BY BRIANNA O’HARA
As professionals responsible for employee and organizational development, we’ve had the privilege of watching closely as changes sweep both the workforce and the workplace. While change is constant, the pace and dramatic effects of recent innovations are unprecedented. In the past decade, we’ve witnessed how technology has fundamentally changed job roles — automating or eliminating some positions, and creating new ones. We’re experiencing an unpredictable job market with unemployment being at a historic low, yet companies are still reporting high turnover and skills gaps across industry and function. Culture is certainly not the only factor playing into these increased employee turnover rates, but it is a large contributor. Unfortunately, this has a very real impact on an organization’s bottom line.
While workplace priorities change, the workforce, and the demographics thereof, are rapidly changing as well. As a generation, baby boomers sought stable work environments and typically devoted their career to a single company; while millennials have less tolerance for the status quo and no fear going from job to job until they land somewhere that satisfies their expectations. One of the reasons that millennials can demand pay raises after changing jobs is that simply finding someone to hire is a growing challenge.
A brand new study from BizLibrary also showed that regardless of industry, a skills gap was likely to be very large. The study, which surveyed more than 400 companies, found that 42% of employees in all organizations don’t have the communication skills they need to be fully productive and successful in their roles, meaning that nearly half the workforce is limited by their soft skills.
I want to emphasize that reskilling and upskilling your existing workforce is more important than it ever has been before.
Building a skills program doesn’t have to be difficult. As you plan your learning strategy, think about what skills and jobs within your organization are most likely to be affected by the skills gap, automation, succession or technology in general. Could current employees fill these roles with additional training?
Next, ask how long it will take before you are forced into change. Map out current skills and progressive skills that will be needed to maintain or grow these roles. What skills can you teach? And, when do you need to think outside your workforce? Once you’ve laid out the foundation for your skills program, focus on the content. I encourage you to seek an online learning partner to support you in this process.
Statistics, data and trends analysis all point to the fact that the role of learning and development as a key business strategy is expanding and becoming more important than ever.
— Brianna O’Hara is Content Manager at BizLibrary