Working Transitions

Post-Covid Career Planning

Whatever you have been doing at work over the last six months, chances are that it probably wasn’t quite what you expected! Deadlines and projects have been thrown up in the air, working with colleagues has - in the main – been done via Zoom, interviews and selection processes have been rapidly re-designed. In many cases training programmes have been adapted, or in some cases postponed and many organisations have started to radically re-think their structures and the types of roles and skills they need for the future.

What does this mean for the career plans of your teams? In a world of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever before to keep people engaged and committed to building their career with you.

Very few of us really plan our careers but most of us do have a vague idea of the direction we would like to go in – whether that’s working to achieve milestones, to gain a promotion, or to climb a defined organisational career ladder. As an organisation, you may have developed an effective solution to help your teams achieve this - whether that was a structured learning and development programme, the opportunity to gain qualification or a great mentoring programme - there’s a very good chance that, however well this worked for you before, the challenges and restrictions of Covid-19 mean that it’s time for a radical rethink. With few industries and sectors unscatched by the pandemic and almost 750,000 jobs lost in the UK alone (source: Financial Times) things look markedly different today compared to the beginning of the year.

As we all start to adjust and do our best to move forward, the workplace is being redefined in immeasurable ways - this will have a big impact on how people plan and develop their careers and how employers ensure appropriate talent pipelining, engagement and productivity.

So what practical steps can you take to make sure that you are helping your teams to get their careers back on track? There are some key areas that are worth taking a closer look at:

Informal learning process

With the recent rise of remote working expected to become the ‘norm’, all of those small opportunities to learn from others, that happen almost unnoticed in the average working day, may be lost to many people. Often we are unaware of just how much of our knowledge and experience has been gained by working alongside or observing a competent colleague.

 Employers will need to think about how they replicate this informal mentoring and learning process in a virtual way. Otherwise it may become more challenging, or take longer to develop the key skills and knowledge that enable people to progress at work, with the resultant potential impact on productivity and performance.  Assigning a mentor or providing a coach for regular interactions can help to plug this important gap.

Performance impact of changed working practices

In addition, there may be some people who perform their job brilliantly when they are in the office surrounded by colleagues and perhaps resources or tools, but struggle to replicate this when working remotely. This can make their performance look poor and of course that has an impact on their opportunities to develop their career.

Supporting Managers to help them develop the skills to manage performance in a range of work environment scenarios will also be important. Even the best managers will find it challenging at times to assess performance objectively when they have limited office based contact with their team members.

Identifying Skills Gaps

Even before the impact of Covid, automation of many tasks and activities was prevalent across the workplace. With digitalisation anticipated to accelerate in the post Covid era, roles requiring a ‘human touch’ may require a different skill set or higher standard of work. This will expose skills gaps and stretch some people. Others will be less motivated by the changed focus of the role. Employers will need to think carefully about how they can facilitate someone to perform at their best when they are required to work differently.

Career Re- Boot

Lastly, everyone has been impacted in some way by the events of the last few months and for many people it’s been a time of personal reflection about life and work. As people start to search for answers to the questions they’ve been asking themselves and begin to engage with a workplace context that may also be still evolving, you might want to think about how you can support people with a ‘Career Re-Boot’.

This might mean taking a closer look at what new skills will be required and helping people to develop the skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing them just for a specific next role.

You might have employees in valuable roles which are now changing and who lack the key skills that might be needed to perform this role effectively in future. If they are not clear about how they need to adapt to continue in the role, they may start to lose confidence and motivation as they underperform. It may also be true that certain roles will become less attractive to people as roles evolve. A good career conversation helps you to establish this early and creates the opportunity to explore alternative career options, before you invest time, effort and costs in trying to equip people with skills for a role they may no longer want.

Consider a confidential and discreet career conversation as a starter – enabling people to talk through fears, concerns, hopes, plans and challenges in a ‘safe’ environment can alleviate anxiety about the future and provide clarity and optimism.are a cost-effective and powerful option.

Make sure that managers are supported to develop the skills to have effective career development conversations too. Not all of these conversations will be easy – developing the skills required to have challenging and sensitive conversations will prove hugely beneficial.

At Working Transitions we are seeing high demand for our career management and decision support services. Clients report that offering a ‘Career Re-Boot’ with a combination of competent line manager coaching, supported by confidential expert career coaching, significantly increases engagement and motivation, whilst helping people come to terms with workplace change and start planning their future career with confidence.

Get in touch to find out how Working Transitions can support your organisation to survive and thrive.


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Working Transitions
14 September 2020
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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