The COVID-19 pandemic has spread at an alarming pace, infecting millions of people and bringing economic activities closer as countries have imposed tougher restrictions on the movement to stop the spread of the virus. Long-term horizons, deep investment arising out of the pandemic, low investment, permanent capital erosion, lost work and, schooling and fragmentation of global trade and supply relations are expected to lead to the erosion of human capital.
Talking about the economics of India, COVID-19 has been a very disruptive factor. Since the announcement of the economic package in mid-May, India’s GDP estimates had settled further in a negative frame, indicating a deep recession for the nation. It is also said that this may be India’s worst recession period since its independence in the year 1947. Between March and April, unemployment in the country rose from 6.7% to 26%, nearly four times the pre-epidemic number. An estimated 140 million citizens have lost their employment during the lockdown in India.
Before this pandemic, people used to work from their office but now the case is different. Due to this crisis, people started working from their home online with the help of technology and it is working incredibly these days and these will create various disruptions such as:
- The physical disconnect of businesses and their stakeholders will require the adoption of new technologies in order to maintain continuity and better future experiences for all.
- The change management process of “going remote” may look simple, but if it is not managed properly then can be a concern. On the other side, the ripple effect of going back to the office may be worse, as remote work policy withdrawal proves to negatively affect workforce retention and productivity.
- Earlier, for example, organizations may have generated ideas by calling a meeting, brainstorming on a physical or digital whiteboard, and appointing someone to refine the resulting ideas. But now, a new process may involve a period of asynchronous brainstorming on a digital channel and ideas across the organization, followed by a multiple periods of debate and refinement over an open videoconference.
- Now all organizations need to rethink and reconstruct new ideas and planning to meet the future needs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge disruption in the global supply chain. With distant and quarantine orders, some factories have closed completely. Due to the demand for food and personal protective equipment, some countries have implemented different levels of export restrictions on those goods, unlike these, there are various disruptions:
- The heavy reliance on paper-based records, lack of visibility on data, and lack of diversity and flexibility have made existing supply chain systems vulnerable to any situation.
- Distribution of products is going through some unique challenges such as staffing warehouses, the need for direct distribution and more intelligent and responsive allocation across channels.
- Retail sales have also been affected in a strange way. Lockdown and curfew scenarios around the world have created a unique situation where demand as far as the need arises, demand reduction in some niche areas, and the luxury items segment poses major challenges, and we find many retailers are likely to see their shutters down while many others will be severely challenged on operating margins and models.
- It is not enough for retailers to enable customers to shop online, retailers must be able to source locally and outside of their territories if applicable, and products must be delivered as promised. This means developing a solid supply chain, the right type and the number of delivery methods, and delivering people through updated strategies.
- Consumers, for the most part, are impatient, and when their deliveries do not arrive on time it does not take long for them to become dissatisfied. Retailers will need to develop and communicate realistic delivery strategies and practices and set customer expectations with respect to new changes.
Consumer-centric applications for artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are helping to seal the public perception that these technologies will only benefit businesses and negatively impact jobs and work. The conversation from human substitution to human efficiency has become more mainstream as we look at AI applications in healthcare, social media, mass transportation, financial industries and many more. The ways through which AI got affected are mentioned below:
- While many jobs will be created by artificial intelligence and many predict a net increase in jobs or at least the same amount will be predicted to replace those lost to AI technology, there are jobs today but maybe the machines would take over that place in the future. This will require changes in training and education programs to prepare their future employees, as well as help current workers move into new positions that will utilize their unique human abilities.
- The speed of artificial intelligence increases which can be met and in many cases, it exceeds our ability as well as humans to follow. With automation, nefarious actions, virus delivery to software, and AI systems taking advantage of the way they see it can be difficult for humans unless there is a real swamp to deal with.
- As AI algorithms are built by humans, they may have inherent biases by those who either knowingly or unknowingly introduce them into the algorithm. If the AI algorithm is built with a bias or the data in the training set is given to them to learn when they are biased, they will produce results that are biased.
Companies considering advanced technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation must weigh the benefits of innovation with profitable benefits for the business rather than simply adopting trending technology. The point which indicates the disruption in IT are:
- IT needs to adopt new technology, trends, and approaches to grow at the expected pace. It is difficult to stay on time and on budget. CIOs are required to manage all IT projects that minimize risk.
- Cloud-first strategies that lack vision can lead to problems that cause organizations to pull back.
- Digital transformation requires an ongoing commitment that develops over time and changes in mindset rather than mere reliance on technology.
- As a result of the disruption, traditional universities face increasing competition from new, digitally-driven education providers to enter the market.
- The concept of digital disruption provides education leaders the opportunity to re-evaluate their strategy and evaluate the type of student experience they provide. The continuous search for innovation is slowly but surely affecting the traditional teaching of classrooms, lectures, and textbooks, etc. with new technology and new teaching methods and platforms, in technical contrast.
Embracing futuristic HR strategies:
A sudden change in work culture took a toll on the overall employee work environment and wellbeing. The transition to remote work culture is not as consistent as it seems. There is various disruption in its way, they are listed below:
- Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, only a few companies had a remote work program. Now almost all of them are running away to form a remote action strategy. This has led to many unseen problems.
- Along with this, keeping employees engaged becomes challenging when they are working remotely and even internal communication is compromised, and it becomes difficult to keep everyone on the same page. HR managers are trying to create seamless routes and strategies to overcome the challenges that it brings.
- Many HR teams are not designed for agility. And this affects HR professionals big time. In this crisis, it is important to react quickly and move quickly. This slows down the data-gathering process and takes immediate measures that call for a crisis. The need of the hour is now to bring more agility to their vision and to re-prioritize company goals and to have the right communication and alignment between middle management and executives.
Digitalization in Sales
COVID-19 has destroyed lives and livelihoods and in many communities around the world. Although the full effects of the crises are far from few, it is already clear that its economic consequences are serious. Changes in customer behavior are an acceleration of digital trends that were in motion before the pandemic. At the moment, this change may seem small, but in the upcoming time, we will see it as a major pivot point. And this change is the move from one to one sales to online sales. We think that we are at a digital inflection point, where B2B sales operations are moving ahead that will be fundamentally different from before the pandemic.
- While companies are generally reducing expenses, a large number of companies are increasing or maintaining it, depending on the size of the company, the region, and the rates higher than any other factor in the world.
- The uplift in e-commerce may well be permanent if people stick to mingling in real life, and increase shop visits through online shopping.
- Looking ahead, B2B companies see their customers as two to three times more important digital interactions than traditional sales interactions.
- Nearly 90 percent of sales have moved to a videoconferencing (VC) / phone/web sales model, and although some skepticism remains, more than half believe it is similar or more effective than the sales model used before COVID-19.
Skill Imbalance due to Covid-19
Learning and Development
This emergency did not come out of anywhere. Obstacles in the nature of work have increased due to technology innovation, increasing demand for new competencies, changing employee expectations, labor demographics and inclusion/diversity plans, new manpower models, and the evolving business environment with all its regulatory changes. And the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which is forcing organizations to rethink the role of learning and development (L&D) in how learning can be delivered over a more immediate period. Many Chief Learning Officers and L&D teams have already realized that reskilling, upskilling, and out skilling offer answers to these problems, but as we know this learning will not be enough. There are two sides to the same coin. The challenge for L&D teams is to prepare for a brilliant future-focused on skills and abilities at the individual, team, and organization levels; Powered by data, and integrating learning into the flow of work across tasks and occupations. It is to begin the journey with many well-calculated steps to make the change and the only place to start.
Reskilling addresses skill gaps
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many leadership positions struggled to address skills gaps, as their modernization efforts created new roles and replaced old ones. After the crises, we hope to see these modernization initiatives as a priority. This, in turn, will lead to greater skill gaps, which, given the high demand and small pool of potential applicants, cannot be easily filled by outside hires. To address these skill gaps, organizations can save existing employees and move them to new roles. This saves the organization time and money that will take a new employee to the source while allowing it to retain high-performing talent whose core role will be reduced or eliminated as part of the organization’s change initiative.
Remote work was gaining currency before the crises, but the pandemic showed that telecommunications are here to stay. Although many employees received “learned by doing” or “quick and dirty” training during the first phase of the crisis, continued remote work would probably present an upskilling challenge. For example, sales forces will have to withdraw from setting up video meetings to manage customer relationships effectively in remote settings. Companies also face a learning curve as managers learn how to lead their teams as they build social capital and benefit from informal coffee, lunch, or corridor chat. How do we maintain harmony? As companies consider returning to the workplace, a new set of skills for transition is also likely to emerge. The learning landscape has changed in ways that will promote teaching new skills to employees, wherever they may be. COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of a fully digital approach to recreating the best in-person learning through live video and social sharing. This change makes it possible to scale learning efforts in a more cost-effective way and allows for more personalization for learners and in turn more effective.
New skills for ‘remote economy’
The crisis has accelerated digitization levels to help reduce avoidable physical contact. This means a rejection of work and, in some cases, partial disruption of work and changes in workers’ performance. Different sectors had to train the workforce in new skills as they remade their tasks to fight the epidemic. For example, consumer banks need to increase employee cross-training in specific services according to the demand for mortgage-refinancing applications. Banks had to train employees in empathy as they helped distressed customers use digital tools and new products and services.
Imbalance in talent supply and demand
COVID-19 has not only changed the way people work but also how they shop and eat, as well as basic patterns of movement and travel. In this way, crises are being established that could be permanent employment-landscape shifts, which may require a large-scale resurgence of new workers. For example, the pandemic has intensified the trend towards e-commerce rather than brick-and-mortar sales. Early signs in China suggest that new customers, in particular, people as young as 36 years old and residents of smaller, less affluent cities have begun to shop in greater numbers online through the crisis. In a virtual roundtable held in March, several China-based executives shared their expectation that consumers will now move to e-commerce even faster. Digital talent-marketplace platforms are allowing companies to bridge the supply-demand mismatch, requiring connections between hiring companies and workers who will need some degree of reskilling.
Changes in supply chain
With sourcing and production moving closer to end-users, the crisis could trigger a restructuring of supply chains. As companies localize or regionalize them, there will be a shift in what skills are needed and where. Global companies can move production closer to the point of sale. In some cases, these changes may require activities transferring to other countries. Companies can pick up talent locally (for example, through talent exchanges), but then they must acquire new employees to accelerate to their new roles. This is a daunting challenge – but not inside the walls of a company.
Rapidly identify skills that depend on your recovery business model
As companies decide on strategies that will create the future of the business, they need to figure out which skill pools will disproportionately affect it and drive it forward. To do this, they must quickly identify key value drivers and employee groups.
Specify the precise contribution of these roles to value creation and redefine how their day-to-day work will change as a result of price changes. Identify what changes are needed in activities, behavior, and skills. Specify the quantity and type of people you need. For example, if you are moving from in-store sales primarily to home delivery, your technology team and logistics coordinator will have a greater impact on the new strategy, as they did on the old. They may also require a different skillset to facilitate growth in demand and customer expectations.
Build key employee skills for your new business model
Start creating critical workforce pools that will drive a disproportionate amount of value in your adjusted business model. The first step is to build a remorseful skill set – a tool kit that will not be useful to develop for any employee’s specific role. Focus your investment on four types of skills: digital, high cognitive, social and emotional, and adaptability and flexibility. Skill-building in these four areas should be primarily digital and self-paced, but in most cases not tailored to the individual.
Start a systematic learning journey to close the critical skill gap
As companies prepare to rethink and ramp up their business models, it is important to go deeper into strategic workforce planning. Leaders not only need a detailed view of the major activities that will start a critical group in the next 12 to 18 months, but each of these groups will also require skills. For example, a Chinese group changed the strategic plan after managing the immediate effects of the epidemic. It looked to order remotely for the next season, began working on revised three-year plans, including significantly more aggressive omnichannel targets, and expanded its supply chain, among other moves to expand the business Changed to make it more agile. Keeping these initiatives in mind, these groups have designed their racking trip and delivery plans to help employees play a key role in building the skills needed to meet their specific objectives. Customized. And when an international bank realized that its regular face-to-face sales model faced disruption, it concluded that virtual sales could become a competitive advantage if done well. The bank then embarked on a continuous upskilling journey for its sales representative, improving their virtual ways of working.
As the operating model evolves quickly to accommodate a rapidly changing environment, the key is to iterate the strategic workforce to determine the right skills to develop in an “in time” manner. These learning journeys correspond to each specific role, but companies can increase their scale and cost-effectiveness by digitally delivering most of their training. Such a journey can be complemented by digital tools that, for example, best recreate in-person-social-sharing tools and live video sessions, creating a deeper sense of cohesion among colleagues And help build skills such as empathy, usually relying on person-based learning.
Behave like a small company to have a big influence
Global surveys have shown that recycling programs of small organizations are often more successful than larger ones. This may surprise some people, as larger companies generally have access to more resources. But smaller companies are often more successful in following agile principles – they take bold steps more quickly because they don’t have to shift around large groups of people to try something new. They may be more inclined to fail, as they have fewer layers of approval to pass through. At the same time, smaller companies have a more clear view of their skills shortcomings, so they are better able to prioritize gaps and need to select the right candidates to address them. This is not to say that large organizations can be agile when it comes to remodeling, just that it can be difficult for them.
Protect the learning budget
Companies should not cut their employee-training budget. Use your training budget to make skill-building important to the next general. Do not waste two to three years and the efficiency and flexibility you can develop now. What you can and should do is focused on the flexibility of your learning ecosystem: make it more digital (including in-sync digital components-to replace in-person) and more accessible to your employees. Finally, take advantage of external partners’ ready learning journeys and items.
Jeel Jain, is a B.Com. graduate currently pursing PGDM degree from Som-Lalit Institute of Management Studies. She is a quick learner along with the passion of evolving new things. As an intern at Jagdish Hirani & Associates her contribution in the field of research has helped her in exploring different fields and enhancing her knowledge.
Shubham Mahla: A B.Tech graduate who is currently pursuing his MBA from Institute of Management, Nirma University is associated with J.Hirani as an intern. His keen inclination towards Finance and passion for learning has persuaded him to explore the field with excellent work in research and application tools. His contribution in this article has helped him to develop holistic deep insights.
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