Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

Post pandemic recruitment trends

Post pandemic recruitment trends

We are in the middle of a tumultuous convergence of three crises: health, economic and social justice. In some areas we need to layer on political upheaval. And we are not talking emerging markets here.

The “Coronacoaster” as it has been named, is creating upheaval and uncertainty in most markets. Some have been decimated. Many organisations started 2020 in a candidate driven market and in less than six months face a global depression. Any talent acquisition planning, when it existed, has been turned on its head. Almost all organisations are evaluating their headcount, even those that are profitable.

Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to make precise predictions, these are some observations.

Who is ahead of the game?

1. Know your data

With hundreds of millions of jobs are at risk globally and many organisations applying remote working policies, the hiring landscape has changed. Industries in some sectors are shedding headcount (retail, hospitality, airlines, tourism oil and gas) but others are hiring, but for different roles. In some geographies lock down restrictions are even being re-applied as a second wave of the virus hits. Victoria, Australia, has just declared a state of emergency with a new strict lockdown of 6 weeks.

In some ways the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already bubbling under the surface. With a current over-supply of open candidates, organisations should be able to have their pick of top talent, yet many have laid off in-house recruitment teams. Now is the time to be using inhouse skills to map out talent needs for the next maybe three years and creating a meaningful talent plan.  A three year plan is almost long term now. The immediate challenge will be coping with the high volume and sourcing the right type of talent. Pre – COVID19 time was lost attracting talent with some companies reporting being “ghosted” by sought after candidates.    

Businesses that have data and can tie their people strategy into commercial projections, will have an advantage. Being able to link those numbers to skill set shortage forecasts  (or even over- supply) succession plans and upskilling initiatives, will give those companies a critical market edge.   

2. Ongoing focus on the pipeline

During downturns, job seekers are traditionally more conservative and less likely to want to move in case they encounter a “last in first out policy” in their new company. Many businesses only source talent against an open role, so Talent Acquisition teams that have always focused on building up a talent pipeline, rather than simply filling specific openings, will be ahead of the game. For those companies with budget, which are savvy enough, this is the time to make contact with candidates who weren’t open in 2019, to fill that talent funnel. This could be the right moment to develop relationships with previously hard to find talent  Women in tech functions comes immediately to mind.

3. Relationship with Talent Development

Organisations looking at headcount reductions, may also have hiring needs in specific functions. It seems contradictory, but it is frequently the case. They should be looking at inhouse upskilling where TA works closely with L & D to assess who they can retrain. The need to de-silo talent acquisition and talent development is vital. The candidates or employees who are life long learners, able to navigate uncertainty, show flexibility and adapt to new realities are the ones to look for. You need systems in place to identify who they are in your company or pipeline, and assess their strengths. You should be looking for people who can find their way through the fog of ambiguity and not get lost in it.

4. Managing unconscious bias

Companies should always train everyone in the hiring process to manage their biases, with systems in place to support that initiative. You would be surprised how many don’t. We have to factor in a couple of old biases creeping to the top of the list in this new environment. A major one to watch is “unemployment bias” or devaluing those who are unemployed over passive candidates. Another one is attitudes to remote working. Many candidates for different reasons may need to work remotely while the virus is not under control. Organisations which have a tendency towards a presence culture should be mindful of exhibiting a bias against this demographic. You could rule out a high number of competent candidates.

5. Employee or gig worker?

This is going to impact organisations significantly as they try to stay agile and avoid high fixed payroll costs. Agility brings certain advantages, but requires a different type of thinking. Many inhouse TA specialists are not skilled or trained to assess contract workers and identify key competences gained in ways other than a linear corporate career. It raises questions as to who is responsible for skill development and who owns the hiring process. In many organisations contract workers are treated as vendors and are part of the procurement process. This will mean that a key part of the workforce  will no longer come under the remit of talent management and be more of business operations function. Is that what your organisation wants?

6. Employer brand matters

Candidates will be looking at the way companies responded to COVID19 and the subsequent lock down. Interestingly, according to a study by Gallup, in May 2020, employee engagement globally picked up during the pandemic, when employee wellness became a focal point. With health and safety as key drivers, employees are generally more satisfied with their employers than before the pandemic. This is despite remote working and being anxious about job security. It’s important to maintain that message in all internal and external communications.

Candidates are smart and can suss out situations where organisations were not transparent. They know when companies protected executive packages and treated lower level employees badly. Job seekers see right through the token 30% salary cut on a pay cheque of $60 million. Transparent communication is critical.

7. Analysts and market intelligence

In these times of uncertainty companies will rely more than ever those who can analyse data, spot trends and make reasonably reliable projections, or as accurate as anyone can. This allow will allow you  to mitigate payroll risk,  buy in outsourced services or engage contractors. Companies that had a crisis team and strategy in place, have been able to manage the pandemic better than those organisations that didn’t. They are probably in a better position to  anticipate any of the post pandemic recruitment trends

Organisations need to put creating a coherent and well thought out people strategy at the top of their agenda to weather the inevitable post pandemic storm.

But will that happen?

If you need support strengthening your talent pipeline  – get in touch now!


60 second video CV

Tips for your 60 second video CV

Last week I received nine and a half versions of a 60 second video CV. Why the half? One just simply failed to launch after about 30 seconds. They were set in bathrooms, bedrooms, in cars, on sofas and on bicycle trails. One looked and sounded like a ransom demand. Another like an emergency services call as the person appeared to be in cardiac arrest after a jog.

I was never a fan of video CVs basically because most of them, in the early days, were toe curlingly terrible. Then Amélie Alleman  Founder of Betuned a video recruitment service here in Brussels convinced me to have a well publicised change of heart  She showed me how a professionally crafted 60 second video CV can make a really great impact…. when it is well done.

Uptick the 60 second video CV

Since the global pandemic there has been an uptick in individuals sending out video CVs or video introductions or just plain old videos, of varying degrees of quality. In the very beginning I think everyone was prepared to cut the sender some slack and we all gave encouraging and solid feedback for a “good first effort.” I have done that myself with sincere and genuine intention. I did exactly that with recent graduate job seeker Owen Butcher’s  first Video CV.

But with numbers increasing the quality will need to go up. I wanted to give constructive feedback.

It’s all about the tech

Today, most people have the technology and smart phones are so sophisticated that a video CV can be easily used to create one. You don’t require super-advanced tech skills to produce a reasonable result. You only need a good smart phone, a quiet and well-lit room and you are good to go. In all of these things Amazon is your friend and a stand for making videos on a smart phone, with a remote and even a light are now relatively inexpensive.

The recommended length for a video CV is 50-60 seconds maximum as a supplement to a regular resume when even naysayers like myself can be persuaded to watch for that long. They can also be posted on Instagram. If someone suggests longer don’t listen. You will lose people like me who get dozens. Confidence without skill in this case is not enough and cute will no longer cut it.


There are some advantages if they don’t become cliché’d. They help you:

  • Stand out from the crowd – video CVs are definitely more common, but they are still not the norm by any means.
  • Showcase your personality – if you have a relaxed confident and engaging personality this is a good way to demonstrate it. If you don’t it can work against you.
  • Focus on specific skills – for roles that require communication skills or digital smarts this is an ideal medium.


  • You stand out but not in a good way – If you feel uncomfortable in front of a camera or don’t have or don’t acquire the necessary skills, it can become a career mistake not a triumph.
  • Give the wrong impression – you may give the wrong, incomplete or misleading information about yourself.
  • You read your script – if your eyes are darting off camera to check your script, you could come over as looking shifty and untrustworthy or simply that you don’t know yourself that well.
  • Distract and detract from your regular CV – if it’s not produced to the right standard, this may lead to the reject pile.

Tips to create strong video CV

1. Research the recipient

When deciding whether to use a 60 second video CV factor in the recipient and  the reason you are sending the video. You may find you will need multiple versions depending on the contact person and the reason for sending the video in the first place. It might be for a specific role or a teaser for the company you hope to join. Research the culture of the organisation to help you decide how your efforts may be received. You would not send the same video CV to me, as you would a peer or a hip 30-something.

One of the opening lines from last week was “Hey mate...” and the sender was filmed with outstretched arm recording a selfie-video, dripping with sweat, coming in from a jog. I don’t know if I got it by mistake. You probably need one for each demographic you are targeting.

2. Compelling, succinct message

This has to be about you and you message in line with the way you think the person can help you. This means creating a compelling UVP (Unique Value Proposition) which has to be in your DNA so you can deliver it comfortably and convincingly to camera. Don’t read your script.  Write and learn your message so that you deliver it authentically and it reflects your personality. Adapt it for each recipient and each role.

3. Target the content

For a general video you can upload it under the media section on your LinkedIn profile, and keep it general and in line with your overall career goals. Mention your key hard skills and achievements in your last role before lockdown. Unless you have been a first-line responder or you want to become a teacher or child minder, your lockdown activities will be of less interest. I would advise not taking up valuable seconds referencing those. Many of us have Mari Condo’d our closets and alphabetised our herbs and spices. We have all been resilient and refrained from killing anyone. Well.. most of us.

4. Structure the content

The rule of three works well in this context. Structure your video into identifiable sections. A beginning middle and end always works well.

  • an intro with your UVP
  • why me? Three good, brief reasons to engage with you
  • a call to action with your contact details.

If you have the skills you may want to consider captioning, especially for your mobile number, email and maybe your LinkedIn profile url. No one, will ever write the details down from a  verbal delivery. It also helps if you have a strong regional accent  – or you are recovering from a jog.

5. Look the part

Generally as for any interview to camera you should be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the organisation you are hoping to impress. If it’s a generic video CV, select something from your wardrobe that will bridge the gap between formal and informal. At a time when women are being told to dress “sexier online” (yep really) business presentable is totally fine. Guys please wear a shirt and lose the beanie, hoodie or base ball cap… unless you want to join a base ball team. In which case I would be no help to you whatsoever.

6. Select a good location

Choose the location for your video to ensure that you have a quiet, light space to film in, free from clutter and any other background distractions. Not your bed, bathroom or bike. (Really.)  Make sure your face is centred, well-lit and the audio reproduction is good. It’s a video CV, not a hostage situation. Once again an external mic could be helpful. If it’s muffled or inconsistent you will be sure to lose people like me. The biggest mistake is on camera position. No one wants to see up your nose.

7. Master the tech

This is something where older candidates may want to pay some attention to master editing software such Unfold, Canva or Over. Be brutal with editing and seek feedback from colleagues or friends. Fumbling around starting and ending don’t look great and takes up important seconds.

8. Upload on-line

Once your masterpiece is complete you can upload to You Tube or Vimeo on private settings or LinkedIn, and send the links to potential contacts or simply diffuse via social media. Use it in your email signature so that it goes out with every mail you send.

As more and more job seekers are going to use this device to grab attention, the ante is going up. Your effort will need to be top of the range.

If you need help with your job search  – get in touch now!  



unemployment bias

Time to call out unemployment bias

A hot topic in the career sector is whether job seekers should declare on LinkedIn via a hashtag system that they are #ONO (Open for New Opportunities) or saying they are Open to Work. A number of people suggest this is a “sign of desperation” and are discouraging candidates from taking advantage of it. These arguments are rooted in unemployment bias, or hiring bias as it is called in the US, or the stigma of being unemployed. Like any other biases, this is essentially a recruiter and hiring manager bias found in some recruitment processes, which needs to be managed.

Passive candidates

I find the idea of recruiters having a preference for passive candidates (those already in a job)  to be more of a US thing than European. Over here, unemployment bias shifted quite a lot (although not totally) in 2009 after the financial crisis. We are perhaps more used to and accepting of career gaps especially to avoid burnout and it’s becoming more common place for people to take a break.  I also think that if recruiters are not bias conscious and will not consider someone because they lost their job as a result of CV19 – they shouldn’t be recruiters. It has no correlation to competence.

Dominic Joyce, Lead Recruiter at Alexander Mann Solutions took a more robust approach and on one LinkedIn discussion called it “poppycock,” Brit-speak for nonsense. “when I recruit I look at the CV of the person not their situation. The world isn’t in a great place right now, from a health and financial perspective, the last thing we need is telling people that they’re coming across desperate because they’re trying to do all they can to try and secure themselves a job. Open to new opportunities does NOT scream desperation…”

Hard to hide

Studies from the W.E.F confirms what we already know. The global employment outlook is not positive. Input from the United Nations International Labour Organization projects 1.6 billion informal economy workers could suffer “massive damage” to their livelihoods. In the second quarter of 2020, COVID-19 may cost the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs. In a global pandemic when whole sectors have been wiped out or badly impacted (travel, aviation, hospitality, events, retail, leisure and fitness, personal healthcare, beauty, education) and companies have gone into liquidation, it will be impossible for job seekers to pretend they are employed. So why put them under that pressure?

Job loss from the pandemic has hit women the hardest. They already struggle with all kinds of other biases in the hiring process without having to contend with unemployment bias as well.

Analiese Brown VP, Talent & Culture @CampMinder who I have quoted before for a wise and inclusive approach comments: “Recruiters should realize that there are many outstanding candidates who are unemployed through no fault of their own and treat those candidates with compassion and respect instead of passing judgment. The burden is on the recruiter to recognize the structural factors contributing to the high unemployment rate, correct their biases against people who happen to be unemployed, and leverage the unprecedented number of available candidates in the market to bring great talent into their organizations. This approach is a win for all parties.”

Role of LinkedIn

There are a number of other elements. Pundits suggest that job seekers should flag up to recruiters on LinkedIn via an adjustment to their settings, that they are open for contact. Thus far, they have tended  to be US based, but many European job seekers are influenced by them. However, many recruiters don’t subscribe to LinkedIn Recruiter, as Katrina Collier, author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter and passionate advocate for treating people better in the recruitment process, points out. They won’t have access to that information anyway. Other hiring managers are simply putting ads in their streams, another way of by passing LinkedIn Recruiter.

Those without subscriptions will run Boolean strings, including #ONO or equivalent, through regular LinkedIn using the “People” tab. A hashtag makes it easier for hiring managers and recruiters to find candidates. The fact that LinkedIn is laying off over 900 people because of in part reduced sales across its platforms, one of them being LinkedIn Recruiter subscriptions, supports that theory.

30% of roles are found via network connections and referrals. Hashtag use is a one way of letting your wider network know that you are open for work. Finally, being open for work means that a candidate can start immediately.

Negative Psychological impact

Daniel Naghy, in Talent Acquisition in Barcelona directly pushes back against the notion of unemployment bias on LinkedIn “I have  a different perspective actually. Why do you demonize the phrase “being unemployed”? Of course many of us are and some of us are also desperate. Millions have been affected by the pandemic and some actually struggle to make ends meet. Should we all hide behind our ego and say everything is ok? I value authenticity and honesty when it comes to candidates.”

As a coach I understand the impact of pretence on someone and the need to validate a person’s experience. It doesn’t mean agreeing with their subjective experience but accepting and acknowledging their reality. This could be feelings of grief, confusion, anxiety and anger which are normal. We have all read about COVID Brain and how the world is experiencing a spike in mental health issues.

However, we should all be resisting the urge to encourage people to pretend that everything is fine, when it isn’t. If job seekers are catastrophising their circumstances, then any coach will help them reframe that experience and put it into context. This doesn’t mean homing in on the negative, or not creating a focused career strategy in the usual way.

For me, being able to say that that you are #ONO (or any other hashtag) takes courage, resilence and authenticity. We should be admiring those characteristics, not discouraging them. It is also a good way for organisations to demonstrate that they run an inclusive hiring process. promoting their employer brand in a positive way and highlighting their workplace culture. It’s time for CHROs to deal with any hiring or employment bias embedded within their recruitment processes rather than for job seekers to find fake work-arounds.

If your organisation looks for bias conscious recruitment processes and wants candidates treated with integrity get in touch NOW 



Covid19 Collective Trauma

Covid19 Collective Trauma

There is no doubt we are all part of a Covid19 collective trauma even though we all have different experiences of this crisis. Some are actually positive. Introverts love it and people who wanted to WFH actually want it to go on for ever.  But for many, the impact has been negative ranging from discombobulating at best, to traumatic at worst. Some are so severely impacted they feel they are exhibiting symptoms of PTSD.

My own experience

I noticed it in myself a few weeks ago, after 12 weeks into lock down. A slowing down, a lack of usual energy, not understanding something first time and an erratic sleeping pattern. I thought it was just me. Shortly after, I attended an online meeting where some action points were agreed which were confirmed in writing. The response a few days later from all those present was as if the meeting had never taken place. I wondered what was going on because it was so crazy making.

Problems of privilege

Participants in webinars and clients say that they need support to cope with the isolation and fatigue of working from home. Then they felt guilty because they recognise these as very first world problems of privilege. Most were not front-line workers facing the direct traumas of the pandemic putting themselves at risk every day.

A significant portion had not lost their jobs and been laid off via a group Zoom call. They had not been personally sick and feared for their lives and dealt with rehabilitation periods lasting weeks. They had not lost loved ones saying goodbye over an iPad or being able to hold a funeral. Most have not seen family for months (myself included.)

Some describe themselves as feeling disorientated and dazed. Others miss many elements of working physically in-person with their team. Groups miss random in person meetings, brain storming, meetings, lunches with colleagues, after work drinks, the reactions of their colleagues, the jokes and ribbing. Even the challenges and disagreements. They miss connection and connectedness.

Communal struggle

We are all struggling to deal with the uncertainty of not knowing what’s next.  We understand that the rules have changed, but feel ill-equipped to deal with the situation. Mainly we feel a lack of control with no end in sight. It’s the place between what used to be and what will be, It’s a bit like Linus’ blanket – the place in between, the intersection of waiting and not knowing.


Covid19 Collective Trauma

Even the most senior are not sure if their plans will work. I have never heard so many leaders say openly “None of us have dealt with something like this before. We’re working it out as we go along”

Actions for all

The most important thing for all of us is to:

  • talk openly about how we feel, but empathize with the situation of others. Everyone has something.
  • take concrete action to lobby for wellness and support programmes in our organisations
  • be supportive of others in our own sphere of influence
  • pay it forward and build our next normal

Being in between trapezes requires total confidence and trust in the catcher. This is part of the problem, because in some cases we don’t even know who our catcher is. But this COVID19 collective trauma crisis situation offers the opportunity for change. When we start to address the bigger picture, we have to take into account a diversity of needs and experiences and make sure we include those into our thinking, without slipping back to binary choices.

If your organisation need support for the next normal get in touch NOW. 

pandemic safety protocols

Reactions to pandemic safety protocols fuel problems for HR

People are slowly returning to work in different stages in various geographies. I have been very surprised to hear some of the experiences HR leaders are recounting around the implementation of pandemic safety protocols. This is not just an HR issue, but also a business and leadership issue. They are seeing a strong polarisation of reactions and different levels of either push-back or misapplication.

One of the areas of concern are the many potential outcomes from a business, legal and health perspective. Many are unknown. What will happen to an organisation if someone within the company falls ill with this deadly virus and infects their colleagues? Will the company have to go into quarantine again? Is there liability if it is caused by the negligence of an employee in the workplace and how can a company even know? This is all unchartered territory with no one having all the answers, let alone the right ones.

Collaboration vs individualism

Many safety precautions in our workplaces and wider cultures are based on understanding the problems and the consequences of not adhering to any safety protocols. Whether it’s wearing  seatbelts or protective clothing, not drinking and driving, putting kids in child seats in cars, everyone knows the reason behind the regulations and the consequences of not following them. People get sick, injured or die.

It requires a collaborative approach and everyone to follow the guidelines automatically, so those rules become embedded into workplace culture. It also involves a willingness to speak up when someone doesn’t pay attention and for everyone to be held to account with penalties for contravention.

Abuse of pandemic safety protocols

The different levels of response to pandemic safety protocols can vary from a belligerent position, passive aggression or inconsistent or incorrect implementation. These already starting to be a cause for concern for some HR leaders.

Tamara has started back to work with full social distancing protocols in place. Her organisation has gone out of its way to provide a duty of care. 20% of her department are in at one time. The flow of staff is carefully regulated with floors marking 1.5 metres with ubiquitous yellow tape. Desks are correctly spaced and Perspex screens separate employees as required. Hand sanitizer points have been installed and masks are required when moving around the office.

She has concerns about a colleague who she feels is not as vigilant in following the safety procedures both in the office and in his personal life. He shares stories about partying at “raves” in what are clearly not socially distanced conditions. She is concerned that he will be a vector. Her kindly reminders to him met an attitude. She is thinking of asking for a return to remote working to protect herself. When she flagged it up, her manager felt she doesn’t have the right to interfere with someone’s private life even though it may potentially impact his professional one.

Kane Frisby COO of DoveTail which produced The Ultimate Guide to Contact Tracing  believes that track and trace initiatives will be a key activity for HR leaders going forward and part of any HR help desk offering. We may see testing employees on a regular basis for COVID19 become part of an HR wellness programme or a Health and Safety initiative.

Has your organisation been impacted by COVID19? Check out the corporate coaching programmes to support your employees

Power playing and discrimination

The other factor that seems to be creeping in is power playing and bullying. Hugo told me how a senior manager made a joke about him being a “pussy” when he refused to shake his hand and elbow bumped instead. Hugo has a strong personality – but what if it was someone more easily intimidated?

Some employees feel reluctant to disclose details about their personal health or a situation within their family. This information has been private until now. It may mean that they have to work from home or look for a job compatible with social distancing. 

Joelle said “I work in sales and am diabetic. I don’t particularly want to broadcast that, because I have always managed the condition. Face-to-face meetings are fine if they are held under correct conditions. I prefer not to have to handle anyone who won’t follow the safety guidelines or have my refusal to attend in person meetings used as a reason to discriminate against me.”

Dr. Tanvi Guatam, Leadership Expert and Thought Leader and I discussed this in a virtual coffee.  It clearly has to be a leadership message and one that is followed through. She suggested the idea of a Social Distancing Officer someone who is responsible for the gentle, or not so gentle reminders to follow established procedures.

Accountability for behavioural change

It makes sense that organisations follow the same procedures as they would to promote any behavioural change. It could be around sexism, racism as well as health and safety. They have to: understand the problem and the consequences, know it when they see it and then they have to speak up and say something when there is a breach.

pandemic safety protocols

One HR manager suggested that employees should be required to sign a document with the pandemic safety protocols of the health authorities of their jurisdiction and attend an awareness training. Rather than relying on people to exercise common sense and do the right thing, it maybe necessary to allocate overall responsibility to someone who can oversee the situation and take steps to make sure that all safety measures are followed.

This is set against a background where some people are railing against the idea of a “cultural strategist” making them follow unnecessary rules.

Do comfort levels matter?

There are some people who genuinely believe the pandemic is connected to 5G. COVID19 and stupidity have something in common. There is no cure for either. Others think the virus is overblown and it should be about what people feel comfortable with and their beliefs around individual responsibility. One commentator said we need to get over COVID. Life is too short to play safe.”

The problem is that social distancing, mask wearing, and COVID-19 are not beliefs, but medical facts. It is true that different jurisdictions have given often confusing or conflicting advice on how to deal with the situation. The situation brings all sorts of potential legal issues and liabilities for organisations should an out break of COVID19 occur in their offices. What is clear is that this virus will be with us for a long time without a vaccine, if ever there will be one. Dealing with the misapplication or rejection of pandemic safety protocols either intentionally or otherwise, will be an ongoing challenge for organisations with a duty of care to employees.

Safe working environment

Analiese Brown VP HR at CampMinder commented on LinkedIn  that it is important not to do anything that is “wildly misaligned with current public health guidance and the ongoing (and, in many places, growing) risk. Though they may not have control over what employees do in their personal lives, employers should strive to create safe work environments, which includes setting expectations for continued social distancing for *everyone* on their teams, regardless of a particular individual’s comfort.” 

Need to support your HR wellness programme and training options around remote working? Get in touch NOW!


Continuous learning can no longer be a hobby

Continuous learning can no longer be a hobby

Will talent become an individual or enterprise asset in the next normal? One thing is certain: continuous learning can no longer be a hobby.

The discussion around who will be responsible for making sure that economies and companies have the right skills and talent for next normal is already cranking up. The pandemic has impacted our education systems and employers are laying people off and cutting budgets. This has accelerated the discussion on a deeper issue of whether talent is an individual or enterprise asset. This is followed closely by how do we make sure that individual and business needs are aligned in the post pandemic workplace?

Who is responsible for skill acquisition?

Opinions have always been split about who is ultimately responsible for individual skill development. Generally it seems to be based on cultural perspectives. Is it the individual who invests (a strong US approach I have observed) or the employer and/or government found in other geographies? The jury is out. But it could be the decision will be taken out of our hands in the next normal.

Pre-COVID19 many of us played around with learning something new in our spare time, mainly because we enjoyed it.  Sometimes we completed the course. Other times we didn’t. Today, continuous learning can no longer be a hobby, because it will be vital to our professional and economic survival.

The process of skill acquisition

The process of skill acquisition starts in our schools and universities. Any comments I might have on the education process itself would be about as convincing as Donald Trump sponsoring a #MeToo rally. So I won’t. I will just say that even before COVID19  we needed to refocus some complex questions around how effective our current educational curricula are to meet workplace needs. Is it even their role?

In a pandemic situation, it seems possible that remote learning programmes with a combo of distributed and classroom situations will become a feature of the way students learn going forward. That methodology once introduced may never change. This will involve looking at the infrastructure of schools and further education plus what and how we are teaching students. We will also need to and assess the skills of teachers to meet remote needs and then evaluating home schooling scenarios.

Parents know best? Not always

This concept assumes that non-school environments lend themselves to learning. This is not just about kids from less privileged backgrounds having reduced access to the internet or living space conducive to school work. It makes the assumption that parental influence is in the student’s best interests. Trust me it isn’t always. I’ve seen this in action personally dealing with helicopter parents

So let’s presuppose that students complete their formal education with some basic workplace skills that could be useful to organisations, what next?

Agility vs disposability

In the face of a global recession organisations are likely, post pandemic, to reduce the number of permanent employees and increase the number of contract and gig workers. This raises two questions:

  • How will organisations find the skills they need if skill acquisition is the responsibility of individuals with a self-managed career?
  • How will individuals know which skills to focus on? They will need to find a way to maintain their own relevance, employability and long-term economic viability.

Organisations will presumably need to hire for soft skills and then provide some sort of hard skill training to meet their own standards. Perhaps they may need go in the direction of the Dyson Institute which has started a university course to address the engineering skill gap. It is anticipated many traditional universities across the globe will face financial difficulties or even bankruptcy from the pandemic.

Personal development budgets

If increasingly skill acquisition becomes an individual responsibility, one thing is for sure continuous learning can no longer be a hobby going forward. We will all now need to allocate personal budgets for our ongoing professional education… for EVER. We certainly have to allocate far more than the 3% recommended by Brian Tracey. In many geographies professional development is considered a corporate responsibility. I have seen even senior executives on high six figure packages reluctant to fund their own career development. But the same people wouldn’t hesitate to drop a huge sum on a car, holiday or item of clothing. This will have to change.

Warren Buffett, one of the most successful businessmen in the world, said, “Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents; nobody can tax it or take it away from you.”

This will also add an additional pressure to the lower paid.

Contract vs alliance

Heather E McGowan, future of work strategist, who I have referenced before, talks about learning and adapting in a world which is changing exponentially. She suggests that continuous learning is the new pension. It will certainly protect us and our revenue stream. It requires an open mind set and a willingness to experiment with anything new. We have to grasp that old school analogue type skills will not transfer to the digital world without additional work and training. The mantra of “that’s not the way we do things here” will have to go or those using it will go under.

Agility for an employer means disposability for the employee. Organisations will have to accept that they offer a temporary, but fixed term alliance not just a contract. Included in that understanding will be a commitment to upskill an employee before they move on. The upside would be their professional contribution for the duration of their working period. Businesses may also have to accept that agility means making sure employees can be re-hired to maintain their employer brand if they want to attract top talent. They will have to offer skill training which they know in advance they will eventually lose.

Skills for the next normal

The global pandemic has accelerated changes or conversations that were already in the pipeline. It will require mindset shifts in so many areas of education and skill development and how we assess and value those skills. Those shifts will be required by parents, educators, individuals and organisations alike.  Schools and organisations will have to restructure.  Recruiters will have to learn to recruit for soft skills and hiring for potential will become more than a Twitter meme.

Talent in the next normal may well be covered by the new mantra “Let them grow and let them go.

Looking to strengthen your talent pipeline. Get in touch.




Back to work challenges for HR post COVID19

Back to work challenges for HR post COVID19

Back to work challenges for HR post COVID19 are not just about high-level strategy creation. Leaders are realising that life and death can literally be around small behavioural changes.

The global pandemic will have a massive impact on our workplaces with enormous back to work challenges for HR post COVID19 in the re-opening of business. And for once HR is in its rightful place – in the centre of the decision making process.

A Paris based HR Director told me “At Board level we are talking about significant change management and disruption scenarios. In practice, it’s down to the implementation of small daily changes to the workplace and the way we behave and interact which are vital. They can literally make the difference between life and death.” 

We need to change how, where and the way we work. It’s also probably unlikely that we will all go back to the life we knew.

Short-term needs

CHROs are obviously looking at all the elements of the HR function including training for remote working, review of hiring needs, health and well-being of employees, headcount adjustments and employee engagement. But talking to clients outside the initial strategy setting at leadership level, there is one relationship which is taking on increased importance and that is the relationship between HR, IT and facilities management.

Until a vaccine is found, a second wave of infection is possible unless we all take extreme care. Although the numbers have been contested, history has shown a massive resurgence of the 1918 Spanish flu when people stopped being cautious. One HR business partner told me “HR has always worked with facilities management and the health and safety function, but at the moment the interaction is increasingly important. We have to get it right.”  Managing physical and social distancing in the workplace is now a top business priority.

Wellness and security

Every element of  the way we structure our workplaces has to be evaluated and adjusted. This involves re-examining:

  • infra-structure changes
  • accepted behaviours and the way we interact
  • workflow barriers

All of this is going to be on trial and error basis, because we really are in unchartered territory. The general consensus seems to be to start small and trial various options.

Emergency infra-structure changes

These are short-term reactive measures. In most geographies employees will return in a split work pattern involving between 10% to 30% of the workforce at any one time.

Organisations will need to review their remote working policies to understand who really needs to come into the office and who can continue to work from home. If possible it should be a choice and the first employees returning should be volunteers. Research suggests that this being obliged to work from home impacts productivity.

Currently, particularly for those who have been self- isolating, or have an underlying condition, returning to work will be a source of concern. One CEO told me that “when people volunteer they are more likely to be objective and constructive in their comments than if they are anxious.”

Some organisations are only bringing in part of each function, so in the event of infection there is always back up form those still working remotely.

Practical measures to meet social distancing requirements

1. Pre-return

  • Deep cleaning of office space prior to return.
  • Car park spaces should be widened or alternated to allow 1.5m distance.
  • Install sanitizer dispensers at frequent points in the building.
  • Clear demarcation of space between desks with indicated movement flow around the office.
  • Work stations will be allocated to individuals. No more hot desking.
  • Provision of masks and gloves. Some companies are switching the content of their vending machines and dropping the crisps and cookies and replacing the compartments with PPE .
  • Physical distancing in meetings. Removal of chairs from meeting rooms.
  • Guidelines around number of people allowed in lifts and meeting areas at any one  time. Taped markings and standing circles.
  • Glass or Perspex protection on reception desks and work stations next to thoroughfares to create a COVID19 safe environment.
  • Tape to delineate physical distancing space in bathrooms. Taped off hand basins.
  • Disconnecting coffee machines and water coolers.
  • Recycling bins for plastic waste.
  • Public hygiene reminder posters and “nudges.”
  • Regular and open communication via “workstreams” or designated communication channels.

2. Return

  • Staggered start so everyone doesn’t arrive at the same time.
  • Organisations split into teams of “on and off” or “in and out” weeks.
  • Transport support. Those travelling on public transport will be a higher risk. Some companies are providing taxi vouchers or a private bus service from a collection point. Others are only allowing employees who have their own transport to return to the office.
  • Employers may ask staff to wear gloves and masks, which is not comfortable.
  • Temperature checks on entry to the office.
  • Visible increase in cleaning presence. Regular disinfecting of door handles, stair rails and communal areas. Most companies have an out-sourced daily cleaning service when the office is closed. Now many are going back to hiring the old-school in-house clearer for this specific function.
  • Provide lunch boxes with a daily online ordering system.
  • Employees to provide their own drinks.

3.To be considered

  • Potential testing of employees. This is a very sensitive area which is still being tested in Asia.
  • Monitoring of air quality. 
  • Moving office workers to shifts: Week 1 and Week 2.


How leaders communicate these new protocols will be key and enforcing them will require sensitivity and empathy. The most common message is that all employees want consistent and regular communication from their leaders. One of the most noticeable changes is senior managers being willing to say “We are all learning as we go along. None of us know what will work and what won’t.”  

I asked my HR Director contact which topic came up most in these back to work challenges for HR post COVID19.  She said “One thing. Yellow marking tape.”  

Get in touch if you need support on training remote teams. Hint: it’s not about the tech!




Career opportunities compatible with social distancing

Career opportunities compatible with social distancing

Social distancing is going to change the way our organisations are structured and by default the career and job search landscape. In 2016, I identified an emerging trend which I call a “cluster career.”  This is a series of diversified revenue generating professional activities, operating sequentially or simultaneously. This not be confused with a career cluster which is quite different. Seeking out career opportunities compatible with social distancing in a post Corona virus workplace is going to require a significant mind shift for all involved: job seekers and hiring managers and recruiters.


Impacted sectors

Social distancing regulations will impact the roles of anyone in people facing jobs or roles involving large groups, which will change dramatically in the short-term. Hospitality, travel, leisure, and events are all sectors which will be hit by the effects of the lockdown and steps to mitigate risk associated with the virus. So how are people going to cope to as they look for new revenue generating activities?

Over the years we have all been moving away from the idea of a linear career and the concept of a portfolio career has also been around for a while. The expansion of the “gig”, on demand or collaborative economy is a key part of that shift. It is estimated that an even higher percentage of workers in the post corona workplace  will be on demand, as organisations move to get businesses back on track.

Cluster Career

In 2016 I took a look at the Cluster Career concept which takes diversification one step further than a portfolio career, which taps into transferable skills. A cluster career involves multiple activities in seemingly unrelated fields. Back then I saw two options:

  • One activity at a time, in rotation. I wrote about Pete (The Feet) a marine engineer, who is also a chiropodist.
  • Multiple activities simultaneously to suit demand. I mentioned the events manager, who was also a photographer and a graphic designer.

Today career management is going to have an added nuance around targeting roles which don’t involve direct personal contact. Much of this will now depend on social distancing recommendations for our workplaces which have yet to be decided.

What we will need over the next years is fast and continuous learning skills, an ability to change direction more than once probably, open-mindedness and mental agility. It will also be helpful to anticipate future trends. If only…

Strategic diversification

For this type of career management to be effective and to identify career opportunities compatible with social distancing, we have to apply some key concepts.  In 2016 I asked two main questions: how will my basic knowledge add value – if at all? Then, will anyone want to pay for what I know or do?

Now we have to add an additional new and critical question: will I be allowed to do what I want to do? Followed by what do I need to adjust so that I can?

We don’t know how life will change over the next years, and for how long we will need to maintain reduced contact. Selecting career opportunities compatible with social distancing will become a vital component in our career planning. In my own case, face-to-face training sessions in large workshops will be a thing of the past. Break out sessions in small groups are for the history books. Throwing a ball to encourage engagement… nah.

Impacted sectors

This will impact us all in many ways, some of which we haven’t even thought of yet. It will hit  major industry sectors where people are close together. Will our workspaces become more spread out to respect the two metre rule? Will we have to wear masks in the office? Maybe more people will work from home – but what if you don’t have the right accommodation?

Career planning today

Previously we talked about pursuing a passion and finding the ideal career, as if it were one single objective. Now we are more likely going to pursue professional activities which we will be allowed to practise under new regulations. We will also need to factor in jobs that will have value in the COVID19 era (medical devices, e-commerce,  PPE manufacture, cleaning and hygiene products, food production, pharma, supply chain, mental health professions, care functions)  These activities may, or may not, involve any transferable skills we have. I talked to one contact who is feeling the impact on her photography business and is now learning to code.

That will make career planning today more challenging. Having an open mind and being a life-long learner will be critical. People are going to consider options that they rejected before and will now compete in a tight market. They might want to learn new skills for learnings sake or  simply to pay their bills. They may be forced into jobs they may not have chosen to put food on the table. This is going to make positioning and pitching even more important as candidates need to be convincing.

Recruitment changes

It will also mean we will need a new breed of recruiters and hiring managers, who should be trained to assess diverse skills, across multiple disciplines and respect different career choices. The days of penalizing people for “job-hopping,” periods of unemployment, taking sabbaticals and other career gaps, working part-time or on contract should be dead.

The need to be self-aware, self-advocating, self-reliant, self-sufficient, self- managing and self- promoting, maybe even self-taught and adaptable is going to increase.

The days when anyone but you took care of your career are over.

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Post Covid19 Workplaces – will we really learn?

It’s estimated that there are 3 billion people globally in some sort of lockdown or mandatory confinement. Some countries have imposed strict curfews and restrictions, but most have some sort of stay at home policy. HR leaders the world over are trying to handle the crisis. Overriding concerns are how to manage their organisations during the disruption, protect the longer term sustainability of their business in a period of zero revenue for most, as well as the health and wellbeing of their workforces.

As a number of countries feel that the curve is being flattened, plans are being drawn up for a planned exit strategy and putting forward plans for our post Covid19 workplaces, during what has been suggested will be the biggest recession in history. The IMF has projected that the global economy will shrink by at least 3%.

Key Questions

The forced remote working arrangement is raising some key questions which are going to have far-reaching and long-term consequences not just for business but our wider culture. These questions are typically centred around:

  1. Which roles are essential for the business and contribute to P & L. That also raises the question which roles are not doing this and makes them vulnerable in future organisation charts.
  2. What processes have been shown to be unnecessary and can be streamlined or dropped altogether?
  3. Can more people work from home? Organisations have seen how jobs they didn’t think could be carried out remotely successfully switched. This will help reduce overheads, but could cause other knock on effects on the business real estate sector and other enterprises that service them. What is people don’t want to work from home? Maybe they don’t have the space. Some will welcome this – but many won’t. Read my post: WFM Post Covid19 is about intention. Be careful what you wish for.  

Two Tier Employment Structure

Other questions will focus on how we change workforce structure and organisation. But despite all the lockdown navel gazing, I looked at this infographic from McKinsey included in their COVID19 Briefing  and wondered if anything will be truly any different in our post COVID19 workplaces? The focus as always seems to be on disposability, masquerading as agility. We have seen what has happened with the gig economy which went from being nice-to-have flexibility to outright exploitation for large numbers, with far-reaching impact for those trapped in it.

In two potential scenarios a two tier workplace will be embedded even further. The “ins” and “outs,” the “us” and “them.” Those with access to full-time permanent employment, with all the benefits that implies, and those who will be gig workers. It is almost dystopian.

Questions not asked  – leadership style

With the focus on “agility” and “lean,” plus command and control central leadership, there seems to be nothing in these projections around leadership style. One of the things that has emerged during this crisis is that balanced leadership styles are producing better results.

The number of women leaders cited as noteworthy is significant: Angela Merkel, Sophie Wilmès, Jacinda Ardern, Zuzana Čaputová, the President of Slovakia,Erna Solberg PM of Norway, Sanna Marin PM of Finland. Men such as Leo Varadkar in The Republic of Ireland and Girogi Gori, the Mayor of Bergamo, who are exhibiting these more collaborative characteristics are also emerging as strong balanced leaders.

So why don’t we see mention of this is our future workplace scenarios?  In a post from Rick Zedník “A shaken world demands balanced leadership” he identifies three leadership characteristics which we should be looking for in our post COVID19 workplace:

  • more collective than individual,
  • more collaborative than competitive
  • more coaching than commanding

We have to make sure that consultancies and think tanks, which are male dominated and male coded in culture, aren’t the only ones defining our post COVID19 workplaces.

Get in touch for your hiring needs.











WFH Post COVID19 is about intention. Be careful what you wish for

With large sections of the global population on lockdown or in different levels of confinement the idea of remote working and the impact on the future of work is preoccupying everyone. Although the circumstances around it are devastating, many people are high-fiving an unexpected upside. This opportunity provides the much-needed empirical ammunition to counter the resistance found in some organizations to introducing more flexible approaches to the way we work. You see they are saying … “ it CAN be done.” With my cautious hat on, WFH Post COVID19, I wonder if we should be careful what we wish for. It is all about intention.

Parallels with the gig economy

There are parallels with my longstanding and well publicized concerns around the gig economy, including discussions with sector gurus such as Rachel Botsman. There may be some upsides, but there is also a sub-text which people need to think about more carefully. Many predict these enforced changes will have benefits, but there is no doubt that there will also be casualties and downsides.

Businesses are trying to anticipate market changes caused by the global pandemic and project what their “new normal” will be. We will see significant disruption in the coming weeks and months, and people really need to read it correctly.


The demand for remote working pre-COVID19 was about supporting employees to meet life demands outside the workplace. It also helped those with long commutes who could spend up to 4 hours a day getting to and from a place of work. It was part of an inclusive policy around employee engagement, autonomy based on trust and understanding the needs of individual employees. Research shows that remote workers are more productive although further studies in the US between 2010-2015 also show highest levels of motivation when employees have a choice of where they want to work. Those who are least productive are the employees forced to work from home.

A report from Owl Labs indicates that more than half of full-time in-office employees want to work remotely. That also tells us that almost half of full-time employees don’t want to.

Presence based culture

The resistance to doing this has been from presence-based corporate cultures where accountability and efficiency are measured by what is physically visible. I have two big questions after discussions with network contacts:

  • Does this mean that a need for accountability and control  will shift in our brave new world? I am not so convinced.
  • Will that control just become digital in format? I think so!

We also be clear what people are looking for. It is more nuanced than selecting one location over another. It’s about flexibility.


What the global pandemic has revealed is that it is indeed possible for many jobs to be successfully distributed remotely. But for employees working remotely today, it is not business as usual. They are home schooling kids, working with their partners at the kitchen table (with the great new COVID19 term co-spacing which covers a multitude of sins)  and under stressful conditions.

There are widely reported issues include:

  • a lack of training of managers and supervisors
  • a need for established protocols
  • inconsistent tech and hardware
  • lack of social interaction
  • feelings of isolation
  • limited understanding of personal circumstances
  • reduced understanding of individual needs
  •  convergence of home and life

Intention is key

One of the main drivers for any organization post introducing WFM Post COVID19, will be their intention. Those with an inclusive culture which have successfully adapted during the lock- downs will surface in a stronger place. For businesses which struggled to cope, their progress will become a key differentiator in the post pandemic business world. The gap between successful adopters and the laggards will become even more exaggerated.

Cutting costs – looking at reduced office space

The opportunity to work from home may not be about inclusion and employee needs, but about cost saving. When governments lift restrictions, some businesses in all sectors will be in dire circumstances. Many will be forced to make economies and one way is to close offices. They now have a workforce which is used to working from home and in some cases clamouring for it.

A report from Gartner suggests “nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.”

I spoke to one leader who is already under pressure to cut budgets in Q3. With a workforce of 200 located in an office in a high rent area of Brussels, he has calculated by switching 50 employees to become home based, he can save significant sums per year on rent. This is regardless of whether the individuals want to work at home or not, or even have suitable accommodation for a home office. “We know now it can be done – even though today it’s less than ideal. But if we moved 25% of our company or an even a higher percentage to remote working, we can apply significant economies in terms of rent reductions. For 50 employees we could save around €2 million a year. We may have to make IT investments in the short-term, but over time that will be recouped. ”

Accountability and control

The other red flag came from a conversation with another leader who expressed concern about employee accountability and was looking at software to track employees’ activities and productivity. Tracking software can calculate:

  • The tasks a team is working on
  • The time they’re spending on each task.
  • Internet usage and the sites they are visiting
  • Times they log in and log out and therefore attendance
  • Times the device is “sleeping”
  • Task management – the result each employee produces and how efficient they are.
  • Billable hour if applicable.

Digital tracking softwares are not based on trust and result driven. It is presence-culture in a virtual form.  I have heard from one contact whose computer is being monitored  and IT note when it goes into sleep mode. She is actually taking care of her mother whose carer can’t have access during the COVID19 lockdown. This is a source of resentment for her.

Workplace agility

There is no doubt that for any organization to extend their work from home practices, they have to incorporate soft skill training for remote managers. If this way of working is imposed on employees, it produces different results to the employees who seek it voluntarily as a workplace benefit.

Those who embraced the gig economy found agile working to be the ideal opportunity to create a different type of work/life balance. For others it created significant problems around job and financial insecurity. This  has had an impact on their daily lives and well-being, which is plaguing them to this day. In extreme cases workplace agility has become workforce exploitation. Obliging employees to work from home will also impact the office real estate business and all the other enterprises that support large-scale business centres.

So for those who are saying that the global pandemic has boosted their chances of being able to work from home – be careful what you wish for. It’s not without its downsides. WFH post COVID19 is all about intention.

One solution will be to trial a meaningful split when creating an exit strategy for the confinement period. Most businesses may want to apply a staggered return to  work to maintain social distancing. Now would be a good time to see who wants to WFH and who prefers the physical workplace.

If you want to recruit top talent – get in touch.