July 31, 2023
Workforces need to evolve now more than ever. A report from the World Economic Forum claims that around a quarter of jobs will shift in the next five years. Its ‘Future of Jobs Report for 2023’ notes that though an estimated 69 million new jobs will be created, another 83 million will be eliminated. A few factors contributing to creating and eliminating jobs are macro trends—such as a rise in sustainability efforts among businesses, the localisation of supply chains, high inflation, and slower economic growth.
One way that employers can anticipate this change is by upskilling their workforce. In doing so, they prepare their employees to perform at their best. It can even help employees to fit into new or higher positions in the coming years, especially if their current roles become obsolete. This way, companies can maintain their current workforce as much as possible, even though changes are coming.
Having said that, here are the best practices for maintaining an agile workforce through upskilling:
Regularly assess employees’ skills
The first thing to do is determine what skills employees currently lack. This allows for a more streamlined and efficient upskilling process. Conduct a skills audit through one-on-one conversations with employees or release surveys asking what they want to learn or improve.
If employers aren’t sure where to start, Raconteur recommends doing a digital skills audit. Technological advancements are revolutionising the workplace: artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics are just some of the emerging technologies that employees should begin to master. Even everyday office programs like Microsoft Excel continue to release new formulas. Just this year, the spreadsheet editor revealed eight new formulas—including Vstack, Hstack, and textsplit—that can improve productivity and efficiency. With a digital skills audit, you can gauge your employees’ technological proficiencies and discern how best to prepare them to work in a rapidly-digitalising world.
Provide employees with upskilling resources
After knowing the skills employees need to learn, companies should provide them with the necessary resources to acquire them. These can range from online study guides to learning management systems (LMS).
Study guides are suitable for employees with an independent learning style. Using these, they can read and learn new information at their own pace. Studocu has over 20 million study resources made by students from over 21,000 institutions, including top universities like King’s College London and Lancaster University. Employees can access various topics on the platform, such as strategic management and data analytics, and test their understanding using guides with practice questions. Meanwhile, an LMS monitors and reports employees’ learning progress, which is perfect for those who need more guidance. Docebo is very user-friendly and supports different learning styles. It also offers instructor-led and virtual training sessions and the ability to measure the impact of employees’ learning on their work.
Utilise in-house mentoring programmes
Besides relying on external learning opportunities, companies should take advantage of in-house mentoring. This allows employees to learn skills and processes specifically beneficial to the company and their role. Moreover, they’ll better understand how they fit into your organisation’s structure and culture.
One great strategy you can try for your mentoring programme is to pair employees with their senior-level counterparts, who they can shadow and ask questions. This enables them to receive individual attention and feedback from an experienced professional whose role they may have to fill someday. Mentorships also create a supportive environment for successes and failures, giving employees credit where it’s due while allowing them to receive hands-on help to correct mistakes.
Don’t forget soft skills
While technical skills are essential in keeping an agile workforce, soft skills are just as essential. Honing employee capacities in communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking guarantees that they can continue to work productively and harmoniously within your organisation well into the future.
Such skills can be developed outside of the workplace through team-building sessions. For example, escape rooms can facilitate trust and communication within teams, while scavenger hunts build teamwork and critical thinking abilities. Laser tag or paintball can sharpen their skills in assigning tasks and recognising their teammates’ strengths. By including soft skills in your upskilling strategy, you’ll end up with more well-rounded employees.
Involve team leads in the upskilling process
Upskilling shouldn’t stop at teaching employees new skills. They should be continuously learning, even after they’ve completed a study guide or mentorship programme.
Getting team leaders and managers involved in the upskilling process helps maintain an agile workforce, as they can closely monitor their employees. From this vantage point, they can inform higher management about how employees are applying their new skills in their work, or if the company needs to improve its efforts in future upskilling programmes. They can also suggest when certain employees are ready for bigger projects or more challenging roles, which can further hone their skills. Upper management should set regular meetings with team leads with regard to upskilling and learning opportunities to ensure that employees are on the right track.
An agile workforce is essential to keep up with industry trends and demands. Fortunately, there are many ways that companies can upskill their employees to make sure they remain competent against work challenges and changes.
Kirsty Greene is a freelance writer whose pieces focus on business, employment, and sustainability