Equipping your leadership team for uncertain times: what HR & L&D need to do

23rd Feb 2023

Uncertain economic times, recession, and the impact this has on your employees means your business needs more from its leadership team. HR & L&D need leaders and managers to be efficient, resilient and able to adapt and deal with many different challenges presented in the coming months. However, beyond simply dealing with the issues, they must find solutions and proactive ways to manage the multiple challenges.

Our Skills Development Employee report shows that most employees feel their manager has the skills to succeed. Nearly three in five (59%) of employees believe their line manager has the right leadership skills to support them. This statistic rises to two in three (66%) of younger employees and decreases with age, with just 51% of those aged 55-64 believing their line manager has the adequate skills. While improving these percentages is vital, it shows line managers have the prerequisite abilities to succeed, but to keep the momentum alive, it is critical to invest in their training and support their continued professional development. You can equip them for unknown and unprecedented times with the right upskilling and reskilling approach.

Thinking back to recruiting over the last six months, the biggest challenges that HR face is finding candidates with the right skillset (52%).

HR professionals are looking to address these challenges in a number of ways:

  • Through developing existing staff (58%)
  • Recruiting new staff and training (51%)
  • Offering flexibility such as working from home and flexible hours (32%)

Leadership challenges

Navigating leadership development is essential to ensure your best talent is not lost due to a lack of attentiveness or simply because you aren’t supporting them well. Key considerations that may be impacting your leadership development include:

  • A lack of development for mid-level managers
  • A lack of diversity in your leadership teams leads to a lack of motivation in your wider teams, who do not feel represented
  • A leadership development approach that does not position your leaders well for the future of the workplace
  • Line managers are prematurely promoted and not supported in their new roles
  • Succession management processes are not functioning effectively and not delivering the right managers at the right times

High-performing leaders and managers need to achieve a balance between soft skills, leadership acumen and the digital necessities essential for the future world of work. Equipping your leaders with these skills is essential to avoid the above situations, where managers simply do not have the capacity or skills to lead effectively.

Change in workforce expectations

The current job market is candidate-led, and employers must find ways to deliver exactly what the candidates are looking for to ensure they attract the best talent. The same applies to retaining your top employees. Your leaders and managers have to satisfy the many needs of candidates to keep them satisfied including:

  • Flexibility and adaptability: understanding that employees may need a more flexible approach to work, such as hybrid working, to perform their best and maximise their potential without sacrificing other commitments.
  • Empathy: we’re living through difficult economic times, and leadership teams can and must be supportive and understand the difficulties posed by recession and the cost of living crisis.
  • Promote diversity and inclusion: managers must be trained in DE&I, actively welcoming and fostering a diverse workforce, and encouraging their teams to be themselves.
  • Authenticity: through active listening and genuinely responding to employees, leaders can offer a more trustworthy and authentic approach

Modern managers must be empowered to deliver all the above qualities through their leadership approach and consider the importance of other factors that will define the quality of their leadership.

Agile change management

The changes all workplaces are facing are challenging and can put pressure on your teams. However, this level of change is stressful and can lead to employee burnout. Therefore, leaders have to be responsive and available to support employees and be equipped to lead change. Change management is a highly valuable leadership quality that ensures you can communicate change effectively to your workforce. This, in turn, helps ensure they are less stressed and more able to cope with change effectively.

Developing a diverse workforce

Diversity has never been more important. The demand for a diverse workforce has not come soon enough, and your leaders must be on board and lead the change. To stay on top of recruitment and boost your workforce culture diversity, you need to make the most of your leaders and consider training programmes to promote and be inclusive of underrepresented groups. Corndel can help by using the Apprenticeship Levy, which can help achieve diversity across your workforce. Apprenticeships can help organisations to build a more diverse workforce by offering fully-funded workplace training opportunities across underrepresented groups. One CIPD survey found that 23% of employers agreed that the levy would help them build a more diverse workforce.

Strategy and planning in uncertain economic times

McKinsey research shows 40% of people who left their job did not have a new one waiting for them. This leads back to the candidates’ market and employees knowing there is a vacancy out there for them. Planning and anticipating for resignations ensures you have talented people to step into the breach should you need them. Upskilling your people with a comprehensive range of critical business skills helps manage the pressure if you do lose any employees.

Your future work and recruitment strategy need to be reflective of what we know and what we can predict. Some businesses have opted for a full focus on remote or hybrid employees, but this doesn’t satisfy the needs of those who plan to work in-house every day. Similarly, you need to build recruitment strategies that deliver and exceed the expectations of candidates. The uncertain economic times mean learning and development are even more important to candidates. Our research shows 57% believe that learning and development packages become more important during a recession. We’ve also found that 60% of people are more likely to go for a position with personalised development and career progression over an increased salary. Employees are looking for a company that cares and somewhere they can see their future. It’s up to you to deliver this at all levels, including new managers and leaders.

How Corndel enables organisations to tackle strategic leadership challenges.

Corndel has a range of leadership and management programmes, ensuring corporate businesses can upskill and reskill their leadership teams at all stages of their career. Our programmes are purpose-built to align with all levels, from team leaders to departmental managers to senior leadership teams. We cover several apprenticeship standards and are fully supported by your levy pot, meaning no commercial budget is required.

Our Level 3 Diploma in Management introduces the steps for transformational change within your leadership team, empowering first-time leaders to succeed. Our Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management delves deeper into the critical skills and knowledge to advance into more senior leadership positions.

Our Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship builds in-demand skills, knowledge and behaviours for aspiring and current managers. Fast-track your brightest stars into key management positions and ensure your employees have the leadership they need.

Finally, our partnership with Imperial College London offers our Level 7 Executive Development Programme, where your highflyers and senior leaders can be equipped with the necessary skills for the future workplace. Imperial College stands out as a highly regarded educational institution, and their academic prowess blends perfectly with the vocational expertise and excellence that Corndel deliver.

Your apprenticeship levy is invaluable for accessing Corndels’ high-quality training for your leadership teams. All UK employers with a pay bill over £3m per year pay the apprenticeship levy, and accessing your funding is straightforward.

HR and L&D leaders must prioritise futureproofing and upskilling their company’s leaders for success.