As the COVID-affected new world of work presents new challenges, opportunities, and innovations, ensuring your company has the right skills to succeed is a priority. Implementing new technologies is complex. It takes people who can design the right algorithms and interpret data. But your organization also needs people with so-called “softer” skills — who can do work that machines aren’t capable of.
What are the skills required for a smarter and more digital-savvy workforce? How can you assess and identify skill gaps? How do you create a culture of continual learning that’s crisis- and disruption-proof? How can you meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce through internal mobility? And most importantly, what do you need to be looking out for in the future?
In an exclusive virtual roundtable organized by People Matters in association with Degreed, industry leaders deliberated these questions and discussed how to prepare for the upcoming skill shift.
Here are a few highlights from that discussion.
HR needs to think and act like product managers
Kick-starting the discussion, keynote speaker Rahul Dhatariya, Assistant Vice President of Global HR Technology at TATA Communications, shared this:
- Learning has shifted from traditional models to online, yet bandwidth issues persist. Whichever digital platform your organization uses, it needs to be good enough for employees to source the right content.
- Organizations used to look at the digital and emotional quotient while hiring, but now the adaptive quotient plays a bigger role because every business is adjusting to change in real-time.
- UX has become an important part of any office application, especially now that people are used to using platforms like Amazon and Netflix,. which have a great UX.
- It’s important for organizations to consolidate everything for the employee and look at the employee experience point of view rather than simply focusing on the UI. HR needs to start behaving more like a product manager — to positively impact talent management, career development, and learning management — and to assess how their product is consumed. HR needs to learn from B2C systems to advance HR applications.
Skills For a Smarter and Digital-savvy Workforce
ForHR, adaptability is key. The digital quotient of the workforce is also crucial. Collaborating digitally (as opposed to physically) is more important than ever. And this includes understanding the background of a conversation while working remotely. So that means that translating the elements of non-verbal communication within the boundaries of a digital medium is an important skill now.
Another important skill is being comfortable with numbers in HR. This involves making use of data, analyzing trends, benchmarking where your organization stands, and then making informed decisions. Similarly, your company needs to be comfortable with using technology across all functions and even look at its learning systems from a data-driven point of view.
Another skill that organizations need to build in their employees is a lifelong learning mindset. Your organization can only push learning to a certain point. At some point, it needs to pull your people to its learning platforms.
Identifying Skill Gaps
Many organizations (such as Teleperformance) are assessing brick and mortar employees to understand how they’re adapting to remote work. Middle and supervisory managerial positions require similar attention.
For any assessment, it’s important to understand the role being observed. Some organizations (such as Aarti Industries) have specific competencies defined for various roles, and they assess them through their operation training module. With any assessment module, it’s good to get the buy-in of the people at the front.
Other organizations (such as Wipro) use a platform called Top Gear. At Wipro, 55,000 employees work on live projects for customers. The company encourages employees to work on the platform because it helps them learn and stay relevant, which is critical in the IT industry. The company has also moved its behavioral programs to bite-sized, e-learning modules and to virtual instructor-led training.
Creating a Culture of Continual Learning Through Internal Mobility
Airbus has what it calls a crowd-staffing community that facilitates connections between people and ideas. It also promotes mutual support across traditional business units. It’s not restricted to a particular geography, and it’s supported by the company’s leadership globally. Projects are run like an event, and anyone from any part of the Airbus world can apply for these projects. The receiving organization bears the cost of the applicant’s six months of participation. Employees who participate temporarily leave their current jobs and work wholly for the new project, which enables immense learning.
Using digital capabilities, every Airbus employee gets rated on their competencies, and all the crowd staffing jobs published are automatically linked to the competencies. Employees can see which jobs are interesting and match their competencies. They say that working with another department supports continual learning and enables internal mobility.
The same practice is endorsed by Roche Diabetes Care India through express development opportunities, by encouraging people to work outside their comfort zones on a virtual platform. This enables people to learn something new that’s not part of their current roles. A similar program is underway at Edelweiss, where leaders work in all departments. It makes upskilling through internal mobility an ingrained part of the company DNA rather than an intervention.
The future is not about skills alone. It’s also about developing a people-first mindset. And because learning is ultimately driven by individual workers, they need to be ready to upskill, own their own development, and move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. HR can provide the right platform for learning, but it also needs to encourage employees to own their learning.