2021 was another period of upheaval and adaptation in the business world.
Whilst navigating unchartered territory with regards to COVID-19 seems to continue, there is renewed focus on adaptation, resilience and finding more sustainable ways of living and working.
Last year, the Great Resignation has sparked a talent crisis which is set to change recruitment practices. Remote and hybrid working, somewhat disordered in the early days of the pandemic, are finding a more permanent place in company cultures and policies.
This transition, in turn, has highlighted issues surrounding mental health at work, many of which pre-dated the pandemic, but have been exacerbated by its effects.
As pandemic becomes endemic, we outline a few interesting trends for 2022 and why we at Belbin believe there are plenty of reasons for optimism for the year ahead.
Remote and hybrid working
With many taking the opportunity to change job or career path, the competition for talent is fiercer than ever before.
Progressive organisations that support flexible working practices are likely to have the upper hand when it comes to attracting and retaining that talent.
The difficulty for businesses is how to embrace the benefits of remote working whilst ensuring that collaboration isn’t compromised, and that employees don’t feel isolated or adrift. You might be interested to read our guide to managing different Team Role behaviours remotely, or for a more in-depth look, why not download our Virtual Working survey analysis?
A new lens on recruitment
Following the Great Resignation, companies will be forced to move away from traditional – and outmoded – recruitment strategies and find new ways to define and discover the talent they want.
High on the agenda is the need to personalise outreach strategies, so that potential applicants can understand how a role aligns with them, as well as the other way around.
We’re proud to say that the Belbin Job Reports have always taken this two-way approach, advising candidates on what to expect from a position in Team Role terms, and how their own behavioural strengths might fit with what is required.
Focus on skills, not roles
According to Forbes, forward-thinking organisations will also focus on loosening restrictions on academic requirements (such as degrees) and placing more emphasis on transferable skills. This will enable them to attract new talent and to identify non-traditional talent internally.
Gartner reports: “To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles – which group unrelated skills – than on the skills needed to drive the organization’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel this advantage.”
Dr Belbin makes the distinction between ‘eligibility’ (formal qualifications and training) and ‘suitability’ (our behavioural tendencies). In his experience, matching people with jobs according to suitability improves engagement and reduces turnover, since people possess the fundamental aptitude for their role, and are engaged with the challenge of learning those aspects which can more readily be taught.
Last year brought us this lightbulb moment from Campbell Urquhart (Belbin Scotland) in the Belbin webinar, ‘New Year. New Job. New You?’. Campbell explained why we should ‘hire for behaviour and train for knowledge’. Instead, many companies fall into the trap of advertising, screening, reviewing CVs and interviewing based on technical skills, and entirely neglecting the behavioural traits they really seek amongst applicants.
Reliance on contractors and other contingent workers
For many organisations, the search for talent (combined with economic uncertainty) has made the prospect of hiring contractors and contingent workers more attractive than that of increasing overheads by recruiting ever more full-time staff.
But, as our Top Team Myths article explains, longstanding teams generally tend to perform better. So, if teams are changing with each contract, how do we ensure performance doesn’t suffer? Check out this article on how Belbin helps the gig economy, by enabling contractors to hit the ground running and letting the rest of the team know what to expect.
Mental health and wellbeing
During the course of the pandemic, mental health and wellbeing have become more pressing issues. Along with relatively new phenomena, such as COVID-19 fatigue and difficulties arising from increased remote working, this era has also uncovered underlying systemic shortcomings in the way organisations handle employee mental health.
However, whilst 87% of employees surveyed for the Future of the Industry Report 2021 stated that they wanted their employer to care about their mental health, almost half of respondents indicated that mental health benefits were introduced in order to tick a box, rather than to instigate real cultural change.
Whilst Belbin is neither a panacea nor a mental health tool per se, it is a useful language in which to open up discussions around workplace stress, anxiety and conflict. It can enable team leaders to ask the right questions and take the first step towards building strong relationships with those they manage and addressing problems as they arise.
Resilience is the new efficiency
Along with individual wellbeing, we’re also seeing a shift in focus from efficiency to organisational resilience in the face of uncertainty.
In order to survive and thrive, organisations are thinking not about streamlining and productivity, but about building strong ecosystems that promote agility and are therefore more readily able to withstand uncertainty and change.
Gartner suggests that we “provide employees with varied, adaptive and flexible roles so they acquire cross-functional knowledge and training”. At Belbin, we’re firm believers in making teams flexible enough to fulfil their purpose, even as that purpose evolves.
Download our guide to organisational resilience with Belbin to discover how strengths-based working can equip teams and organisations to adapt effectively in changing circumstances. Or find out how Belbin works alongside Agile to empower cross-functional teams.
According to our research, teams working remotely report higher levels of productivity, but lower levels of engagement.
Whilst some have embraced remote working, others struggle with isolated working and the loss of opportunities for informal discussion and collaboration. As organisations have grappled with losing sight of how and when people are working, trust (and therefore engagement) are frequent casualties. In response, many workers are burning out from remote presenteeism and the blurring of boundaries between work and home.
Since remote and hybrid working look set to outlast the pandemic, building a culture upon mutual trust and strong communication is key to leading an engaged workforce.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Across many sectors, the adoption of artificial intelligence promises to improve efficiency, security and effectiveness.
In HR, AI has the potential to take care of administrative tasks so that HR professionals can focus on strategic initiatives that require human input.
But as with any new territories, the boundaries are yet to be clearly defined. Automated decision-making has the potential to clash with data protection rights and to replicate human biases, in spite of our best intentions. And if CVs can be screened by a computer looking for certain skills, how do we find hidden talent or strengths that just require a little development?
As ever, we need technology and people to work hand in hand. At Belbin, we use item analysis, norms and algorithms to ensure the accuracy of our Reports, but the findings are always read, interpreted and acted upon by people. We offer advice and ask questions, but the crucial decisions will always require a human touch. And when it comes to diversity, we don’t just celebrate it, we help people to build teams and organisations upon it.
Whilst 2022 will certainly have a number of challenges in store, we’re excited about the potential opportunities for growth and change, and the part Belbin can play.
If you want to find out more about what Belbin can do for you, your team or your organisation, please get in touch and one of our friendly team will be happy to help.
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