Why Pivoting People Is a Strategic Priority

To best prepare their organizations and workforces for post-pandemic changes, leaders should think through a set of critical questions.

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Just like post-pandemic physical workspaces will need revising, so too will the skill sets and capabilities of our employees. Yes, leaders absolutely need to reimagine the workplace, but organizations cannot lose sight of the people returning to those spaces. Focusing solely on redesigning the workplace or offering flexible work arrangements (such as remote or hybrid options) without considering employees will hamstring organizations by leaving their people in the lurch.

If new strategies cause changes to our workplace, then those same strategies certainly warrant a closer inspection of our workforces — both leaders and employees. The pandemic made it necessary for companies to make strategic pivots to adapt to rapidly changing environments. To meet these new demands, they must also pivot the people within their organizations. Pivoting people refers to a form of talent management that focuses on retraining employees so that they can fill those jobs or roles most closely aligned with an organization’s strategic direction. Preparing employees now, through reskilling and upskilling, will allow organizations to move forward without forcing their employees to adapt on the fly — or, worse, to fail.

Focusing on Skills and Retraining

As the economic recovery from the pandemic gains speed, the emergence of new jobs created explicitly to support organizations’ revised strategic directions are inevitable. There are several reasons why it is important for companies to prioritize employee retention and retraining rather than simply recruiting new talent for these positions. The cost of hiring is often prohibitively expensive. In addition, institutional knowledge is hard-won and difficult to transmit in the short term to new employees via traditional onboarding. And finally, showing loyalty to employees is likely to increase their own level of commitment to your organization.1 Yet, before retraining employees, it is incumbent upon leaders to both understand and clearly define their organization’s new direction.

What Is My Organization’s New Direction?

With the sheer amount of commentary on the future of the workplace being published in leading business outlets, it is tempting to jump on the bandwagon and incorporate the myriad recommended changes into your organization. But it’s important to remember that no two organizations are the same. This is a mantra that all leaders should repeat over and over in this period of change — change that will be both rapid and expected, by both employees and customers.



1. C. McAllister and G. Ferris, “The Call of Duty: A Duty Development Model of Organizational Commitment,” in “Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management,” vol. 34, eds. M.R. Buckley, J.R.B. Halbesleben, and A.R. Wheeler (Bingley, England: Emerald Publishing, 2016): 209-244.

2. M. Martinko, J. Mackey, S. Moss, et al., “An Exploration of the Role of Subordinate Affect in Leader Evaluations,” Journal of Applied Psychology 103, no. 7 (July 2018): 738-752.

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Comments (2)
Very helpful and useful advice.  For my own purposes in mid-level management of an organization with a flat hierarchy, I focused on para. 9 (“Maintaining a sense of community. . .”) and para. 17 (“Additionally, leaders should embrace one-on-one leadership . . .).  I can absolutely see how applying these ideas can help me be more effective.
Respectfully submitted,
Stuart Roehrl
Manish Thaker
Good article. Covering minute though very important details which generally goes unnoticed,