Workforce management during Covid-19; what can we learn?

It is needless to say that the Covid-19 outbreak is impacting society on a scale only a few of us could have imagined. People are worried about their health and their loved ones and businesses struggle with a completely new playing field. For some companies and organisations business remains “as usual” but for most, big and small, it is all hands on deck. Either demand is booming, but with completely different ways of working, or it is just a matter of staying afloat.

For many of these organisations the impact on their workforce is beyond what they could have planned for. Expanding, decreasing or maybe even changing competencies overnight; it all needs to happen. And despite the supporting measures and funds from the (local) governments, it is a hell of a job.
However, we do see organisations turning elements of what is happening to their advantage and deal with the complexities these times bring with an eye on the future.

Analysing impacted organisations in the phase we are in, we see a number of key learning points:

We see organisations accelerate in building and executing workforce strategies with demand being low at this point. They make use of the situation to recalibrate what is needed and adjust their workforce strategy and models. This goes for perm recruitment as well as the contingent workforce strategies.

There is also a tendency to use the knowledge, expertise and competences hidden in the contingent workforce to develop new products, solutions, etcetera, often related to Covid-19. A good insight into the contingent workforce (capabilities, cost, availability, criticality) supports conscious decision making in this case.

Other companies step up and start training and upskilling their workforce for the upcoming technologies and AI. This “rise of the machines” might actually accelerate under the influence of social (and business) distancing. To make this happen, these companies had already made a roadmap to their desired destination (see:

Organisations that are confronted with a steep rise in demand of resources, like for example the healthcare domain, become increasingly flexible in adapting to what is possible. Offered and appreciated help from former healthcare employees is quickly converted into resources with the help of to-the-point trainings and instructions. This could very well lead to a change in the position of healthcare but also in how people are trained for the job.

Job rotation is brought to a whole new level with HQ based employees directly supporting core activities in the domain of supermarkets and logistics. Although it is a unique situation, the insights HQ/facilitating departments get is already described as “valuable” and “will impact future processes and decision making”.

We are convinced that there are much more good examples of the “upside” of this crisis related to workforces. The common denominators we see standing out at this point are 3 fold:

  1. Good insights in your workforce, permanent and contingent, are crucial if you want to mobilise any expertise, numbers or competencies
  2. Candidate markets are bigger than we might have thought. Identifying candidates and rapid deployment are a key focus points.
  3. A plan or strategy around any workforce helps keeping direction, especially when the direction needs to be adjusted

Organisations having these 3 points in place will likely benefit from this during the crisis and possibly have a competitive advantage coming out of it. Time will tell of course. In the meantime: stay safe!

Eugene van Berkel - TalentInAbout the author

Eugene van Berkel is Managing Partner at TalentIn. With his expertise he helps organisations build and execute their workforce strategy, making sure that what is designed can be implemented.

TalentIn has extensive national and international experience in developing and improving strategies for the recruitment of your permanent and temporary staff. We know how these programmes can be designed and implemented successfully. We advise, but can also provide practical support. Are you interested? Please contact us for an appointment without obligation via, or +31 10 307 54 22

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