While technology alone might not be enough to herald change in the workplace, it is one of the primary drivers of how we work and how it affects economies worldwide. Our reliance on all things tech has contributed to a better quality of life, financial stability, and quicker, smarter decision-making at the workplace. Yet, for those who aren’t jumping on the bandwagon of ever-evolving tech, life may not stay as cosy. Companies worldwide are now preparing for workforce reskilling, making it an integral part of their strategies to meet business objectives in these testing times. Moving with the times by workforce reskilling is the need of the hour and the only way to stay relevant. Yet, only reskilling staff in technological roles won’t cut if companies are to thrive.
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What is reskilling?
Reskilling is the process of enabling employees to learn or take up new skill sets to move into a different role or profile within the organisation. It helps both employees and companies meet the new demands of the changing workplace landscape. With new facelifts being thrust on all businesses across industries, many jobs and roles are becoming redundant. Few, even obsolete. Reskilling facilitates new tasks and responsibilities for employees as they become irrelevant or due to a technology or skills gap.
Back in 2017, even before there was even a whisper of a pandemic that would shake the entire world and force it to shut down, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 14% of the global workforce, or as many as 375 million workers, would have to acquire new skills by 2030 to stay in the game. It seems that workers around the world have very little choice in the matter–automation and artificial intelligence will make it so. There is, though, one other way to go about it – switch jobs. But, even those new roles rely heavily on technology.
Another McKinsey Global Survey indicated that 87% of executives said they were experiencing skills gaps and or expected them in the years to come. Yet, less than half had a clear direction in addressing the issue.
Why is workforce reskilling a pressing priority in 2023?
An undeniable integration of technology in all aspects of work is the overarching theme worldwide. With unprecedented developments in new systems and software and giant leaps triggered by the pandemic, employees are expected to learn or improve their technical skills.
With digital transformation powered by AI and machine-learning systems, productivity is at an all-time high, indispensable process are automated, and there is a keen interest towards enhancing employee training programs. Along with core technical skills, soft skills, too, are taking centre stage. Leadership and management teams must have empathy in their primary skill set to run successful teams.
How companies can get a leg up in workforce reskilling
Identify the skills gap: To stay ahead of the curve, companies must first identify the root of the problem rather than devising strategies for solutions. Leadership teams must look for skills they need and those that need doing away with. There are a few ways to go about this. Peer reviews are popular in discovering what an employee lacks and also in identifying skills that they may never have had a chance to present. Acknowledge the contribution of every team member, no matter how small, and work on building a strategy around it. Sometimes, the best ideas are always under our noses, and we fail to recognise them. On the other hand, employees, too, must be open to new learning and the changing workplace expectations. A self-awareness of their strengths and their limitations and the courage to speak openly about them will help ease the process. For that, leaders must create a supportive environment for weaknesses to be brought forth without judgement.
Personalised developmental programs for employees: While catering to each employee specifically might be a stretch, especially in companies employing thousands of people, asking employees how they would wish to pursue reskilling through one-on-one sessions, surveys, or questionnaires can make the process easier. Identify leader and trainee groups to match skill sets across teams and verticals to create tailor-made sessions for employees.
Focus on soft skills: The last few years changed the way we view work, workplace relationships, the need for empathetic behaviour in how we conduct business, and more so ourselves. Besides technical know-how and special skills to adapt to the workplace, soft skills are now essential to survive. Soft skills help foster a healthy environment in the workplace, leading to better relationships, more productivity, transparency, a robust sense of trust, and a community that supports each other.
As children, we segregated time for each chapter before a big exam. When we’re able to process information in small, bite-sized chunks, we can retain information longer and perform better. Apply the same practice for your employees as well, rather than burdening them with a pile of new information. Not only will it overwhelm them, but it may also discourage them from learning the skills they need to stay abreast of the current work trends.
Peer-to-peer work projects, learning on the job, and setting up dedicated hours online, so employees can learn from the comfort of their own safe space, can propel them to pick things up quicker and also implement them in their everyday work profile.
Avoid laying off employees
‘Tis the season of layoffs, but perhaps, it doesn’t have to be for your company. IBM’s “The Value of Training” report shows that when employees are given access to training, 42% are more likely to stay with the company. It also reduces turnover rates for the company, and reskilling also helps reduce voluntary employee separations.
As we try to keep our heads above turbulent waters, the only way forward is to embrace change. As technology enables future-ready workplaces, workforce reskilling will help companies grow to unprecedented heights.
- The Value of Training, IBM Training
- To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now, McKinsey & Company, May 07, 2020
- What Is Reskilling? +Benefits, Challenges, How-To (2023), Whatfix, July 25, 2022
- Why Reskilling is More Important Than Ever, Valamis, December 28, 2022
- Why companies need to reskill their workforce in 2023, People Matters, December 13, 2022
- 5 Upcoming Trends in Employee Upskilling & Reskilling in 2023, Edugraph, December 24, 2022
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