The Big Quit, The Great Resignation, The Great Reshuffle, or, perhaps what an employer would call “the bane of my existence”. No matter what we call it, employees are now less afraid to switch jobs. On the one hand, employees are quitting by the dozen all over the world. A Pew Research Centre study shows that many cited low wages as the number one reason for their decision to quit, followed closely by a lack of opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work. Inflation and sky-high prices of maintaining a satisfactory lifestyle aren’t helping either. On the other, waking up to news about mass lay-offs in some of the biggest companies in the world seems almost commonplace now. At the centre of this duality lies what businesses and organisations now need most to sustain and succeed – skillability.
What is skillability?
Skillability is an employee’s capacity to take up, learn, and become proficient in new or unfamiliar skills. Slightly different from its counterpart, a skill is an employee’s capacity to perform a specific task based on existing knowledge and competence.
Organisations should now make skillability a significant part of an employee’s career progression and growth. It’s also an excellent way to decrease attrition rates and helps cover the skills gap. The faster an employee can develop a skill, the better it is for both the employee and the company. However, training an employee is not enough. Managers should create a supportive work environment for employees to test the waters with their new skills and give them autonomy to take things forward with the new learnings.
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5 ways to build and implement skillability at the workplace
Helping an employee learn new skills isn’t just about teaching them new technologies and tools. Skillabillity is a collaborative effort and can be a useful tool in business operations and strategy. Here are five ways to bring skillability into the workplace:
- Start with something familiar: For skillability to become a success at the workplace, both the employer and employee must come to a common ground and analyse which skill set would be beneficial in the long run. For instance, a UX writer gets into the depth of user problems and psyche to create literature about the world of usability. In this case, perhaps the UX writer may take a liking to the role of becoming a UX designer. Start by upskilling in a similar role and venture to more uncharted paths in due course.
- Harness untapped skills: Managers and leadership teams often forget that employees are more than the skills they possess at work and may have a host of other talents that have never had the chance to shine through. Go beyond employee’s job descriptions and uncover if they have more to offer. We’ve all heard at least one or several versions of the toothpaste story, haven’t we? Here’s the version that stuck. Several executives of a renowned toothpaste company were huddled together, racking their brains over how to increase sales. Discussions included top-level management, middle management, research teams, sales teams, and more. Yet, the solution came from the janitor. She suggested making the opening hole for the toothpaste larger. By increasing it by 1 mm in size, sales sky-rocketed. This shows that employers shouldn’t limit an employee to only the tasks they are expected to perform.
- Don’t set unrealistic expectations: Learning a new skill, even for those who are exceptionally good at what they do can be a daunting challenge. When given a choice, chance, and adequate support, any employee will make their best effort to upgrade their learning. But, employers must set realistic benchmarks for employees to meet and see through. Set achievable goals and timelines, so that employees can also hold themselves accountable and chart their growth and progress along the way. Keeping a track of one’s progress can also motivate one to do better and drive self-learning over a period of time.
- Give everyone a fair chance: In work and life, we meet different personalities. Some at work may be introverts and keep to themselves, yet they may be the silent leader steering the ship away from turbulent waters. It’s a pity but steadfast team members such as these and their efforts often go unnoticed. A University of Toronto Scarborough study shows that extroverts have a significant edge over introverts and are likely to be deemed better leaders in the workplace. As leaders, employees must identify the strengths in all employees and give everyone an equal opportunity at upskilling or allow them to contribute in their own ways by teaching them new skills.
- Create a supportive environment: The pandemic brought colossal changes to the workspace, the prime ones being a priority on work-life balance, mental health, and a sense of community. When stuck at home for years and working and communicating only through screens, employees found themselves confiding in each other and becoming a close-knit group. Through these new friendships, employees also found themselves learning new tricks, skills, and tools to enhance their careers. Organisations must actively engage in creating a wholesome work environment for all employees to thrive. Make it an atmosphere of growth and encouragement, so that skillability isn’t just about teaching employees how to take the company forward but also as a means to improve their professional and subsequently their personal lives.
We can’t anticipate what is yet to befall our workspaces and how we must deal with them. We can only make predictions and take the necessary steps to stay afloat. But, one thing is for sure. There is only one way forward, and that is upwards. To do that, organisations must take active steps in skillability and prepare employees to take on additional roles and tasks.
- Skillability: Will It Solve the Talent Crunch? | TalentCulture | October 18, 2022
- Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected | Pew Research Center | March 09, 2022
- Extroverts enjoy four key advantages according to a new UTSC study. Here they are. | University of Toronto Scarborough | May 29, 2019
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