In a fast-changing world, attracting and maintaining talent has become increasingly difficult for companies. For leaders, a flexible mix of soft and hard skills have is of the essence to tackle company needs that have arisen during the pandemic if companies are to retain and develop their talent and thrive in the process.
“Before, it was more important to zone in on what we wanted to achieve. Now, we are focusing more on how we are going to reach those goals,” said Gabriela Villavicencio, Head of Human Resources and General Affairs, Hyundai. The wellbeing of the people working for the corporations is an important part of this journey.
The pandemic revealed the adjustments companies must make to adapt to a new reality. A key factor is operational flexibility, creating a balance between person and company to successfully confront the disruption of the workplace. Instead of at the office, companies now operated inside the houses of their employees. This phenomenon intensified the long-standing need for mental health support inside organizations. Leaders were put to the test: they had to empathize with colleagues and ensure collaboration remained efficient in spaces that were not geared toward teamwork.
“Currently, the issues that require the most innovative approach are not necessarily rooted in technology, but in the need to look toward new ways to cooperate,” said Fernando Valenzuela, Founding Partner, Global Impact EdTech Alliance. Consequently, leaders had to transform and prioritize skills that they did not previously use to motivate workers and understand their daily tasks more deeply.
Adapting the skillset is crucial for those outside of the executive environment, too. “Companies must acknowledge that work dynamics change and that there is a need to look for different skills,” mentioned Mireya Rangel, HG Director Mexico and Central America, Indra. Even though people are getting paid for the skills they already have, being agile and learning new skills is starting to be more relevant, she added.
For potential hires with an adequate skillset, the experts are seeing an international “war for talent” emerge. To win the war, companies must look toward the future, not just to retain talent but to be successful in their operations, too. “Organizations need to be aware of how the global economy is evolving to understand the types of skills that will be demanded in the future,” said Karlo Mondragón, Chief Human Resources Officer, Grupo Salinas.
There is often a large gap between the individual priorities of employees and those of the company, so the experts say that the challenge is to close that gap as much as possible by aligning the employees with the importance of competence enhancement and sustained learning. “Human beings learn what they want to learn. This must come from an internal sense of purpose. Our brains do not care about our success but about the coherence of our actions. Learning is an action that helps us achieve something,” noted Mondragón.
For this learning to thrive, companies “need to create an environment where people feel free to take decisions with responsibility. This will lead to the generation of ideas that can support the company’s adaptation to changes and ensure it grows as an organization,” said Mondragón, adding that an environment of experimentation is where innovation flourishes. Furthermore, companies must understand that a person will cannot learn if there is something bothering them. Therefore, compassion and empathy are some of the most important characteristics of a modern business leader. Executives must have a good balance in their hard and soft skills, as one is no longer more important than the other. “If you do not put the human being front and center in the company culture, then it will be difficult to break harmful traditional ways of thinking, leading and learning within the office environment,” Rangel concluded.