“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
-Sir Richard Branson
In this time of immense disruptive change, agility is essential for organizations to tap into their employees’ talents to respond and recover. To stay competitive and relevant, an organization must have employees with the right skills to help it be productive, innovative, and ultimately more profitable. According to a McKinsey Global Survey, between 71-90% respondents said their skill transformations have had a positive impact on four company outcomes: the ability to realize company strategy, employees’ performance and satisfaction, and reputation as an employer.
In the fintech industry, identifying and filling the skills gap is critical to drive business strategy forward. As we transform to a digital future, special focus needs to be levied on reskilling and upskilling as means to enable a nimble workforce that can respond to the changing nature of work and make transitions into new roles and responsibilities.
Some ways in which we can make this happen are:
Connect business strategy and capabilities
While many companies are quite sophisticated when it comes to defining business strategy and investment planning, the people and capabilities implications often only come as an afterthought. In some cases, the need for this only becomes evident once skill gaps have already materialised as an obstacle while executing the strategy. Finding themselves behind on the capability curve may force a business unit into fire-fighting, or worse, downscaling their ambitions. This can be avoided. Your people strategy needs to support your business strategy, and skills are the currency – the ‘glue’ – that helps connect vision and future direction of a company and related strategic workforce planning.
Leverage innovative methods to fill the skills gap
In 2020, as the workforce moved to WFH, in a quick response to the situation, organisations designed & deployed virtual training to ensure employees & managers were able to work seamlessly by leveraging technology tools available to them and by instilling behaviours that promote productivity while working virtually. Employees had access to learning platforms to build skills wherever and whenever needed by using different delivery modes- even on mobile phones. Key Technical certification programs were transitioned to a virtual medium, leveraging online collaboration tools & virtual technical labs - in all, ensuring that new skill development was not hampered by WFH. Additionally, for areas of digital skilling- employees were provided with multi-channel learning paths - instructor led and self-directed digital learning based – giving credence to learner preference. Gamified simulations were developed to build Immersive learning experiences for leaders to discover and strengthen their leadership skills, make decisions, address challenges, learn from mistakes and receive in-time feedback.
Foster an environment where people can collaborate and build meaningful connections
Organisations should complement formal training with informal, collaborative, and engaging communities of practice that offer easy access to experts and knowledge sharing to build up skills quickly. Mentoring initiatives are the best example to nurture the continuous & community learning loop by leveraging internal expertise & experience.
Learning: Bite-sized and focused
According to Bersin by Deloitte’s infographic “Meet the Modern Learner,” employees today are distracted, overwhelmed, interrupted every five minutes by work applications and collaboration tools, and unlikely to watch a video that is longer than four minutes. With the number of distractions that vie for the modern learner’s attention, lengthy training will likely be ineffective.
We should leverage the power of microlearning by engaging employees in small chunks of learning that packs the necessary information into a short time span. Personalised playlists for a learner (employees) group can be curated comprising bite sized learning in the form of short videos, animations, and podcasts, which can be then assigned or proactively proposed and updated based on learner’s/employee’s interests, goals, learning styles or content preferences.
Empower people through coaching and continuous learning
It is time to look beyond the episodic/standalone training approach and adopt learning journeys that create a dynamic environment of ongoing feedback, coaching and learning. This approach empowers people to take charge of their development with confidence and identify new opportunities and areas to grow. Modular learning journeys provide flexibility to employees to choose their own learning path within a structured learning journey, ensuring that accountability for development is always with the learner.
Foster a culture of lifelong learning and shared responsibility
Workforce must also be empowered to prioritise learning among the competing responsibilities they have in a workday. There is a need to instil a knowledge-seeking mindset in employees as well as leaders to embrace reskilling opportunities; Leaders and line managers are encouraged to display behaviours that highlight the importance of learning, intellectual curiosity, and taking responsibility for one’s own development. Organisations are also offering education assistance policies that encourage lifelong learning by providing guidance and financial aid to employees.
Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work - Forbes
The last two years have seen a new term being coined- “employee fatigue” (as a result of the remote work and the endless number of hours put into virtual meetings to streamline work and work processes to ensure productivity).
Tech and HR-intensive organisations recognize the direct correlation of its human-capital-health and work-productivity equation. Increasingly companies have started to measure the health status of its employees as a viable component of their overall risk management strategy. Employee well-being programs are no more a “nice-to-have” HR initiative. An employee’s health status directly impacts his/her behaviour at work-> work attendance-> on-the-job performance and productivity. Consequently, a company’s employee care and well-being initiatives have a direct impact on its employees’ work performance and productivity.
As commonly perceived, employee engagement does not mean measuring employee happiness or employee satisfaction in pulse surveys. In crux, it is the emotional/psychological commitment the employee has to the organisation which keeps him/her assiduous and happy in the job. A recent study reveals that highly engaged workplaces see 41% lower absenteeism and are 21% more profitable.
Today, as we find ourselves amid an ever-evolving working environment; the need of the hour for organisations is to devise various approaches to keep not only employees but also their families engaged in after-office virtual activities. Companies have also offered allowances for employees to help manage COVID-related expenses; payouts to employees to invest in building ergonomic set-ups, better connectivity, aesthetics, or anything else that requires one to do one’s best work. Employee Assistance Programs have been rolled out which provide free & confidential mental health support as well as physical well-being services for employees.
As organisations work towards not only business continuity but emerging stronger from the crisis; efforts in skill transformations and employee care will lead to productive and profitable results for them.