the fact that it makes it significantly easier for companies to build diverse workforces. The shift to remote work has been revelatory for many companies, some of whom said they struggled to find new talent from diverse backgrounds in their local markets. 

But diversity alone isn’t enough. At LinkedIn, for example, we talk about diversity, inclusion, and belonging. It’s been said that “diversity is like being invited to party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching.” To overextend that metaphor, remote work makes it easier to bring people in to your party, but makes it harder for people to feel comfortable dancing. 

Talent leaders understand that fostering a sense of belonging is critical for attracting and retaining employees, but some are beginning to worry that that sense of community could be lost without a physical office. That’s why companies will need to make sure that employees have opportunities to socialize, share, and be their authentic selves at work. 

“If an organization seeks to retain an engaged workforce through these times of social disruption and unrest [...] they must create a workplace and culture that puts people first,” writes Tara Spann, Chief People Officer at MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. “A culture of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging results in a highly engaged workforce and a great place to work, even if it’s not in the traditional office.” 

Companies are exploring new solutions to help that culture of belonging flourish virtually — from holding more one-on-one meetings to encouraging leaders to speak more openly about mental health.  

Voices from the community on diversity and belonging on remote teams:

Final thoughts

With news of vaccines on the horizon, there’s a lot of hope for what’s to come in 2021. 

And with the lessons learned from all the recent adversity, we’re optimistic that talent professionals will continue to share, discuss, and support each other through good times and bad. As always, we’ll be here to help facilitate those discussions and distill those learnings while shining a spotlight on the community.

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