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Recruitment as an engine of recovery and growth

Nicole Sahin, founder and CEO, Globalization Partners


The recent global coronavirus pandemic has thrust everyone’s lives into disarray and disrupted markets around the world. Organisations now need to quickly adapt to the on-the-ground realities of the markets in which they operate or want to operate, in 2021 and the new reality we find ourselves in.


Tasked with managing the shift from response to recovery, business leaders are already evaluating how to reconfigure staffing plans for competitive advantage and long-term stability. As they engage in this process, HR leaders will need to utilise the valuable learnings of the COVID-19 crisis to enable the resilience the enterprise will need to rebound – and sustain - performance and growth.


Orchestrating recruitment for agility


HR leaders have utilised tried and tested methods to design workforce strategies in response to the major economic, technological, and demographic forces that confront high performing enterprises – globalisation, the ageing workforce, digitalisation, financial downturns, and the impact of climate change.


But as the enterprise looks to seize new opportunities, refocus business capabilities and tap into the evolving demand for products and services – wherever that may be – these strategies need to be redesigned to cope with the demands of business that are emerging in the post-pandemic recovery and growth.


Developing an adaptive recruitment strategy to enable greater business flexibility will be critical to ensuring that companies can attract the talent they need to be successful. For many organisations, the pull of new international opportunities means expansion into new territories will be in the cards. Others that already have an international presence will be looking to refocus their resources on economies that offer the most promise – or scaling up their expansion plans for entering additional markets fast.


Prior to the pandemic, economic power was already steadily shifting. The emerging middle class in Asia had already been identified as a growing foundation for economic progress and growth, with Asian economies projected to account for 60% of global middle class consumption by 2030. Similarly, many enterprises were already investing in new ‘connect and develop’ ecosystems designed to fast-track innovation and market entry – a move that’s likely to accelerate as the need for competitive speed becomes an urgent enterprise priority.


Tapping into new talent streams in new ways


With revenue diversification likely to feature high on 2021 agendas, recruitment strategies will need to evolve fast to cope.  The need for speed means HR leaders will explore creative new approaches that will rapidly support international expansion and diversification in whatever form that takes.


That will include everything from making it easy to hire ‘one person’ in new territories, to sourcing and recruiting talent through local partners, as well as identifying – and capturing - where specialist labour can be viably sourced.


In the past decade, higher education capacity in India and China has undergone a massive ramp-up, with disciplines like engineering, computer sciences, economics, and accounting ranking as the most sought after graduate disciplines. The vast untapped economic potential of this highly educated workforce, combined with modern communication technologies that make borders obsolete, make these geographies a prime talent target as companies look to diversify their workforce with excellent talent in lower cost jurisdictions.


Business-as-usual versus disruption


If nothing else, the recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of the virtual workforce model for maintaining business-as-usual operations. As organisations plough ahead with reviewing international markets, HR leaders will need to evaluate the implications of digital platforms with regard to enabling a flexible global workforce – and how this makes it easier to move jobs and opportunities to the locations that will serve the business best.


One thing is for sure. Organisations that invest in digital platforms and the right infrastructure will be better equipped to deploy coherent business-as-usual strategies that can cope with any disruptive development. That includes working with external service providers to cover shortfalls or support short term tactical business initiatives designed to ‘test the waters’ prior to making any long-term investment.


Learnings gleaned from the response to Covid-19 have highlighted how eliminating the risk of resource shortages is already driving critical new thinking on how the workforce is recruited, deployed, and motivated to perform. Now HR leaders will need to build on this to direct human capital where it’s needed the most.


Up the conversation quota with business leaders


Understanding what business leaders need to boost long-term productivity will be key to ensuring the right recruitment operations are put in place. So, regular communication with those responsible for repositioning products and services will be key to knowing which markets the enterprise plans to serve – and through which channels.


Understanding their recovery timelines, recovery strategies, and where the demand for talent is likely to ramp up first and fastest is just the start to priming appropriate ‘go to market’ hiring plans that will deliver within the timeframes the business requires.


Navigating the new normal requires a cohesive response and recovery programme that propels speed and agility across the enterprise. With business leaders under pressure to capture value and revenue fast, they’ll be looking to re-allocate resources to new markets and initiate agile operating models that can cope with demand shocks. HR leaders that understand how and where to focus resources to drive progress forward in these areas will be best positioned to spur the innovation, diversification needed to capture the opportunities on the horizon.


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