The looming threat of automation and growing need for diverse skill sets has caused leaders at all organizations to take note of the increasing gaps in needed skills. But many have yet to make reskilling and upskilling high priorities. For those that have, success rates vary greatly but are generally lackluster.
Research by firms like Deloitte has revealed two important reasons for the lack of progress. First, many employers have a hard time identifying the development needs and priorities of their workforce. Added to this, most employers believe they need additional information just to understand the readiness of their people to meet new skill demands.
So, two of the biggest reasons organizations struggle to close skill gaps come down to leaders failing to understand which areas employees should focus on improving. Then, there is a lack of willingness to improve.
Should we be surprised that these problems exist to such high degrees? Some might say yes, considering the abundance of learning, training and other traditional professional development solutions available to the average worker. Nonetheless, the challenges persist.
Another conclusion to consider is that the obstacles stem from the larger issue of organizations failing to place people at the center of their reskilling strategy. In doing so, they fail to enable their people to execute on the strategy.
Out With the Old
A seismic shift to digital work environments and an increase in labor market volatility due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have caused organizational leaders to finally make reskilling a top priority. Only now is there an urgency to address skills gaps that employers felt they could address in the future.
As organizations recover and reset priorities to thrive in 2021, there is absolutely no doubt that investments in and a focus on reskilling are rising dramatically. And with all of the added attention, it is critical that the success rate for reskilling initiatives improves.
To see that improvement, along with a return on investment, it is time for employers to rethink their approach. Specifically, they need to ensure that the tools, programs and processes made available to help employees develop new skills are evolved to align with an employee experience that has changed rapidly. Doing that starts with understanding what is wrong about the way things are done now.
Trying to uncover employee strengths, weaknesses and desires for growth via annual reviews alone puts an organization and its people behind the curve from the start. If you had to sum up your year in an hour, how many important details would be lost?
Finding time to meet regularly to share and discuss feedback with managers, team leaders and peers is a must even if doing so during a pandemic has become increasingly challenging. When goals are put in place, how is progress being measured? And what tools are being used to digitally track important moments of progress, roadblocks or next steps?
Perhaps learning systems are implemented with content that supports desired skills. With a dispersed workforce, how is that system maximizing the spread of knowledge or best practices?
Tech Should Meet Every Need
Identifying the needs of the organization and developing employees to ensure they have the skills to meet those needs requires bringing together many components. Reskilling effectively by enabling people is not about just increasing engagement or only providing more training or merely measuring learning outcomes. Rather, it is about integrating the entire performance management experience to support talent development seamlessly. This starts with using technology that holistically supports employees’ growth.
Using a single learning platform to lay the foundation and provide tools can make succeeding with reskilling efforts more likely. The four main capabilities to demand from a platform are
- Engagement—Connectivity has never been more important, nor more difficult to achieve. The ways in which we communicate, give feedback and motivate employees are constantly changing. Ensuring employees have the ability to do all of these things with digital tools they will actually use will determine the level of participation and the scale of any reskilling effort.
- Learning—Delivering content and resources that provide knowledge regarding needed skills is essential but insufficient. An organization must also foster a culture of learning if it wants employees to share knowledge. Maximizing reskilling potential with a flexible learning management system that allows users to access first-party and third-party content is a must. So is allowing every employee to use the system no matter where they are or what time of day it is.
- Performance—Defining and measuring progress toward reskilling goals should be simple and informed by learning and engagement data that exist on the same system. When individuals are supported to meet objectives and key results, the organization’s performance rises in parallel.
- Mentoring—Reskilling does not stop with the addition of a single skill. Continuous learning becomes continuous performance, and an employee’s potential becomes unlimited when mentoring and coaching are available to help them take incremental steps. Finding a mentor is also a critical factor for improving performance, job satisfaction and loyalty to the organization.
Employers across the board are taking ownership to reskill workforces, but they continue to struggle with understanding where to start. The starting point is recognizing that, at the end of the day, it is the employees who are being asked to stretch their capabilities.
If the organization makes an effort to provide technology that can integrate employees’ ability to connect, learn, grow and provide value in the right places, performance becomes a mutual benefit. Otherwise, the return on reskilling efforts will continue to be disappointing, at best.
01 March 2021
HR News Article