Seven ways to prepare for the changing labour market

Pretty much everyone will have to adjust to the new normal in order to achieve their employment goals. Andrew Arkley offers advice to HR departments on how to retain, develop and recruit the best talent.

2020 was a turbulent year for businesses and job seekers alike – and by the look of it, 2021 will present even more challenges to go with the ongoing ones. Job seekers will need to be at the height of their game; getting comfortable with online interviews, and present prospective employers with an expertly crafted CV can help an applicant present themselves in style with minimal effort.

Companies, and their HR departments in particular, will also have to adjust their talent acquisition strategies to account for emergent economic and societal shifts.

Boost employee engagement and loyalty

During a downturn, workers tend to feel less engaged, motivated, and loyal to their employers. Employees seriously preparing to jump ship and then actually going through with it can become a real problem for many companies during such periods – and it’s an issue that’s easier to prevent than to deal with after it emerges.

It’s HR’s job to do just that, by implementing initiatives that boost employee morale and engagement. Fostering a culture of belonging and loyalty, as well as focusing on well-being and mutual support, is crucial during periods of high stress, such as the current one.

Finding the right candidate to fill a position is always easier said than done – especially if that position is one of authority and responsibility

Now, more than ever, employees would appreciate being given insight into how their company functions and what their role in the greater scheme of the business is. Knowing how a company functions and seeing that it is run well is immensely reassuring for workers and does wonders for company morale.

Collect meaningful feedback

Collecting, analysing, and modifying company policy according to the feedback of employees is one of HR’s most important duties in a modern company. It is an aspect of business that can easily get overlooked under the current chaotic set of circumstances – but it is actually crucial for preventing much more serious problems down the line.

Put quite simply, worker feedback is critical for improving a company’s business process and tailoring managerial approaches to each individual situation. It is invaluable for figuring out each employee’s needs and making sure that they are met. This, in turn, is crucial for retaining talent.

Focus on training programmes

Always improving employee qualification is an important aspect of business for quite a few reasons. Although budgets may be tight, an investment in extra training is always a worthwhile endeavour, as it also has a positive effect on employee morale and gives workers perspective.

Furthermore, highly trained employees make a workforce more productive, flexible and fit for internal shifts.


This last part is important, as upwards mobility and expanding an employee’s options for career advancement is something that’s very important for workers nowadays. Training programmes are a great way for a company to demonstrate to their employees that they can achieve more and aspire for a higher position. 

Facilitate internal mobility

Finding the right candidate to fill a position is always easier said than done – especially if that position is one of authority and responsibility. Even seasoned recruiters using top-of-the-line methods and all available options can have a hard time producing worthwhile candidates in this climate.

This is why recruiters should consider looking inwards when faced with the task of hiring the right person for some positions. Sideways and upward mobility is crucial for maintaining important projects running, as well as keeping employee satisfaction high. Don’t be afraid of moving workers to higher priority processes or to a position that would suit them better when necessary.

Practice flexibility

With so many physical, social and legal constraints suddenly applying to companies in every industry and their employees, HR has had to reinvent many aspects of business just to keep companies afloat. Many old, tried and true practices had to be dropped overnight in favour of more flexible positions when it comes to hiring, retention, managing employees and their schedules, etc.

Millennials and GenZ workers valued flexibility and freedom long before COVID-19 turned the world on its head, and it’s up to HR to keep them both satisfied and productive. To do this successfully, HR needs to think outside the box, be willing to compromise, and be flexible in their practices.

Invest in IT-driven solutions

Nowadays, there is a plethora of AI-based tools that can make HR’s work quicker and more efficient. Chatbots can answer the most frequently asked questions, sparing HR valuable man-hours. Organisational network analysis systems can help survey and collect invaluable employee data.

Natural language processing tools can make analysing that data significantly easier. Companies need to invest in and utilise all of these tools if they want to keep productivity up and stay competitive.

Look For freelancers

For many businesses, 2020 brought the realisation that they don’t always need an in-house solution for all their problems and needs.

There are some instances when freelance work would suit their needs just fine. It’s now HR’s job to do active networking and keep a wide range of contacts for occasions when freelance work needs to be done. This means that exploring all the platforms where freelance work is done alongside job offer platforms will have to be the way forward for HR.


About the author

Andrew Arkley is founder of Purple CV.


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