The pandemic events this year have greatly accelerated the ever-growing skills gap, and the business concern of closing it. Before COVID-19, increases in the speed of technological change prompted reskilling movements — such as the Reskilling Revolution — to launch. But the talent disruption and sudden switch to remote work in 2020 have added a new level of urgency for companies to address reskilling needs themselves.
The good news? Data shows that business leaders are up to the task. In fact, PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey reported most CEOs consider “retraining/upskilling” as critical in closing a potential skills gap in their organization. The bad news? Companies have historically struggled at reskilling effectively. So, what’s getting in the way of progress?
If you ask CEOs from the same study, they reported employee motivation to learn and apply their learning as the biggest obstacle in reskilling effectiveness. What’s curious about that is 77% of employees from the report said they would learn new skills or completely retrain to improve their future employability.
It’s apparent that there is a major difference between employee and employer sentiment, and the reskilling challenges they perceive. But I think the disparity could be stemming from a larger disconnect: Legacy training, performance, and learning programs have not evolved to accommodate the employee experience in an effective way.
It’s not just companies that are under pressure, it’s their people. Workers today are taking on new responsibilities, with less support and more interruptions than ever before. Many companies are going to great lengths to keep employees connected and collaborating. Similar approaches should be taken when it comes to skills development. This means creating a truly holistic strategy that combines engagement, talent, and performance management tools and resources in a way that enables employees.
The wrong way to execute on that strategy would be for HR or talent leaders to create a complicated process, duct-taping systems into some sort of professional development gauntlet. How can you expect employees to gain and apply new skills if the way they learn is disconnected from the way they set learning goals?
Instead, reskilling initiatives should aim to implement technology that truly integrates the development experience. If the variety of tools that employees access to learn and grow all work together, the development process becomes painless and employees are enabled to execute on the business strategy.
Reskilling Starts With People
Previously, companies could get away with the disconnected “gauntlet” approach to employee development because reskilling was less of an overall business imperative. In post-pandemic times, however, survival requires an approach to reskilling that enables people. This starts with understanding the challenges employees are now facing daily.
Workers with kids are still fighting for a few hours a day of focus time, departments that have shrunk are being stretched thin, and teams are fatigued from managers who don’t trust their ability to work from home. Not to mention the amount of workers having to operate fully digitally for the first time ever — and that’s all in the short term.
The circumstances in which people are getting work done are more unique than ever. Introducing a learning portal alone isn’t going to jump-start reskilling. But if companies make an effort to understand how employee needs have changed and create learning goals that align with the larger business strategy and the gaps at the employee level, they’ll be on the right path. This is opposed to a non-personalized, one-size-fits-all approach across the organization.
When the learning goals of your people are aligned with company goals, a reskilling effort will have a positive impact on business performance across the board. All that’s left is to execute on that strategy by ensuring employees are enabled to build skills successfully.
Putting It All Together
Getting employees aligned on skills growth is critical and will be continuously rewarding in a few important ways:
- It increases confidence in one’s ability to do their job well
- It supports personal value by establishing a path for career growth
- It provides a level of certainty as to how an employee’s contribution impacts the organization
We know that employees want to learn. For reskilling effectiveness, they need technology that doesn’t get in their way. The right integrated platform will support employees with a wide range of capabilities.
People have to be engaged in order to be on board with the company mission, and motivated to build skills that impact the organization. Without engagement, training programs fall short. Tools to connect employees with leadership on a frequent basis will be crucial in understanding what obstacles employees face and what value they aspire to provide to the company.
When skills goals have been identified, employees need the resources to learn. With an integrated LMS, learning leaders can provide content that supports individual employee needs as well as foster a culture of knowledge-sharing for the organization. When everyone is learning, growth flourishes.
As employees begin to make progress toward goals, companies need the ability to easily track that progress. Reskilling for individuals should map back to the overall company strategy, and leaders need analytics to ensure progress is being made toward company goals too.
- Coaching and Mentoring
Lastly, true reskilling is only effective when learning is sustained. An integrated platform should provide employees with access to mentorship and coaching for continuous performance.
Integration Is Key
When it comes to the need for reskilling, the pandemic has not been a change agent. It’s been an accelerant. Although reskilling is a desperate need, it should be approached with the employee in mind and supported in ways that simplify the development process.
After all, employees have a desire to gain new skills. They just need the right help to clear their performance gaps. With the right integrated performance and development management platform, business leaders can execute on their business strategy by enabling employees to reskill effectively.