Pandemics are societal-changing events. The catastrophic loss of life caused by the Black Death (70-200 million) led to a fundamental change in the way humans think, and is seen as the catalyst of handover from the Late Middle Ages to the Renaissance and, by extension, modernity. A massive cholera outbreak amongst British troops in the Crimean War led to Florence Nightingale modernizing field hospitals and introducing hand-washing to doctors and staff (hand-washing was once as controversial as mask wearing in some circles - the tragedy of Ignaz Semmelweis is a one illustration of this).
The New World was born from plague. After the Haitian Revolution, the great armada Napoleon sent to restore slavery in Haiti failed, because the slaves from Africa had immunity to yellow fever - which had broken out on the island - that white Europeans who were in Napoleon’s army didn’t have. It led to full Haitian independence. The loss of the colony led Napoleon to abandon plans to hold on to New Orleans, and ultimately his surprise offer of the entire Louisiana Territory to the nascent United States, quite literally doubling the size of the country.
The pandemic of 1918 broke the back of colonialism, but also helped usher in South African apartheid, and laid the groundwork for WWII.
They have broad impacts, in other words. And, they have their micro impacts, as well. RNN will be looking at these trends over the coming months. Here are just a couple that caught our eye.
New Roles Emerging
As the talent industry, and society as a whole, has adapted to the impact of the Covid-19, we have already seen changes. HR and recruiting are changing, and becoming more critical than in years past. Roles and technologies which were - as of January 2019 - considered to be future-state by many organizations, became immediate. Video interviewing is one of the most prominent examples of this. The need to continue hiring, even remotely, drove process and organizational changes. Leaders described becoming front-of-house when it came to IT and financial support for initiatives that were considered nice-to-haves (at best) in the past. Hiring managers became actively engaged in recruitment-process improvement initiatives, embracing remote interviewing as a necessity, and consistently using the tools they were provided.
Along with that: Pool Ambassadors. Organizations have created new roles to respond to the impact of Covid-19 - MGM Grand Resorts had to create a role to police their pools to remind people to enforce rules around social distancing, mask wearing, etc. To source for that, the team had to find roles with tangential skills, source for them, and then recruit. The process was fascinating.
Indeed is showing 102,096 jobs involving Covid as of this writing, with the word Covid appearing in over 5,000 job titles.
REED Global, a UK-based recruitment agency and services company, recently compiled a list of some of the Covid-19 roles they have seen over the course of 2020:
HBR recently published the findings from a joint initiative between The Cognizant Center for Future of Work and Future Workplace which laid out some of the HR roles they see emerging in the near-future. A number of the roles they're looking at near-term are directly related to the pandemic:
Get Ready to Upskill
One of the most exciting - and promising - trends to emerge from 2020 was the rise of upskilling. As the technology gap has widened over the past decades, there have been attempts to upskill (or, reskill) people who's jobs are disappearing due to trends such as automation. Until 2020, many of those attempts were lip-service, at best, and often resisted by the people they were intended to help. As mass layoffs hit global economies, multiple organizations and governments formed partnerships to offer skills-training at scale. From the LinkedIn/ MSFT/ Github Global Skills Initiative, to Amazon rolling out a $700 million dollar investment in corporate training (and reskilling) initiatives, the year saw big bets here. Expect L&D software to continue to accelerate and innovate as a result.
“Since the pandemic started, companies are fast-tracking their embrace of digital technologies,” said Gianni Giacomelli, chief innovation officer at business transformation firm Genpact, and head of innovation design at MIT’s Collective Intelligence Design Lab. “They are enabling people to learn wherever they are, whenever they want, on any device.”
Learning and development vendor Udemy conducts an annual survey of over 500 L&D professionals - upskilling saw major spike in 2020, according to their research:
And, don't assume upskilling relates purely to tech skills. Many of the skills relate to adjusting to this new world. From time-management, to how to conduct a remote interview, there's a range of training that is being implemented.
RNN will continue to dig into, and share our findings, the wide range of ways this pandemic is shaping the world of talent. Upskilling/ reskilling will likely drive additional internal recruitment and mobility, for example. The odds that we return fully to the office are slim at this point - virtual tools will continue to evolve, and processes will adapt to as well as shape innovations. Gig work has gained a massive headwind over the past 12 months, and any labor movement of that level will bring with it a complex response. 2021 will be an exciting year - and it's our fervent hope that it's a positive excitement.
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