Planning For Success After COVID-19: Talent Strategy

2021-07-08 |  Ruari Scullion

What is changing?

The pandemic has accelerated concepts that have been well-known to HR Directors since long before we’d even heard the word ‘coronavirus’.

Hybrid working, the remote workforce, accessing trapped-value – all things that have come to the forefront of C-suite agendas as we seek to recalibrate how daily work-life looks in the ‘new normal’.

A recent FT article said that executives should be asking themselves three key questions regarding talent:

  • What skillsets and mindsets will be needed to operate, grow and evolve?
  • How should we augment sources of talent to meet our needs in the future?
  • Where can we access fast, trusted skills and capabilities if critical talent is unable or unwilling to return to the workplace?

In short, the pandemic has tested many companies’ resilience in terms of their operations and access to talent, but it has also provided opportunities to review, reassess and redefine what will be needed in the medium-to-longer term.

How will this impact you?

On a daily basis, organisations are getting employee feedback that they want to work remotely more often. They want the tools and technology to allow them to work in a way that suits their circumstances, and they expect those changes to be delivered in the short-term.

This is reflected in a number of organisations moving to hybrid working models, though some – particularly within capital markets – have clearly stated their desire to return to the more traditional way of doing things as soon as possible.

This poses a question for employers – where will you sit on that scale and how will you communicate that with your teams? Your answer will likely have far-reaching implications in terms of attracting and retaining talent.

It also opens up the opportunity for companies to consider talent hubs, hotspots or hidden talent that was previously out of reach. A clear decision on where you’ll look for talent will be central to your strategy.

What do you need to do about it?

Your organisation should look to address those questions in the following ways:

Existing skills and capabilities mapping

Review the skills and capabilities you have in-house, and how they align to your existing needs, strategies and objectives.

This effectively amounts to a ‘current state’ analysis of what skills you have and, critically, where they are. This analysis should be augmented with any resource planning analysis underway, if only to show how teams had expected to grow before everything changed.

This exercise will achieve two things – it will give you a complete picture of your organisation’s skills and capabilities. It will also highlight where the gaps in your talent pipeline exist, or where value is going down because of increased costs. It will give you a clear understanding of what changes need to be made.

Future skills

Many organisations are working hard to predict what skills they will need in the future. It’s critical to get this right to know what will become highly prized, and what could become obsolete. We have seen so many companies taking their first steps into the worlds of RPA and AI as they look to deliver repetitive, non-value-adding processes more efficiently. This also questions the way in which traditional workforce planning is done – you’ll need to be more flexible and faster at identifying and delivering required skills.


What role does the workplace play in future talent strategies? We’ve written previously about the importance of developing the right location strategy and having the right workplace, and both of these remain critical when reviewing your talent strategy.

Will the remote model allow you to access previously untapped pools of talent? Will it make you review your offshore operations if talent can be attained at similar costs nearshore? Will it encourage your organisation to move further afield if regular office-based work is less important in your new working model?

All of these questions should be answered to ensure your talent strategy remains fit for purpose and able to support your growth ambitions. 

How can we help?

Defining your talent strategy is becoming an increasingly complex but powerful way to differentiate yourself in the post-pandemic world.

We have supported organisations in assessing and implementing their talent strategies through our Future of Work proposition. This holistic proposition covers talent strategy, location strategy, the workplace of the future, and operating model design and implementation.

If this or any of our other related COVID articles interest you, please get in touch with Helen Clark.

Further reading:

Planning For Success After COVID-19: Operating Model

Planning For Success After COVID-19: Digitalisation

Contact Helen Clark:


Phone: +44 (0)7585 111 518

Connect on LinkedIn