Part 2: Work trends in a COVID-19 world

Recently, we discussed some top-level work trends in a COVID-19 world — remote work, flexibility, and resiliency. In this blog, we’re looking at work trends that are a little closer to our talent & solutions home base: the benefits of expanded talent pools, the wider use of contingent workers, and how critical skills and roles are changing.

According to a recent survey, two-thirds of executives reported that this moment in history will be the most challenging of their careers. Seems fair. But even with the challenges and uncertainty that accompany a global crisis, there are opportunities to innovate. And that’s the space where we — and all forward-thinking companies — want to exist. 

Let’s take a moment to reimagine the way we do business and find ways to work together to build a stronger, more resilient American workforce. 

Expanded talent pool

If nothing else, the pandemic has proven that we accomplish amazing things if we put our minds to it. Five months ago, who would have imagined that we’d be meeting virtually, onboarding new talent from our dining room table, and running the dishwasher 83 times a week? Yet we’ve done it. Companies are still running and we’re still working to make it all work. (And, yes, there are still dirty dishes in the sink.) 

Here’s the great thing about living in a virtual world: we’re no longer limited to local talent. It’s like being able to conduct an executive-level search for every position. With remote hiring capabilities, your talent pool is now a talent ocean. 

When you commit to hiring remote workers, your global talent recruiter is free to go knocking on the doors of top talent — regardless of the candidate’s location. Plus, remote work gives your employees a unique opportunity to network and connect with peers from all over the world.

Wider use of contingent workers 

Many firms worried about another slump are hiring temporary or contingent workers rather than permanent employees. 

Nearly a third of U.S. companies plan to replace at least some departed full-time employees with temporary or contract workers, according to a recent Gartner survey of chief financial officers. That’s double the pre-pandemic share and 21.5% of all online job openings are for temporary or contract positions, up from 17% in January (USA Today).

Gartner analysis also shows that organizations will continue to expand their use of contingent workers to maintain more flexibility in workforce management post-COVID-19. They’ll also consider introducing other job models that have emerged during the pandemic, such as talent sharing and 80% pay for 80% work.

“Our research finds that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure,” said Brian Kropp, chief of research for Gartner’s human resources practice in USA Today. “While gig workers offer employers greater workforce management flexibility, HR leaders will need to evaluate how performance management systems apply to these workers and determine whether they will be eligible for the same benefits as their full-time peers.”

Contingent workers can also fill skills gaps for companies that are still hiring. Here at Vaco, we’ve noticed that even with the job losses caused by the pandemic, many tech companies are still struggling to find qualified workers. Although the Nashville area — where Vaco is headquartered — lost nearly 150,000 jobs between March and June, the Greater Nashville Technology Council, found that 86% of respondents had not laid-off workers and more than 30% were still hiring.

In an interview with the NashvillePOST, Vaco managing partner Kyle Allen said, “Talent, for us, is still a shortage,” he said. “There’s a lot of people unemployed, but it’s not necessarily technology, accounting and finance …” 

Critical skills and critical roles are changing

The skills we need in a virtual world are different than those we prized in a time before COVID-19 and organizations are rising to the challenge in innovative ways. 

Earlier this month, the Times Union reported that “[t]o meet social-distancing requirements, many businesses have continued to conduct virtual interviews via video chat. And to train these new workers, companies are relying on virtual onboarding and training more than ever before. This month, Walmart opened a new training center in Loveland, Colorado, which will offer virtual training on leadership, safety, and supply chain foundations. Community colleges in Alabama are diving into virtual reality to train skilled workers, and now doctors and nurses are being retrained to treat infectious diseases using VR.”

Gartner notes that in pre-pandemic times, “critical roles were viewed as roles with critical skills, or the capabilities an organization needed to meet its strategic goals. Now, employers are realizing that there is another category of critical roles — roles that are critical to the success of essential workflows.”

To build the workforce you need to thrive in our brave new world, you’ll need to focus less on finding the perfect fit for a particular role and work harder to find talent with the skills you need to keep your company moving forward. 

We’ve been working hard to understand the rapidly evolving work trends in a COVID-19 world so we can serve you more effectively. We’d love to hear from you. Let’s work together to develop innovative talent solutions that address your emerging business needs, whatever they may be!
If you need a hand finding the right person and the right skills to help your company thrive, contact us. We would be honored to partner with you.

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