Over 700 delegates and 40 speakers came together at People Matters L&D Conference 2022 and what we had in the end was a conference replete with learning, right-fit solutions and insights – well-thought out and actionable insights that can make the world of work better for everyone.
Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, chief marketing officer at Skillsoft, delivered a keynote speech at the People Matters L&D Conference 2022 and in between the discussions about geopolitical conflicts, economic instability, supply chain disruptions, spoke about sustainability.
Titled The Sustainable Workforce: Built For Disruption, Success & Growth, Boockoff-Bajdek’s talk was extremely relevant to what is happening in the industry today as employers grapple with reskilling and upskilling employees and employees seek much more than a paycheck in return for the hours of work put in.
“I want to talk about sustainability and specifically a sustainable workforce,” she told the audience.
“We are still facing a very uncertain future. We have gone through so much in the last few years. Two and a half years ago, no one would have predicted that we would be where we are today.
The global pandemic and the associated trauma that we have all felt, The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, worldwide calls for social justice, global inflation and recession - whether we feel them individually or not, these macro factors affect business and all parts of our lives,” she said.
“In face of massive disruptions, organisations have to stay nimble and competitive and to do that, they need to invest in the people,” she said, charting a way ahead.
Business = People
“90% of business is people. So, we have to make talent development and building a sustainable workforce a strategic imperative in our organisations,” Boockoff-Bajdek, who joined Skillsoft as Chief Marketing Officer in 2019, said.
To illustrate this, she shared a real-world and practical case study of Black Knight, which is a corporation based in the US and provides integrated technology, services, analytics and data to real estate, mortgage-lending and servicing industries.
Boockoff-Bajdek talked about Black Knights' focus on skilling their employees - programs for not only new hires but also an expert program for the rest of the staff.
“We asked thousands of IT professionals and decision makers around the world about their greatest challenges. A third said talent retention and another third said talent recruitment. These responses indicate that most organisations are struggling because their most important resource is not sustainable,” she said, adding that simply put organisations do not have the right people with the right skills to handle the current and future workload of their organisations.
She further spoke about how building a sustainable workforce is the only way to be ready for opportunities and challenges “and even disruption – anticipated or unanticipated”.
Why building a sustainable workforce is important
Boockoff-Bajdek also explained why creating and nurturing a sustainable workforce is so crucial.
“One of the main reasons is the skills gap, which is something that organisations all over the world are currently facing,” she said, adding that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit talent for the most in-demand skills – AI, cyber, data science etc.
“Technology is growing at a break-neck speed and we just cannot keep up,” she said.
After giving another real-world example on the importance of upskilling and reskilling for an organisation’s growth, Boockoff-Bajdek also spoke about how the pandemic has changed the employer-employee relationship forever.
During the latter half of her talk, she spoke about what it would potentially look like for an organisation and people to grow together?
“Employees want rewarding and profitable careers. They want to advance themselves. And by investing in the growth of their people, organisations can ensure that they have what they need – a happy, skilled, sustainable workforce that adapts and results in business growth.”
“Both parties have to hold up their end of the bargain and when they do there are mutually beneficial outcomes,” she said.
She finished by observing that in recent years the term “sustainable” has become ubiquitous, but it is not clearly defined, and so she offered an explanation that is relevant to the HR profession.
“The definition of sustainable is something that can be maintained at the same rate and that's why I believe it applies to our people – to building and nurturing a workforce that can meet today’s challenges head-on while also focusing on the promise of tomorrow,” she signed off.