The future of work after COVID demands that employers rethink their approach to the employee experience, as The Great Resignation proves.
Many organizations are revising their upskilling and reskilling strategy – after all, the most valuable employees are those who grow and develop new skills to meet the changing needs of your organization. That adaptability has typically defined the success of an HR team.
With COVID-19, economic pressures, and social upheaval, this time period is unlike any that most of us have lived through.
We’re facing constant change and disruption. So how can companies develop a workforce that can continually grow and adapt?
“Upskilling and reskilling is more important than ever,” says Minda Harts, Founder and CEO of The Memo, LLC, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU.
“Companies now have the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. For example, I recently read that more than 1 billion jobs will be reconfigured by 2030. We need to start now to ensure we’re providing our employees with the skills they need to meet that demand.”
Upskilling and reskilling strategy 101: Agility for the win
The ability to assess skills and quickly make adjustments is a competitive advantage, especially in a pandemic.
“I’ve seen several case studies of companies that redeployed their staff into different parts of the business – at scale – because their original roles weren’t being utilized in the new work-from-home, remote work structure,” says Lars Schmidt, founder of Amplify and cofounder of HR Open Source. “Companies that can use upskilling and reskilling to make those adjustments are coming out ahead right now.”
It feels like the events of 2020 dropped us right in the middle of the future of work.
We’re all trying to figure out what to do and which roles and responsibilities we’ll need tomorrow, explains Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart HR. “We can’t just stand in the moment and reflect. We have to respond to it – now,” explains Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart HR.
Technology can help to provide relevant learning and development, improving gaps by identifying skills-driven learning paths that support goal development. Meanwhile, modern HR solutions ensure an immersive engaging learner experience.
“When choosing a technology, think about how it will become part of your performance plans,” says Price. “That will help you make sure that skills are not just learned in a workshop, but continually thought about and influenced in the organization.”
Watch this episode of The Rise Of HXM on upskilling, reskilling, and putting people first, featuring my co-hosts Minda Harts and Lars Schmidt and special guest Joey Price.
What’s new in learning technology?
HXM can disrupt old ways of learning. The days of classroom-based training are over. By offering new modes of technology-enhanced learning, modern tools allow people to learn how and where they want. Not only is creating an engaging learner experience important, but so is integrating learning in the flow of work.
“It’s about in-the-moment, snackable, bite-sized, and on-demand pieces of content,” says Schmidt. “The technology makes it super easy for employees to find what they need, when they need it, and get the access they need to do their work. There are many different HXM platforms and resources for building a cutting-edge practice that supports learning agility, learning velocity, upskilling, and reskilling.”
Focusing on flexibility also benefits businesses. As job functions change and new or different roles arise, companies need to appropriately retrain employees to maintain productivity.
“To do that, you can use HXM technology to scale faster,” says Harts. “We can train so many more people with the right technology.”
HXM technology can also help organizations listen to employees and understand the gap between what employees need and what’s provided by their employers. Gathering employee feedback on what’s effective and what’s not is key to driving continuous improvement of learning and development solutions.
By making wellness a priority and leading with compassion, modern HR leaders are improving employee well-being and boosting morale.
There are five generations in the workplace: How does that affect upskilling and reskilling?
Learning and education is different for each generation, and people have different needs, preferences, and goals. HR teams need to marry HXM technology with the needs of real human beings.
By providing personalized learning and development opportunities, we can help ensure that each employee gets what they need to grow in their role – and in the company.
“We have to think about a more bespoke approach to talent development,” advises Price. “Think about the motivation for people who want to train. What will incentivize them to perform well? The more intentional we are about training and development, the more valuable our results will be.”
The employee’s career stage matters, too.
Generations are important, but employee career stage also influences learning needs.
A new hire who is early in their career probably needs different training than engaged, tenured workers who seek leadership opportunities, for example. Good news: Companies are getting better at understanding these distinctions.
“We shouldn’t bucket people according to set expectations,” says Schmidt. “Whether it relates to early-stage career development, fertility benefits, or elder care assistance, companies are starting to think much more broadly about how they can support and motivate their employees.”
This disruption isn’t just an economic shock: it's a shock to customer behaviors and business models, making remote work and e-learning critical to success.
Employees must take ownership of their learning, and companies must provide empowerment to do so
As the pace of change accelerates, empowering employees to accelerate their own learning is essential – as is talent management.
“We’re going to be in volatile times for a while,” says Schmidt. “The single most important skill we can have in our employees now is a growth mindset – an appetite for and interest in learning. The more we can embed, support, and encourage learning within our own organizations, the more we’re going to win as employers, HR departments, and employees.”
This focus on employee growth and development is the best way to support personalized learning at scale.
“We have the potential to build more agility and adaptability into our organizations and reskill our workforce to meet the demands of the future,” says Harts. “If we start right now, we get a chance to partner with our talent. We can find out what they need to be equipped for the next generation of work and ensure they have the skills needed for the company to succeed.”
With the right learning culture and HXM technology, employers can turn challenges into opportunity.
“Technology helps people stay up to date and hunt for signs regarding the future,” says another viewer, Néstor Márquez, who is executive partner and founder of Future Experts. “We can use these tools to solve those enormous problems, which will undoubtedly be a source of opportunities and income.”
Today more than ever a company-wide learning strategy is a strategic lever for business resilience and success. “COVID-19 presents an opportunity to help your company become the organization you’ve always wished it could be and the company that your employees wish they could work for,” says Price.