How Reskilling Your Workforce Helps Build a Future-Proof Team

This post was written by our friend, Elea Andrea Almazora. Elea is the SEO Content Optimization manager for RingCentral, the leader in global enterprise communication and collaboration solutions on the cloud. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in on-page optimization, editorial production, and digital publishing. She spends her free time learning new things.

If the pandemic of 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the only constant in life is change, and uncertainty is daunting. It has taught us the importance of staying agile in the face of changing technology and market disruptions. Having a skilled workforce can make your organization resilient to change and makes them ready to face any challenge. 

It’s imperative to reskill your workforce to keep up with changing technology and stay ahead of change. Employees who were once trained to use a platform like Twist or other video conferencing software before the pandemic hit might have found the remote working transition incredibly easy, while it was a challenge for others. It’s every organization’s responsibility to bridge potential gaps in employees’ skill sets and provide them the opportunities to acquire the right skills.

Your workers require new skills to be able to keep up with the advent of new technologies like artificial intelligence and automation, and equipping them with these skills means to make them ‘future-ready’. 

Organizations need to create a culture of continuous learning to be able to guard themselves from the digitalization revolution, especially since that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, remote work has made us accustomed to many software solutions that were not commonly used before. 

An adaptable and innovative workforce is the need of the hour, and with the demand for new competencies coupled with the evolving business environment, we need to rethink the role of learning and development in the workplace.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling means to learn new skills for a new position. It trains you for a different set of skills to be able to take on a different role within the company. And, it’s essential to reskill employees to prepare them for the uncertainty of the future. Reskilling makes employees better at their current roles and also for any future changes in their responsibilities

For example, customer service tools and technologies are making certain roles more and more complex. Training everyone in the customer service department to use such tools, even if it doesn’t match their present job description, will make life easier when the same tools become mandatory to use. Roles might change in the future and the changing technologies call for job descriptions to be re-written in light of all available technologies. 

Reskilling doesn’t have to be only technology based, it can also include training on critical thinking, task project management, and even problem solving. With the rise of machine learning and automation, as well as the importance of big data for all organizations, training in data science and digital literacy are also important. Develop in your employees a learning agility so reskilling can be done on the job and does not seem like a burden to carry in addition to the daily workload. 

Protect against market disruptions

Technology often makes many roles in an organization redundant. Reskilling your employees can make them feel like they have skills that can be used by the organization in another role. In fact, 81% of employees need assurance from employers in the form of on-the-job training. They are willing to adapt to new roles in the face of an ever changing business environment and they want to be trained for it. 

Identify the demand for soft and hard skills needed to be an agile worker and develop your employees to tackle future challenges. The opportunities that the new skills will define for them will make them resilient and immune to any future disruptors. Technology plays a major role in reskilling your workforce and you need to make them feel confident and empowered as they work with new tools

You also need employees who can bend and shift as the market changes. Not only by obtaining new skills but having a growth mindset that keeps them on their toes and ready to learn new skills, because they need them to remain competitive. Set up your organization for success by having employees who are an adaptable force to reckon with and have a wealth of knowledge, meaning they can instantly react to industry demands. 

Focus on transferable skills and skills that are portable and will help your employees in their current and in any future role.  For example, if they are trained to use a sales engagement platform in a sales and marketing role, it might be just as valuable if they move into product development or customer service.

Reskill rather than recruit

As you prepare your employees for the coming demands, you create a future forward mindset that makes employees focus on constantly updating their knowledge. Consider this an investment for your future. 

You need skilled employees and you need employees who understand the value of constantly improving themselves. The costs of reskilling are lower than the costs of letting go of employees and hiring new workers. 

Reskill current employees and invest in their future and yours, instead of hiring new employees. Focusing on the professional and personal growth of your workers is a symbiotic approach because you will naturally grow when they do. Your employees want you to provide opportunities to reskill them so they can move up faster, and it would be easier on your pocket to give them these opportunities as compared to the cost of hiring new talent.

Giving learning opportunities for reskilling your workforce can also increase your employee retention and helps you see the myriad of possibilities in the people you already have.

Transform the training approach

With the need to reskill, there is also a definite need to revamp the current training approach. 

Training needs to be much more fluid. Gone are the days when you booked your employees’ calendar for full-day leadership and enterprise ecommerce training. Training needs to be more flexible and this calls for employers to be empathetic of their workers’ workload. 

Instead, training programs need to be available at the employee’s convenience and be complementary to professional development as opposed to being a liability. For example, discuss training on work group chat and include your employees’ recommendations when designing and finalizing programs.

The following are some ways to improve how learning and development is approached in our organizations:

  1. Reevaluate the traditional approach to employee development and create training programs that are scalable. Creating such programs can help you save time and money.  Design training solutions that can be easily updated. They should be able to be deployed at the convenience of employees and thus should be available for small groups and larger groups alike.
  2. Consider microlearning which allows you to roll out training in smaller modules that are broken down into one task or one objective at a time.This ensures increased engagement and even completion rates.. Creating new training programs that are scalable can save time and money.
  3. Training needs to be delivered online. Creating e-learning is itself a way to adapt to changing circumstances and ensures that training will continue in the face of any market disruptions. E-learning and online training also allow for greater flexibility and employees can take them at their own convenience.
    Employees will not miss out on any training because of sick leave and at the end of the year can be accountable for all required training. Online training is easily available round the clock and employees can do it in groups or alone.

Ask employees for feedback related to all the reskilling opportunities. Data-driven feedback, as well as anecdotal feedback, is a great way to improve your training programs. Employees can tell you what they find is working to improve their skill set and what is not. The advantage of digital training programs is that they provide numerous options to track growth and outcomes for the trainees. 

 

Reskilling helps your employees improve their profiles and plays an important role in lateral and even vertical career transitions. Whether developing your service team’s strategic skillset or improving your sales team’s data analytics skills, identify the gaps in your employees’ skill set and put in learning goals to fill them. Simultaneously, design training to help fill in these gaps.  

Final thoughts

Organizations need to make learning and skills acquisition an ongoing process without an ending. There needs to be a continuous improvement mindset where workers constantly feel the need to reassess their skills and upgrade their capabilities in response to changes in the market and advances in technology. Organizations need to stay ahead of the curve on any skills that are shifting, for their sake as well as for their employees.  

While the onus to hone your skills to stay relevant and employable is on the workers, employers have a big role to play to reskill their workers to ensure their work profiles remain relevant to the changing business landscape. Organizations need to develop a learning culture where reskilling is mandatory to create a dynamic and strong workforce. Future-proof your business by investing in the most important asset you have: your people. 

 

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