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Have Employees’ Skills Gone Rusty During the Pandemic?

employee skills during covid-19

The covid-19 pandemic forced companies to drastically change their work practices. Practically overnight CEOs, business owners, and management teams had to redesign their business practices and procedures to allow employees to work from home (WFH). The transition was challenging. Decisions had to be made about which technologies would be adopted to maintain work standards, productivity, effective communication, employee engagement, and data security in cyberspace. Employees were challenged with learning new skills and technologies to work effectively from home. Workers with children had to do that while managing homeschooling their children. The transition was hard, but thankfully, many businesses were able to successfully adapt.

Post-Pandemic Return to the Workplace

As more people get vaccinated and restrictions begin to lift, CEOs and business owners face another challenge: transitioning their employees back into the workplace. That may appear simple at first, but CEOs and business owners need to take a close look at the on-site skills of key positions that may have gone rusty during the pandemic. Baron Christopher Hanson, principal and lead counselor at RedBaron Consulting, calls this the “pandemic sabbatical effect.”

Employees who travelled often prior to the pandemic have been home for a year or more. Restaurant kitchen and front-of-house employees may not have been able to run a restaurant at full capacity since prior to the pandemic. Professional lighting and stage technicians that set up concert venues, large events, or theatrical productions have likely not done so in over a year. Recently there has been an increase in commercial pilot in-flight mistakes and pilots blame the downtime due to the pandemic for being rusty. Cruise ship operators, staff, and crew may face similar challenges as the cruise ship industry returns to pre-pandemic operations.

Employer Duties and Employee Buy-In

It is up to the C-suite and upper management to determine the on-site core skills that may have gone rusty during the pandemic downtime and to develop plans for retraining and upskilling employees. It will be equally important to gain employee buy-in and cooperation. Just as it took careful planning and time to transition employees and managers to remote work, it requires the same careful planning and time to return workers to the workplace post-pandemic. It may be time to rethink your company’s training budget. Have your HR department determine which skills for key positions need retraining and then invest in retraining programs to support the transition back into the workplace. It will be money well spent to quickly get your workforce back into top production shape.

If you have any questions regarding this topic or any other HR or recruiting questions, we are happy to help. Premier HR Solutions provides HR Consulting Services and Recruiting Services to small and medium-sized businesses. Click on the link below to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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