There’s a new normal, and it requires bringing about a skill shift in employees faster. Why? The shelf life of skills drops more and more every day. ? So how can your organization create a culture of continual learning that’s crisis- and disruption-proof? How can it create a culture that promotes internal mobility? And most importantly, what should you be looking out for in the future?
In an exclusive, fourth virtual roundtable organized by People Matters in association with Degreed, industry leaders considered these questions and discussed how to prepare. (The third discussion in the series focused on how to engineer learning for workers, and how organizations can create positive short- and long-term outcomes.)
Make learning matter
Yes, 2020 did not turn out to be what was predicted. Instead, it brought fundamental changes in the way we live and work. To make learning matter, organizations scaled remote work while accelerating digital transformation and automation. Soft skills such as empathy, EI, adaptability, and resilience became more important. Most organizations have demonstrated that their employees can be resilient and provide seamless delivery irrespective of where they're working. With a lot of people working from home, self-motivation and self-direction are important.
Your organization can prepare for the skill shift by creating a culture of continuous learning as the shelf life of skills decreases. Indeed, research shows that 40% of the workforce will need reskilling within six months or less. It’s here that technology innovations and digital learning platforms can be used to unleash human potential and strengthen the culture of continuous learning.
Organizations can make learning matter by aligning learning with organizational priorities. Providing learning roadmaps can help to grow people’s skills. Organizations can also help learners by contextualizing learning using mentor and practitioner insights, providing opportunities to apply new skills, benchmarking skill levels, and encouraging community-based learning, which in turn strengthens the culture of learning.
Tech may come and go. Soft skills will remain
While the pandemic has accelerated the skill shift, it’s important to remember that a particular technology may come and go. But what will sustain your workforce is its soft skills To develop a smarter, digital-savvy workforce, your organization can be okay with being uncomfortable. This helps employees be continuous learners.
High tech and high-touch skills are particularly important. For high tech, people need to stay focused and motivated. For high touch, they need to be adaptable, work collaboratively, and co-exist with diverse cultures
Building a continuous learning culture
Three factors play a big role in building a continuous learning culture. The first is providing technology at an organizational level to help employees direct their own learning. Also, people need to be given opportunities to apply their new skills. Second, individuals benefit from support from leaders, and leaders can proactively remove barriers to learning. It’s important to encourage ideas from an innovation standpoint and allow people to make mistakes. This helps build a culture of experimentation and continuous learning.
Finally, and at the individual level, learning works when workers own their own development. Managers can offer support, and the organization can be an enabler, but the individual has to be in the driver’s seat. Individuals should be given the freedom to decide their own development goals.
At the same time, and in order to build a learning culture, it might help when your organization shifts from learning based on training needs to learning based on self needs. Instead of your organization setting the learning goals, individuals can pick their learning programs. To drive self-learning, your organizations can move from a prescriptive culture to a more guided culture.
Going a step further, your organizations can not only encourage the learning needed for your business but also challenge people to upskill in different technologies. This helps keep workers innovatively engaged, and it helps them develop skills that can help them grow across your organization. Encouraging aspirational learning can also help your organization drive internal mobility as well as succession planning.
In conclusion, as we prepare for the skill shift, the need of the hour is full stack individuals who have digital and soft skills. Your organization can prepare for the skill shift by developing them.