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Build a Workforce That Includes These Essential On-The-Job Skills

Essential. We all got used to that concept during the COVID outbreak. Whether it’s workers in key tasks or making sure we all had a big enough stockpile of toilet paper, the pandemic drove home the definition of “essential.”

For businesses, this lesson extended to the skills possessed by their workers. Certain talents came to the forefront as companies scrambled to react to the unfolding disaster.

The eventual passing of the coronavirus won’t change the importance of these essential on-the-job skills. On an ongoing basis, these traits will remain central. Employers need to consider the types of skills their workforce will need to overcome challenges during and after the pandemic.

COVID altered the way our world operated, with businesses forced to shift their operations…and to implement those radical changes in what seemed like an instant. It’s uncertain how many of these alterations will be permanent, but the pandemic made one thing clear: certain skills are essential to surviving in uncertain times.

In other words, the outbreak underlined the need to build a workforce with certain foundational traits. Here are five essential on-the-job skills you should look for as you create your best team going forward:


Critical Thinking

Problems come up in every business. Whether they represent small, routine challenges or massive COVID-level economic disruptions, your employees will need to overcome obstacles for your company to succeed. You need to know your workers will approach those critical situations with the right mindset.

That’s what makes critical thinking so important. You don’t want workers who can only follow preset routines, without being able to adjust to circumstances. At the same time, you don’t want staff who will react impulsively when it’s time to make a quick decision.  You need your team to approach problem-solving with a rational process.



The business environment can change quickly. That might represent the biggest lesson from the COVID-19 outbreak. Remember February 2020? When unemployment sat below 4% and economic prospects seemed good for the foreseeable future? Well, after the outbreak, the jobless rate spiked into double digits, and every business was thrown into turmoil.

Flexibility became the heart of every company’s coronavirus response. The firms with employees who could improvise managed to survive (and even thrive) as the outbreak took hold. Those with rigid and unresponsive organizations floundered.


Commitment to Learn

Given the fluid nature of the economy, the ability to learn becomes a key attribute. A good employee now might become useless down the road if they can’t keep up with changing times. It’s important to have staff members who can develop as the market evolves.

As you hire, then, you should seek out a commitment to learning. Give priority to candidates who show a willingness to improve and add skills over time. This dedication will make them a strong contributor for the long haul.


Data Literacy

Efficiency comes as a result of precise data analysis. Gathering information is just the first step. You also need to be able to read the statistics and understand what they are trying to tell you. This makes data literacy a critical ability in any employee, as you seek to improve your organization over time.

This trait requires more than just gathering and interpreting data. Your ideal employee will also need the communication skills necessary to share information with all relevant stakeholders. Translating data into everyday terms makes it easier to implement the changes you need to make.



To a certain extent, leadership combines all the traits we’ve talked about so far. It requires critical thinking and flexibility. It also involves a long-range vision that feeds on the employee’s data literacy and commitment to learning.

However, leadership is also something more. It’s about getting others to share a vision and encouraging them to live up to their fullest potential. No matter what position you’re hiring for in the moment, you should be seeking out leaders. Even today’s entry-level candidates represent your potential managers of the future.

Looking to get the most out of every hire? Teaming with a strong recruiting firm, like TriStarr, can help.

Contact TriStarr today to find the perfect talent fit for your open positions.

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