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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically alter the way workers view the future of work as well as reshape in-demand skills. According to a new survey, many workers across regions remain concerned about returning to work, while the need to adapt to certain hard and soft skills increases. As many workers remain remote, focusing on safety planning while investing in employees’ learning and mental health will ensure that employees can navigate the next normal.
In a survey of over 8,000 people across 8 countries, ManpowerGroup explored the future for workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically alter work and lifestyles. Across the globe, workers have felt the impact of COVID-19, with their major concern after health being the return to old ways of working, particularly in losing the flexibility they’ve gained. Eight-in-ten respondents want the future of work to have a better work-life balance, and 43% believe this is the end of the traditional 9 to 5 workday.
Indeed, remote work remains an attractive option for many, not just for the safety it brings, but the flexibility it brings as well. The survey’s global results revealed that for most countries, workers shifted to the remote environment. Mexico and the United States were the most likely to work from home or self-isolate, and are also the most anxious about the return to work, along with the United Kingdom and Spain.
Across generations, Baby Boomers are eager to return, as they prefer in-person collaboration and maintaining space between their work and home, while millennials are least eager to return, feeling the most anxious about losing their flexibility. Mobility professionals can lead the way in the safe return to work by staying on top of safety policies and planning, ensuring that employee needs are put first and duty of care is adhered to.
Just as the physical working environment has changed, COVID-19 is reshaping in-demand skills according to the report. Skills shortages in tech, for example, are now exacerbated as the demand for cyber security, data analysis and software development increase the need for professionals who can meet these challenges. Digital transformation has occurred for many companies throughout the pandemic as the workforce becomes more digital. Mobility professionals can leverage technology to help companies meet the digital demand for talent, utilizing digital tools for talent management.
At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis has increased the need for human-centered soft skills. It’s an unprecedented era of uncertainty and as a result, workers and their leaders need to be skilled in areas such as communication, empathy, and relationship-building. While remote work is often a preferred method these days, it’s not for everyone, so it’s important to consider the needs of all employees. Understanding the toll that the pandemic has taken on mental health and wellness is crucial for helping workers navigate feelings of fatigue, overwhelm and burnout.
As certain skills gain prominence during this time, leaders can look to Learning and Development (L&D) strategies that foster employee growth. While workers are remote, utilizing technology to meet L&D needs is essential, and leaders can do this by investing in virtual learning opportunities such as micro-learning, virtual learning sessions, and simulations. For mobility professionals in particular, the Worldwide ERC® Learning Portal offers a collection of online professional development courses and learning options that enable mobility professionals to expand their industry knowledge, earn badges and pursue continuing education credits. Skill building is also available through an investment Worldwide ERC® has made in LinkedIn Learning for premium subscribers.
Work is likely to continue changing for the time being, leading to a landscape of new strategies to help navigate an uncertain time. By focusing on safety planning while investing in employees’ learning and mental health, companies can ensure their employees are looking towards a brighter future.
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Mobility is Worldwide ERC®’s monthly magazine, delivering industry and business news and updates, as well as insights on global talent mobility programs, tips and trends.