4 ways to make talent management work in a virtual world


Virtual work is here to stay. Estimates say over 91 percent of businesses have put in place work-at-home arrangements since the start of the pandemic. Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Capital One, Amazon, and Microsoft have already announced plans to expand their work-from-home programs. Others envision some sort of resumption of office life by 2021, but a recent Gartner analysis shows that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic.

While there are many logistics, leadership, and policy issues to consider when migrating your business to effective remote work, there are important talent implications as well. Here are four ways your organization can win the war for talent in the larger virtual world of work.

Hire from the larger talent pool

Remove geographic constraints. This opens up a new talent pool for your talent acquisition team. You can recruit that rock star leader in another city who is not ready to uproot his life but would be delighted with an opportunity with your business. Or strategically redistribute your call center employees so that service delivery can, to coax a tech term, “follow the sun” or span multiple time zones. In addition to the wider geographic reach, people who need flexibility are now part of the talent pool. In my former roles as HR manager, my team regularly met candidates who refused offers for lack of flexibility. A study has shown that, among young workers,
68% said they weigh heavily on remote options to determine whether to work for a particular company. Changing policies are changing the hiring landscape and opening doors for applicants that may have been closed before.

Create a “skills economy”

Leverage skills across borders. With remote work comes new ways of using skills across the organization. This can create more porous teams, departments and functions. By having a more fungible network of skills, companies can better manage the available resources. A small group of companies have started to make progress in this direction by documenting the skills and subject matter expertise of each employee (e.g. professional services, where staff are assigned to expertise-based projects) , but few have really created an effective system of supply and demand for skills.

Drive results-based performance management

Teach leaders how to manage results. HR managers have been emphasizing this point for some time, but it is easy for managers to get involved in the process and look at things that are less relevant (and sometimes discriminatory against those who have patient care. children, the elderly or other personal responsibilities) such as time spent in front of the house, hours worked and relationships when in the office with their teams. While
HR managers report the most common complaint during the coronavirus epidemic was made by managers concerned about the commitment and productivity of their teams, according to some studies
significant increases in productivity when work becomes virtual. Talent leaders can play a proactive role in educating managers about the potential for bias in favor of on-site workers versus remote workers and shifting from a focus on how people to managing for results, such as project completion, customer success metrics, revenue targets, etc.

Rethinking the career path

Promote without borders. Removing relocation requirements gives these candidates a reluctance to move upwards and the company gets a broader base for promotions and succession planning. When I worked with a large retailer, geography constantly challenged us. We had strong talent in the field and opportunities at head office, and we knew that moving people between headquarters and the field made for a more seamless connection between the two. But since company staff had to work at headquarters, we were unable to fill positions with some of the top candidates. Remove that barrier and you dramatically increase the internal talent pipeline flow.

As companies adapt their strategies and workforce to changing needs, leaders must adapt their talent management practices to maximize the opportunities presented by the new virtual landscape. Those who can quickly identify the needs and opportunities created by virtual work and strategically tailor their approach to talent will help improve business value and position their organizations to achieve their goals.


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