The outbreak of COVID-19 has shaken up the global workforce and caused a paradigm shift not only in the way companies operate, but also in the way professionals view their careers. As remote-based working environments are now a new norm, employees are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain work-life balance (41%), resulting in them considering a shift in their current careers.
Employers are now scrambling to find ways to engage, retain and upskill their current employees to be ready for any unpredictable situation. The recent Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends study found that the impact of the pandemic has driven Southeast Asian employers to future-proof their business through the restructuring of the internal workforce (48%) and the constant upskilling (39%) amongst their employees. There is no doubt that the pandemic has highlighted a strong need for employee engagement, upskilling and reskilling.
Despite this, plenty of companies have neither been able to fully leverage their intellectual property, nor offer a truly inclusive business-social experience. Perhaps this is due to geographical separation, tech not designed to be human-centric, or L&D training based on outdated learning methods that do not work as well on adults.
So how can businesses evolve to provide the best learning and development training for their employees in fresh new ways?
Upskilling is a top priority amidst the tech boom
The pandemic resulted in many industries being forced to gravitate towards the digital world. Businesses that are not able to quickly adapt are left to struggle. Newer skills are required to operate and interact with any upcoming technological innovations. Needless to say, the demand for tech talents has far exceeded the availability of it. In Southeast Asia, nearly 70% of hiring managers took more than three months to fill a vacancy for tech positions. Especially with border restrictions, this limits the inflow of tech talent, and is now up to businesses to innovate and focus on developing their local workforce. Providing ample opportunities, together with adequate L&D training for their available talent pool, is the best and most practical approach for businesses.
Some skills are more critical than others
A common misconception by businesses is that upskilling is as simple as picking up any new skill. However, there is so much more when crafting the right L&D training program for employees. HR departments should first identify the emerging trends and new definitions of the relevant industry before planning training programs that are appropriate for business success. Nonetheless, there are some skills that employees should equip themselves with across all industries for the post-pandemic era.
Communication has and will always be a critical skill. The need for good communication skills is especially crucial now with face-to-face meetings no longer being a viable option. With the dispersed workforce, employees’ communication skills, especially within a cross-functional team, is highly necessary, since it is the only way co-workers can keep track of progress. Leveraging on new technologies can better engage and connect with their teams on various topics (e.g. onboarding, product training).
Additionally, the lack of constant surveillance from the higher management within the company means that self-leadership skills are even more important, as employees have to stay motivated and productive while being accountable for the task at hand. This includes independent working skills such as leading oneself, the understanding of motivations, and the managing of relationships by building trust and managing conflicts.
Lack of time to pick up new knowledge and the challenge of loneliness in a remote workforce
Despite a dire need to ramp up employee training and development, there are a multitude of challenges that come with it.
Traditional on-the-job L&D training that takes place in the office is no longer feasible as most employees are now working from home. It is not financially viable to schedule multiple training sessions with an external trainer. Businesses are now looking for a one-stop, holistic solution that enables their employees to be trained effectively and takes into account remote work arrangements.
Another challenge that can arise from a remote workforce is the decrease in employee engagement. Since the onset of the pandemic, the lack of opportunities for employees to network and collaborate has led to a steadily declining effect on their morale. Hence, an approach that can address low team morale would naturally increase employee engagement and productivity.
Lastly, the lack of willingness for employees to commit more time to L&D training is another challenge that organisations are dealing with. This is evident from employees’ concerns surrounding longer working hours that blur the lines of work and life, prolonged fatigue and severe burnout.
Effective upskilling in social ways
Moving beyond passive e-learning experiences for a post-pandemic world, employers should provide a human-centered solution that helps businesses to create and enhance employees’ learning experiences through microlearning that is effective, engaging and social. Teams can upskill and reskill on critical topics like leadership or communications at their own time and pace while having a shared experience.