Workplace skills – before, during and after the corona pandemic

Author: Dragana Okanović, psychologist, HR Consultant, TIM Centar

Workplace skills

In the past few months, we came across the term „crisis“ very often and it can be heard from many different sources. Majority of people are concerned about the possible outcomes and the consequences of pandemic. There are lot of unknown variables in the equation and predictions of any kind are very hard to make. However, having all these things in mind, we still have the possibility to actively approach to this crisis and to influence those things that are in our domain of influencing. A lot of the companies have started with the preparation for „getting back to normal“ and the question that arises regarding the comeback is the question of the skills that we will need in our workplace to better cope with the changes and to be effective.

But let’s go one step backward for a moment and let us take a look at the skills that were in the workplace focus before the pandemic. Linked in’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report highlights five top soft-skills which are considered to be the most important for the success, regarding different professions and job roles. These are: creativity, persuasion, cooperation, adaptability and emotional intelligence. The first impression when you look at the list is that all of these skills are more human centric and are aimed at long term development, not just the efficiency. Beside the professional and technical competencies, which are also very important, the research and the practice confirm that these five skills are the key ones that make or break our ability to get things done.

Once the pandemic started, it was of the utmost importance to provide health and safety for employees. Stability and good balancing between focus on people and processes were also important. Once again, adaptability, cooperation, communication, emotional stability and creativity were in the focus and the companies that nurtured and applied this approach and these skills have succeeded in preserving both people and business.

After the past and present, let us take a glance at the future (and the future skills), being completely aware that there are no „correct answers“. In the Forbes’s article (Marr, B. 2020) the author outlines that the skills we will need in the post-corona world are: adaptability, creativity, emotional intelligence, leadership, critical thinking and technical competencies (technical savvy, data literacy, digital and coding skills). Does this list seem familiar to you?

The one thing can be concluded for sure. We are already living in an unpredictable, fast changing world with a lot of uncertainty. Unpredictability and uncertainty are just amplified in the time of crisis. It is no wonder that the list of needed skills in the workplace is repeating.

It seems like the answer for future outcomes and better dealing with the consequences is not in the form of specific solution, concrete advice, or even some specific skill. The answer lies in our healthy, constructive approach toward problems (and life), long term professional and personal development, lifelong learning and our ability to adapt to changes. It is very important not to forget to be humane because, at the end, that is what connects us and enables us to live fulfilling and happy life.

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