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Thought Leadership

8 Talent Challenges in Uncertain Times

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Through UNC Executive Development’s recent Virtual Roundtables we have covered such topics as implementing strategy during COVID, the pivot to virtual learning and how to secure a learning and development (L&D) budget during uncertain times. From these discussions, eight key talent challenges emerged.

We compiled these challenges along with resources from UNC Executive Development to help you and your organization address these hurdles while maintaining a healthy, productive work environment.

1. Dealing with stress and uncertainty

When home and work become synonymous, the line between career and life can blur and we might struggle to create boundaries between the two. UNC Affiliate Faculty Richard Jolly provides ideas for balancing work and life responsibilities, being aware of warning signs of stress, and how to seize the unique opportunities the uncertainty 2020 has created in his Faculty Insight Series Coping with Uncertainty.

2. Addressing inequity and bias

In light of the global racial injustice movement organizations have made inequity and bias a top priority. UNC Executive Development is committed to this movement. UNC Professor Elad Sherf discusses how seeking feedback from employees can improve inclusion in his article Seeking and Finding Fairness at Work.

3. Working remote effectively

Seemingly overnight, employees transitioned from working in offices to working at home, often with their partners also working and their children attending school virtually. Managers found themselves trying to find ways to continue to engage their employees and maintain morale. UNC professor Arv Malhotra provides several ideas for improving the virtual working environment in his article Making Virtual (Teams) Better.

4. Managing change and agility

Even before COVID-19, organizations were experiencing challenges due to the rapid advancements in technology, shifts in workforce demographics, and a changing political environment. Leaders of today need to be equipped with a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) mindset to proactively anticipate change and lead through the uncertainty. Our white paper Developing Leaders in a VUCA Environment discusses how HR and talent managers can foster this in leaders.

5. Building resilience

A strong level of resilience is a critical skill to navigate a VUCA world. As UNC Affiliate Faculty Dane Jensen says, resilience is built in the troughs, not the peaks. The uncertainty of 2020 has made the need to develop the skill of resilience more important than ever. In the article Thriving Under Pressure, Dane discusses ways to develop resilience as people face and adjust to a new way of working.

6. Creating work-life balance

With so many demands on our time, it can be easy to de-prioritize our own well-being. But if we are not taking care of ourselves, we cannot be there for others, nor perform at our best. Professor Richard Jolly encourages us to consider three well-being concepts — stop, think, and sleep — in his article Take Care of Yourself: Stop, Think, and Sleep.

7. Coaching during a pandemic

Even in good times, leaders face a high level of pressure, and the current environment has become even more challenging for all leaders in all industries. Without the face-to-face element, L&D leaders find themselves in search of the most effective ways to offer their employees coaching and ensure their continued growth and support in a virtual space. In our article Into the Unknown, UNC Professor Alison Fragale shares ways to coach through the screen.

8. Developing mindfulness & wellness

We are all under an incredible amount of stress as we navigate the unknown. Professor Richard Jolly addresses the effects of stress and how our attitude towards it shapes productivity, performance, and wellbeing in his Faculty Insight Series Living Life to the Full. He also provides a look into why this crisis is a key opportunity to reframe our attitude towards stress.