One in three businesses are redesigning job roles, with ‘soft’ skills critical to post-lockdown recovery

The continued impact of COVID-19 is being felt in Britain’s workplaces, as new data from specialist recruiter Robert Half reveals one-in-three businesses are rescoping roles to assist with post-lockdown recovery.

  • One-in-three (29%) employers are currently redesigning roles in direct response to the impact of the pandemic
  • While digital and technical capabilities remain critical to post-lockdown recovery, two fifths (41%) of execs say ‘soft’ skills will be key to dealing with ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty
  • Other in-demand skills are focused on IT and business management as firms look to ensure agility and resilience moving forward

London, 17 September 2020: The continued impact of COVID-19 is being felt in Britain’s workplaces, as new data from specialist recruiter Robert Half reveals one-in-three businesses are rescoping roles to assist with post-lockdown recovery.

The survey of more than 1,500 executives highlights which skills and competencies are most in-demand as managers seek to get back on their feet and take advantage of growth opportunities in the ‘new normal’.

Focus on business management

In a world where remote working seems here to stay, it is perhaps no surprise that the top two in-demand skills are focused around IT security (32%) and IT management (30%), while financial management (25%) and business planning and analysis (21%) are also key.

These business management skills are being prioritised by employers as they look to ensure resilience in the case of a second wave, as well as to support new business strategies considering the evolving economic environment.

Companies within the UK are seeking to embrace change and build more agile, adaptable workforces, with Robert Half observing many businesses redesigning traditional job roles to meet current day demands.

HR, talent acquisition and office support roles are not only in higher demand at present, but have increased in importance given the support they provide companies going through business and digital transformations, as well as guiding predominantly remote workforces through new processes and functions.

The top 5 in-demand skills across key employment sectors

Technology & IT Finance & Accounting Office Administration
Project management (18%) Business planning & analysis (21%) HR/payroll support (21%)
Analytics (18%) Accounting operations (AP, AR, GL) (20%) Marketing & PR support (18%)
Business intelligence (16%)  Risk & compliance (17%) General administration (15%)
Cloud technology (15%) Tax & treasury (16%) Language skills (15%)

Digital expertise combined with human skills

Despite an increased focus on tech capabilities for specific roles, two fifths (41%) of executives believe that ‘soft’ skills will also be essential for dealing with the continued uncertainty associated with COVID-19.

The top in-demand ‘soft’ skills include creative thinking (38%) and agility (36%), highlighting the importance of innovative, flexible teams to help businesses recover post-lockdown, while effective communication (35%), strong leadership (33%) and strategic thinking (29%) are also in high demand.

A significant proportion of businesses are also focusing on levelling up their digital capabilities post-lockdown. Two fifths (41%) of C-suite respondents said they were fast-tracking digital transformation efforts over the remainder of the year, while a third (32%) will be prioritising their e-commerce strategy.

Robert Half has seen a surge in demand for technology roles, including network architects and developers, as many companies upgrade or expand their IT infrastructure and online revenue capabilities in response to shifting consumer demands and remote working.

Within finance and accounting, Robert Half has observed an increased focus on candidates with digital operations and data analytics experience, as well as a rise in demand for credit and cash control roles as businesses seek to automate and streamline their finance functions through cloud based systems.

Similarly, within financial services, Robert Half has also seen greater prioritisation of candidates with cloud computing and analytical skills, coupled with an increase in demand for payment and analyst roles.

Commenting, 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. 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 your post-COVID-19 recovery.”

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Notes to Editors

Additional Information & Resources

Robert Half understands that it takes time and effort to evaluate the best talent strategy for different businesses. For further independent advice to assist with your recruitment and workforce planning efforts, visit our blog.

Please note that post-COVID-19 salary and benefit trends will be further explored in Robert Half’s forthcoming 2021 Salary Guide, which will be available soon.

About Robert Half Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers hiring and job search services at

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at and