HomeTalentTalent DevelopmentWhy the future of business is upskilling

Why the future of business is upskilling

  • 5 Min Read

Talking about training, and providing everyone with the opportunity to learn, needs to become second nature for businesses, Mercer’s latest research shows

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The world of work has changed dramatically over the last five years due to the impact of the pandemic and lightning-speed advances in technology, digital transformation, and automation. Organisations are slowly recognising skills are the currency of the future that are going to drive employability.

Many businesses need to be on the constant lookout for talent that can adapt to the rapidly changing skill demands, while also anticipating and planning for upskilling their current staff.

The shift to becoming a skills-based organisation brings with it challenges, however, there are actions that CEOs can take to ensure their own and employees’ sustainability.

Businesses need to understand what skills are most critical for their organisation now and in the future. They need to create a language and culture where talking about training becomes second nature. Reskilling needs to move away from being a service just offered by the HR team and come into the wider business arena to be part of the weekly workflow.

Mercer’s latest Global Talent Trends research report from consulting firm Mercer UK, collated the voices of over 11,000 CEOs, HR executives and employees and highlighted what both businesses and staff want from their work experience. The research demonstrated that staff want to work for a relatable organisation that allow them to work in partnership with the management team; for organisations to respect and support all areas of employee wellbeing; for businesses to encourage staff to commit to upskilling and to have a culture that enables people to thrive.

Mercer’s research also suggests employees need, and want, to take ownership of their careers. “Employability doesn’t mean you have to stay in the same job in the same business for your whole career,” explained Paul Habgood, workforce transformation partner at Mercer.

“You can have the ability for many different jobs and careers within one business. People don’t need to leave an organisation to do something new. Whatever you’re developing it’s because there is a requirement for it which you’re backing up with data.”

Now in its 7th Year, the survey revealed CEOs are more concerned about the wellbeing of employees than pre-pandemic and are eager to plug the skills gaps the world of work is facing. Responses from HR departments showed concern about the need for providing ongoing training.

“91% of employees are trying to learn new skills, while 98% of HRs say they have significant skills gaps in their organisations so you can see the demand for offering and learning skills is coming to the forefront,” said Habgood.

The need for growing employees’ skills

Attraction and retention of employees are always high on the agenda of any organisation, and never more so since the shift to remote or homeworking and the influx of digital and agile working.

Before launching a large recruitment drive to find the next ‘employee of the week’ Maura Jarvis, UK lead transformation at Mercer suggested that businesses need to look at whether their current teams are assets and examine how they fared during the pandemic. The chances are they showed resilience and loyalty.

“Following the pandemic, the people in your organisation right now are those who have shown grit and they know your business. These are the people you want to invest in vs people you’re yet to find, and who have got to learn it all,” she said.

It is important for organisations to note that the survey showed members of the older workforce are eager to learn new skills and they can remain part of your talent pool for longer.

“The way we reskill has had to change. Businesses need to put that responsibility into the hands of the employees. It’s now very much around a talent-driven approach so they can feel they’re in control of their destiny,” she continued.

Organisations can often find even looking at transformation daunting. Breaking the upskilling and reskilling journey into and running a pilot scheme in an area that they are struggling to keep talent in and that is critical to the business, can make a big difference. As does involving all areas of the business to figure out talent processes, thinking where they are today, where they need to get to and what the gap-closing exercise looks like. HR and management teams need to jointly examine their priorities and look at where they want to get to.

The pace of change in the corporate landscape has never been this rapid and will only continue to get faster. “It’s not a one-off I’m going to reskill, it is a perpetual reinvention of skills that you need to have throughout your career,” Habgood said.

“We need to change that mindset amongst leadership teams so they can speak to employees and say this is what it’s going to take to be successful in the global market and with us.”

To find out more on how Mercer can help your HR function, register for this latest event here.

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