EngagementCulture4 ways to upskill your workforce by activating awareness

4 ways to upskill your workforce by activating awareness

As organisations face record-topping vacancy numbers, HR leaders need to find new ways for employees to upskill. Activating awareness is a proven method of learning that offers employees and HR departments the tools for success.

4 ways to upskill your workforce by activating awareness

Recent surveys of UK workers reveal that between close to half and three-quarters of UK workers are considering moving to a new job within the next year. The Office of National Statistics recorded official vacancies in the UK across June-August 2021 topping 1 million, for the first time ever. Organisations desperate to fill vacancies are likely to have to consider candidates who will not have the perfect skill sets to match the jobs on offer – so HR departments need to find ways for employees to upskill, or learn a new skill, quickly.  

My recent work with global organisations as a learner experience architect at Insights Learning and Development has focused on this problem.  We have found that the concept of “activating awareness” has been the most impactful approach that organisations and employees can take to accelerate the acquisition of new skills in both new hires and retained employees.  

Activating awareness

So what do we mean by “activating awareness” and how can organisations incorporate this approach to successfully upskill their workforces rapidly?  

Awareness is sometimes thought of as a soft skill, or perhaps not even a skill at all. Research on brain physiology has shown that while our senses collect some 11 million bits of data per second, the human brain can only process (or be consciously aware of) less than 50 bits per second. In a learning environment, which 50 bits are selected at each moment in time can make a big difference in the efficiency of the experience. The concept of “activating awareness” turns awareness into a skill that individuals can access to positively impact their ability to quickly learn and demonstrate new skills and behaviours through focusing on what addresses their specific needs and objectives.  

Frequently, in an attempt to support effective and efficient skills development, the HR and L&D industries tend to focus on increasing the effectiveness of learning content and methods of delivery. Recently, the focus has been on designing learning that incorporates research-informed approaches such as spaced learning, social learning, micro-learning, learning journeys, gamification, 70-20-10 model, and learning in the flow of work.  

Equally, corporate learning is still primarily dominated by the “course.” When a person needs to learn a new skill, the most common organisationally driven response is to send them on a course. This is in contrast with the way that people tend to learn outside of the corporate world, which relies more on awareness of the specific need to guide a more targeted approach. 

Four areas of awareness for HR leaders to activate

Awareness is front and centre in how people are learning things today. Activating awareness for HR leaders is the difference between just pressing ‘start’ on an assigned training module compared with taking a moment to consider four things: 

  • Strengths – What is this person’s starting point? What do they already know about this skill? What related skills do they have that are transferable or will be useful in helping them gain the new skill? Where along the learning pathway should they begin? This alone can accelerate time to performance by not wasting time on unnecessary training.
  • Obstacles – What will be the biggest challenge for THIS employee in gaining the new skill? This could be related to the skill itself or a pre-requisite skill, OR could be related to the environment. Will they be able to take the time to prioritise learning this skill? Will they have a chance to practice and use this skill to reinforce the learning? Identify the most likely point of failure for this employee.
  • Resources – Identify how the employee will overcome the identified biggest challenge or possible point of failure. This is usually not immediately evident, but taking the time needed to identify the tools or resources or support necessary to overcome their personal obstacle before starting the skill journey is an enormous accelerator and confidence booster, and well worth the investment up front.
  • Mode – There are many effective ways to learn any skill. What is the best way for this employee to learn this skill? In designing learning pathways, multi-modal is the way to go. Offer well-designed documents, videos, case studies, practice opportunities, and access to an expert; and support employees to select the method(s) that work for them.   

Practical example

To put this in the context of a practical example, if a job requires the skill of coding using Python, rather than sending the employee on a standard ‘learn to use Python course’ consider what they already know (e.g. Java), what will be their biggest challenge (e.g. prioritizing this learning amidst their other responsibilities), how to overcome that challenge (e.g. incorporate the learning into the workflow), and how they learned this kind of skill in the past (e.g. working with a peer mentor).  The most efficient learning for this employee could therefore be to assign a work project similar to what they have done previously with Java, but that uses Python and provide a coach/mentor who will get them started and be an in-the-moment resource.  4 ways to upskill your workforce by activating awareness

This is an ideal, but for some organisations this is not yet scalable. However, finding ways to support employees to activate awareness can still have an impact, even if the employees must complete the same (untailored) training program. Any employee who starts a standard, one-size-fits-all course or learning program with awareness activated will gain more out of that experience than an employee who plows through without awareness. 

Suggestions for HR leaders to adopt to accelerate necessary upskilling  

  • Look for ways to activate awareness in your employees at the beginning of any upskilling program. Preference-based profiles and personality assessments such as Insights Discovery, along with skill audits and peer/manager feedback, can help activate awareness and identify personal strengths, gaps, and resources.
  • Encourage employees to take an active role in their upskilling. Rather than designing a one-size fits all approach, prepare a polysynchronous, hybrid approach to enable you to support employees if they request a non-standard approach to upskilling.
  • Build in awareness activators throughout upskilling to maximise impact; help each employee notice what they are learning along the way or when they overcome their biggest obstacle. Gamification, feedback and quizzing are useful tools here.
  • Find ways to build awareness as a global employee competency to have the broadest impact on upskilling and other training and development needs. If employees automatically activate their awareness at the outset of any skill acquisition process, the process will be more effective and efficient; and the impact is more scalable since it sits with the individual. 

While organisations today are certainly facing a challenge to upskill workers quickly, embedded within this challenge is an opportunity to increase both the efficiency and the effectiveness of all learning and development by starting with awareness. As HR departments activate their own awareness about what skills are necessary for organisational success and how best to develop these skills across the employee population, learners will benefit from the resulting increase in resources and experiences that will truly help them gain the skills they need to succeed.

 

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

2w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article
WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

Leadership Learnings WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid workplace

4m Amy Kirkham

WATCH: Connection and collaboration in a hybrid wo...

Alison Noon-Jones, VP of People & Culture at Leidos UK & Europe, shares how crucial employee engagement and participation is when shaping the people s...

View article
Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

Leadership Development Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your leadership

5m Terence Mauri

Turbulence ahead: Why it’s time to be bold in your...

HRD thought leader and Hack Future Lab founder Terence Mauri sets out why the biggest risk to leadership is not turbulence itself, but leading with ye...

View article

Dr Tanya Boyd is Learning Experience Architect at Insights– global leader in learning and development solutions. 


 

Comments are closed.

What's Hot

Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

Whitepaper | Talent Development Learning to win the talent war: how digital marketing can develop its people

2w

Learning to win the talent war: how digital market...

This report documents the findings of a Fireside chat held by ClickZ in the first quarter of 2022. It provides expert insight on how companies can ret...

View resource
HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging The Hybrid Workforce 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Strategies For Re-Engaging ...

We know hybrid working is here to stay, forcing many organisations to experiment with innovative and creative strategies from 4-day working weeks to u...

View event
HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What We Need to Reward, Engage and Retain 3 March 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Making it ‘Worth It’ – What...

We know the pandemic has caused many people to revaluate their careers and relationships with work and have been seeing the impact in global trends in...

View event
Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

Leadership Development Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simplify complexity?

4m Dave Ulrich

Dave Ulrich: How can business and HR leaders simpl...

HR thought leader Dave Ulrich outlines ways leaders can deal with complexity in an increasingly busy world, including how to think critically and turn...

View article
HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making

Roundtable Report HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Organisational Decision Making 5 May 2022

3w

HRD Roundtable Report: Using HR Data to Inform Org...

Historically, HR hasn’t been as effective as it could be in sharing and communicating data with wider teams. It’s paramount that we remove the self-in...

View event
Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

Digital HR Digital transformation investment grows but critical skills gaps remain - Coursera report

4m Leah Belsky

Digital transformation investment grows but critic...

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital learning on a global scale. Coursera's latest report provides an update on employee proficiency in a numb...

View article
Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

Employee Engagement Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successfully drive engagement

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

Wellbeing in the hybrid workplace: how to successf...

Remote working has impacted the way we communicate as a workforce, but striking the right balance between creating an engaged workforce and a successf...

View article
How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

Culture How to create a company culture capable of empowering the modern workforce

4m Alara Basul | Sponsored

How to create a company culture capable of empower...

While new working patterns that emerged from the pandemic have earned a permanent spot in the workplace, creating a purpose-driven culture based ...

View article