The pandemic has triggered a shift in priorities. From individuals holding off on that discretionary purchase to corporations slashing travel budgets, our thinking universally shifted towards the short-term over the past year.

Hiring decisions certainly followed this trend – whether that meant hiring freezes in hard-hit industries or increasing recruitment to deal with new demand in industries like health care, retail, delivery and shipping. Either way, our research revealed that 68% of companies are only planning for short-term hiring, looking six months out at most.

This response was appropriate while the pandemic fires burned at their most fierce in the early days. But now that businesses are settling into a new operating rhythm, attention needs to again turn to the long term.

The trouble is, many organisations don’t have a clear picture of their businesses post pandemic. And as a result, they don’t feel ready to plan for the future.

Many organisations don’t have a clear picture of their businesses post pandemic. And as a result, they don’t feel ready to plan for the future. Click To Tweet

To begin mapping your organisation’s path to pandemic recovery, you need to be aware of the trends impacting businesses and workforces. Here we discuss five pressure points that will shape the talent acquisition landscape in 2021 and beyond and the key questions to ask yourself to identify your organisation’s future readiness.

1. Integration of the gig economy into the organisation’s strategy

We’ve been talking about the gig economy for years now, but contingent workforces continue to exist on the fringes of organisations with no coherent strategy behind their placement or tasks.

Organisations must start capitalising on the unique opportunities that contingent workers offer to create headcount flexibility, leverage on-demand skills and manage costs.

Ask yourself: Do we have roles identified that will benefit from gig workers?

2. Career mobility within organisations

Internal career mobility is a hot topic but many organisations struggle to make it work. Siloes, inconsistent career paths and jobs, and a lack of employee channels can all be hurdles.

Organisations need to think about creating the fundamental conditions for career mobility, taking an organisation-wide view, rather than an individual or department-based view. This means leaders need to be willing to let go of their best people within the organisation and value the ability to leverage employees across the business.

Ask yourself: As organisations become leaner, do your leaders and people managers have the mindset to encourage career mobility?

3. Demographic change in the workforce

The world’s population is ageing. And while this has been interpreted as a major challenge for organisations expecting a mass exodus of older works, the opposite is happening in a lot of cases with boomers working longer.

Workforce participation by over 65s is up in Australia (13% in 2018 versus 6% in 2006) while in Singapore the retirement age is being lifted to 65 by 2030 and age inclusive work practices are being encouraged.

Organisations need to learn from such enhancements in work practices and consider how their talent policies can be more inclusive, including how succession programs need to be adapted and development programs can ensure continuity and change readiness.

Ask yourself: Have you identified how you can benefit from experienced workers to drive knowledge transfer or development of employees?

Have you identified how you can benefit from experienced workers to drive knowledge transfer or development of employees? Click To Tweet

4. Remote work

Perhaps COVID’s most obvious impact on the workplace is the rapid shift to remote work. Our research found that 75% of organisations1 expect to operate more virtually after the pandemic than before.

The shift now needs to be formalised, through defining remote working and the expected outputs. This is no small task, it means redefining the nature of work.

Ask yourself: Have you measured the readiness of leaders to encourage and HR to drive remote working?

5. Work-life integration

The COVID period has forced a strange kind of work-life integration – and there have been both positives and negatives.

The role of employee experience is critical as we help employees navigate through this largely unknown territory. It’s an opportunity for leaders to evolve from ‘leading a company’ to ‘leading a community’ and the organisation needs to have in place the programs and policies to support this shift.

Ask yourself: How are you adapting your culture to give your employees the flexibility to manage their commitments at work and home?

For more trends, challenges and opportunities in the future of work, read: Choose your own future.


1. Korn Ferry pulse surveys of more than 4000 organisations and Organisation Scan analysis of more than 650 organisations.

Speak to our experts

About the contributor

Prashant has extensive multi industry experience in managing large scale HR / Business advisory projects; and complex national and regional people linked business transformation initiatives.

Related Articles