Skills employers are looking for in 2021
One of the most popular words of 2020 was pivot. Usually associated with some fancy footwork on the basketball court, pivot became a popular buzz word during the pandemic, often used to describe what all of us needed to do – right now – if we were going to survive something none of us had ever experienced before.
Restaurant owners had to pivot to stay open when COVID-19 restrictions prohibited indoor dining. Office workers had to pivot to get their work done sitting at their kitchen tables instead of at their office desktops. And retailers had to pivot to get their products into the virtual hands of online customers instead of real live shoppers.
Bad news if “pivot” is one of those words that’s starting to make your neck hair stand up (like “cohort” of the phrase “we’re all in this together”) – “pivot” is holding strong in 2021. In fact, it’s the underlying theme to the skills employees will need in this post-pandemic world (or almost, fingers crossed).
What are some of those post-(almost)-pandemic skills many employers will be looking for?
Providing good customer service goes beyond helping clients acquire the goods or services they’re looking for. Today’s service providers need hard skills, like understanding new digital tools and the software required for what has largely become an online experience. They also need soft skills, like the patience to help people navigate a world where many of the rules changed overnight. More than ever, good customer service means finding solutions for more complex problems and being sensitive to confused and often frustrated clients.
Scheduling is now akin to solving a Rubik’s Cube. Forget about 9 to 5 – workplace and retail hours are constantly changing to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions, tight budgets, remote workers and staggering work hours to keep staff healthy. Staying on top of public health rules while meeting the needs of the company and considering the well-being of staff – who may or may not be physically at the workplace – requires employees who can juggle competing priorities and have a real knack for (yes) pivoting.
Communications management :
Good communications skills have always been in high demand, but now employers are looking for staff who’ve bumped it up a few notches. Videoconferencing often replaces in-person meetings, and that means learning how to use new digital platforms. Zoom calls and the like have introduced new challenges (“you’re on mute”!). Meetings are often briefer, people have less time to get their points across and, with typically less informal chatter, it can be more difficult to gain insight into how employees are feeling or what they’re really thinking. Which brings us to…
Over the last year, life brought many changes – big and small – for everyone. Customers, clients, employees and business owners have had to deal with a wide spectrum of challenges, from learning to work remotely to homeschooling their kids to losing jobs and losing loved ones. In any work situation that requires human contact – virtual or otherwise – empathy should be at the forefront. An angry customer demanding a refund may have just had their benefits run out. That employee who’s always late for the Zoom call may be busy tending to a sick or vulnerable parent. If anything positive has come out of the pandemic, it’s the reminder that, no matter what, we are all people.
And we are all in this together.