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One in three UK businesses are redesigning job roles, with focus on ‘soft’ skills

Kalila Sangster
·3 mins read
Working from home during pandemic
Companies are concerned with building more agile, adaptable workforces to help with post-lockdown recovery. Photo: Getty

One in three (29%) UK employers are currently redesigning job roles in direct response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research from international recruitment consultancy, Robert Half UK.

Companies are concerned with building more agile, adaptable workforces and taking advantage of opportunities for growth to help with post-lockdown recovery, the survey of more than 1,500 executives found.

‘Soft’ skills were highlighted as key for moving forward as two-fifths (41%) of executives believe they are vital in the workplace amid the continued uncertainty associated with COVID-19.

The most desirable ‘soft’ skills include creative thinking and agility, with 38% of employers looking for these skills, emphasising the importance of innovative, flexible teams to help businesses recover after lockdown. Effective communication (35%), strong leadership (33%) and strategic thinking (29%) were also in high demand.

READ MORE: Two-thirds of employers plan on offering flexible working post-COVID-19

Business management skills were also in demand, with IT security (32%) and IT management (30%) shown to be sought after skills as many businesses make a more permanent shift towards remote working. This reflects a rise in demand for technology roles, including network architects and developers, as many businesses look to upgrade their IT infrastructure and online revenue capabilities in response to shifting consumer demands and remote working.

Financial management (25%), and business planning and analysis (21%) skills were also in high demand as companies consider new business strategies within the current economic climate. Two-fifths (41%) of executives said they were fast-tracking digital transformation efforts over the rest of 2020, while a third (32%) will be prioritising their e-commerce strategy.

The research also pointed to HR, talent acquisition and office support roles as becoming more important as they provide essential support for companies going through business and digital transformations, as well as assisting predominantly remote workforces with getting to grips with new processes and functions.

Matt Weston, managing director of Robert Half UK, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us do business, both now and in the future.

READ MORE: One step companies can take to keep female talent from leaving

“Remote working has enabled talent pools around the world to open up which, for some companies, means that existing employees with key skills can be redeployed in the short-term to deliver business-critical roles. For others, however, changing customer demands and new working patterns have meant skills gaps have suddenly appeared — for digital transformation and e-commerce, in particular.

“Effective permanent, temporary, and interim hiring strategies can help bridge these gaps by upskilling teams with the required specialist competencies and behaviours needed.

“Now is the ideal time to redesign job roles, retrain current employees and consider new combinations of permanent, temporary and project-based staff in order to build a smart, flexible staffing plan to supercharge post-COVID-19 recovery.”