It’s the time for annual appraisals in most organizations, and many times post appraisal leaves organizations and employees with serious thoughts on the need to upskill or may even reskill the workforce.
With the advancement of technology and automation processes which have emerged in the HR domain, capturing the learning needs of individuals and teams, as a de-facto output of an appraisal process is prevalent in many organizations.
But the real challenge that organizations would be facing in this 4th Industrial revolutionary era driven by digital transformation is, how to manage this need for skilling (be that up-skilling or re-skilling) for:
- A distributed workforce spread across the length and breadth of the country
- A workforce which is a combination of baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z
- A workforce, which has diverse developmental/ skill needs
- A workforce to ensure that the organization is able to maintain and leverage its people capability as a competitive advantage
Hence challenges are diverse and each required HR partners and Business stakeholders to comprehensively design and execute developmental journeys which are more digitally aligned, more experiential and more connected towards addressing the real challenges on ground or with an intend to equip the teams/ employees to self-evolve and adapt to business situations which are always demanding with markets and economy mostly remaining volatile.
While Artificial Intelligence, Big-data, Robotics, Machine Learning, etc. are currently seen as the hot spots which are driving the technology era, the constant threat that people feel is the possibility of these technology advancements reaching to a capability level to disrupt the labour or workforce market, leading to large scale unemployment. The reality is an acceleration of innovation and the velocity of disruption are hard for anybody to comprehend and anticipate beyond a definitive timescale, and they always constitute an element of constant surprise even for the well informed and highly skilled. Today’s technology, business models, product offerings and to that extend customer expectations are redundant tomorrow and that’s the real pace of growth and transition our economy is going through.
This calls for individuals, employees, and organizations to constantly upskill or reskill themselves to be more prepared towards taking on an unanticipated challenge and a new innovation coming their way.
Mobile has emerged as the medium/ platform which consolidates major technology advancements, and hence an obvious choice for organizations to reach out and propagate their skilling efforts towards a largely distributed workforce. This medium also provides flexibility for the user/ learner to access content and learning events on the go and when in need.
Social Media has also emerged as yet another big platform helping the self-learning/skilling process, wherein everybody today has access to high-quality videos and digital content in various formats and topics of interest, available right at the fingertip. Organized learning platforms like Udacity, Lynda, Coursera etc also provide a huge repository of content which individuals can access to upgrade their knowledge and skill levels – both in the functional and soft skills domain.
Organizations are now in a journey to ensure a learning culture which is more powered by an employee’s urge to learn, rather than be seen as an organizations mandate to an employee. This calls for an engaging work and learning culture, wherein the demands/ expectations are to ensure that all combinations of workforce which exist (baby boomers, millennial, Gen Z etc) are equally and sufficiently catered to in terms of their up-skilling demands/ requirements. This warrants for adopting a blended learning approach in organizations, which evaluates various modes of learning and development, fine-tuning them to a learner’s adaptability, ability and preferred learning style.
With constant evolution of business models and with organizations adapting a matrix model of business operations, where one is expected to be multi-skilled and is expected to collaborate and leverage the strength of colleagues/ project partners, towards a common business/ work objective, equipping one's employees with cross-functional skills and expertise/ exposure is yet another need of the hour. Today there are no product specialists in organizations, as the same customer has multiple needs at various life stages and he expects a comprehensive and one-stop solution, thus expecting the employee to be multi-skilled and also be digitally savvy.
Organizations hence are focusing on building softer skills like influencing, collaboration, networking, etc. Inculcating evolved models of building leadership capabilities, attempting to address aspects like skills required to lead from behind, manage a large and distributed workforce, influencing without authority, etc. and re-skilling employees with the need of the hour styles of people management.
Hire and train models are fairly popular in the specific sector of Industries/ business lines, and the model has also self-evolved to the extent of hiring employees from totally unrelated domain/ industry/ background and re-skilling the employee from basics of business, meanwhile also being sensitive to the need to ensure job readiness from day 1, from a time to market perspective. Hence every sphere of employee development and skilling is ever evolving and is more driven by the reality of a VUCA world.
Last but not the least, whether that be upskilling or reskilling, it warrants for a continuous and sustained effort, and cannot be limited to an annual appraisal or a yearly need assessment exercise. The business context is ever evolving and changing and this requires organizations to constantly be sensitive and in the lookout for economical, scalable and sustainable efforts towards skill developmental efforts.
Today the onus of skilling and reskilling rest with the individual rather than be seen as an organization’s mandate, as the pace of obsolescence is catching up quickly and it will for sure override those who don’t constantly upskill/re-skill to remain relevant and current.