skill sets

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Changing Skill Sets for Changing Times: 5 Focus Areas for 2021

What skill sets are employers looking for most in 2021? How can they partner with employees to develop these sought-after skills?

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic – alongside countless social justice movements – shaped the world in a new way. Now, employers must reevaluate their businesses and see what new skills match the world’s ever-changing landscape.

For employers in 2021, what follows are five of the most in-demand skill sets for our changing times. By enabling growth in these areas, employers across all industries will help their employees and prospective teammates thrive in our post-pandemic workplace.

Skill Set 1: Remote Teamwork

The most obvious change to come from the pandemic is the new work-from-home dynamic. According to Pew Research Center, 71% of employees were working remotely as of December 2020. Given this new landscape, employees need resources — primarily, they need technology to connect and work together.

Businesses should focus on hiring talented individuals who know remote working systems well. In addition, helping current employees further adapt by getting them the resources they need will instantly improve work efficiency. Critically, all workers must have communication channels available, like Slack or Google Meet.

A lack of teamwork causes a communication breakdown and disrupts the company’s goals. But the solution is to provide the right technology and assistance.

Skill Set 2: Time Management

With remote work, limited office capacities, and social distancing, many employers changed their schedules to accommodate health and safety concerns and physical space. Now, many in the workplace may start and end work at different times. These alterations force a focus on time management.

New and existing employees should demonstrate that they can independently manage their time, schedules, and projects. Employers and HR managers should emphasize helping talent learn to meet deadlines efficiently while assisting fellow employees stay on track, further developing time management across their teams.

Of course, employers should continue being flexible with remote work teams. Allowing employees to choose their own hours lets them build their work schedules around home commitments. They can then work when they’re at their most productive, distraction-free – which is the best possible form of time management.

Skill Set 3: Soft Skills

A people-first approach helps a company stand out in the crowd. So employers may not consider soft skills “soft” for much longer.

As social justice movements and awareness grow, soft skills add the human factor businesses need. These skills include adaptability, emotional intelligence, creativity, collaboration, active listening, and knowing how to help other employees thrive.

Soft skills also lead to solutions that put public safety first. For instance, curbside pickup and delivery have been a creative solution for shopping. Employers want workers who can come up with service and people-focused ideas like these.

Businesses also need to recognize and reward employees who can slip in and out of new roles depending on what the company needs. The pandemic has put pressure on companies of all sizes — and they all need employees trained to be adaptable to these changes.

Skill Set 4: Social Media Marketing

Social media has been around a long time; however, 2020 brought a new way to use these digital bullhorns. Specifically, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok help influence and reach the 3.6 billion people who used social media in 2020.

Instagram recently added a shopping tab, which companies of all kinds can use. Facebook Marketplace continues to have a significant impact on shopping habits. Combined with the growth of TikTok’s influence, employees will want to know how to curate a business page and list the company’s products or services in an engaging way. So smart employers are looking for new employees with these talents and will cross-train existing employees to further leverage e-commerce channels.

Moreover, social media is where social justice movements, new trends, and pop culture moments happen. If employees stay current, they can add meaningful or relatable approaches to the brand’s social media pages.

Skill Set 5: Cybersecurity

As the pandemic hit the United States, people wanted information about employment, finances, and staying safe. With countless people and businesses turning to the internet for resources, cybercrime shot up drastically. Still, as people try to get vaccines, phishing scams run rampant. The FBI reported between 3,000 to 4,000 cybersecurity complaints daily last summer.

If a business faces a breach, scam, hack, or malware attack, it could lose sensitive data, like employee or client Social Security numbers and bank accounts. To prevent this catastrophic loss of data and trust, businesses must focus on hiring cybersecurity professionals and upskilling entire IT teams. Simultaneously, managers are helping current employees learn the ins and outs of cybersecurity.

Still, the best employers know cybersecurity is an industry of its own, and specialization often requires years of training. Now more than ever, it’s in every company’s best interests to focus on retaining cybersecurity talent or securing reliable outside services.

Skill Sets 2021: A New Employee Landscape

The unemployment rate is still coming down from April 2020’s record high. On the positive side, there’s plenty of new, eager talent looking to make a difference. And existing employees are showing genuine interest in providing the reskilling and upskilling to update in-demand skill sets. By focusing on these five areas of skills development, your company can revolutionize your workforce and create lasting talent pipelines – even in changing times.