Editor's note: Watch our on-demand webinar, 'Skilling today: Unleash untapped talent in your workforce,' to learn the findings from our recent skilling report. A panel of industry experts shares their experiences with developing skilling initiatives and how they believe these efforts will evolve.
An important part of any company's responsibility to their employees is to help ensure they are continuously employable. As the world of work rapidly evolves, this becomes increasingly challenging. In the past, many employees joined organizations with the intention of staying with one employer for the majority – if not the entirety – of their careers. For most industries and roles, this is no longer the case and employees need to continuously upskill and reskill, with the support of their employers, to remain relevant in today’s job market.
Top organizations that have a strong commitment to creating superior employee experiences, retaining talent and increasing the number of internal hires understand the importance of encouraging employees to have an ‘always-learning’ mindset. However, many organizations that offer skilling initiatives face challenges with widespread adoption and overall effectiveness. In fact, our recent ‘Skilling Today’ survey found that of organizations that offered upskilling and reskilling in 2020, only nine percent of HR professionals are confident that employees can guide their own skilling journeys effectively. How does offering employees robust career development, upskilling and reskilling tools help your organization overcome barriers to skilling adoption and optimize your return on investment from skilling initiatives?
organizations and employees face an urgent need to prioritize skilling
In 2018, the World Economic Forum predicted that 42% of the in-demand skills across all industries would change between 2018 and 2022. Data from Gartner found that the number of skills required for a single job has increased 10% year-over-year since 2017. These numbers have likely only increased, given disruptions such as globalization, the rise of automation and the global pandemic.
As business needs rapidly change, organizations need their employees’ skills to evolve to keep pace with business demands. These organizations often want to fill more roles internally – doing so is more cost effective than turning to outside hires and it drives employee engagement – but find that their current employees don’t always have the right skills to fill these roles. Offering employees continuous skilling opportunities ensures that they have the necessary skills to drive positive business outcomes, contributes to long-term employability and drives employee retention. This is shown by the data from Randstad Sourceright’s 2021 Talent Trends report, which reveals that 87% of human capital and C-suite leaders believe reskilling their employees will strengthen retention.
barriers to widespread skilling adoption
Countless upskilling and reskilling resources are available to employees today. A lack of options is not the issue. A lack of guidance is. Many organizations offer their employees access to curated content, such as Degreed, or massive online open courses (MOOCs) such as Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. The recent Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn found that 73% of learning and development professionals expect to spend less on instructor-led training and 79% expect to increase their investment in online learning. However, employers often face challenges with online learning utilization and impact. In many cases, these organizations have invested in multi-year contracts and dedicated time and resources to launching these resources.
The root problem is that this shift from instructor-led training to online learning takes away a key piece of any successful learning journey – guidance. Employees see an extensive list of available courses and are unsure what they want to learn or what they need to learn to grow in their current roles or move on to other roles internally. In some instances, they may know what they want to learn, but may not be sure about the best approach or the best courses to take. Without knowing where to start or what to enter into the search bar of the tools they’ve been given, these tools are often underutilized by employees.
how to overcome skilling challenges and drive return on investment
Impactful career development tools can provide the missing link in most companies’ skilling programs to help employees who don’t understand what they what to learn or need to learn.
By partnering with the right talent mobility provider, you can give employees career development tools that empower them to discover and learn skills that align with their passions and your business needs. In addition to these tools, employees should be paired with career experts. RiseSmart’s skilling program, for example, includes a career coach, career concierge and certified learning advisor who help employees turn their career plan into a strategic skilling roadmap. This combination of technology and human guidance can boost motivation for employees to reskill and upskill. Companies that use this approach often see better adoption of their current skilling programs.
provide access to career exploration tools
Career development tools enable employees to work through their own career exploration and discovery, helping them decide what they want to focus on more and what doesn’t necessarily pique their interest. These tools also help employees form a vision of potential career journeys that align with your organization’s goals and in-demand skills in the broader job market.
Rather than being overwhelmed by available skilling options, employees can tap into data to make smart decisions about their skilling and career development pathways. For example, RiseSmart’s Occupation Explorer tool provides job market intelligence on roles, salary, market demand, job outlook, required skills and related occupations. Armed with this data, employees can be one step closer to selecting relevant skilling courses based on their career goals.
In addition to relevant market data, RiseSmart offers employees participating in career development and skilling initiatives a variety of tools to make these efforts as impactful as possible. Patented career development job search and match technology enable employees to be matched to relevant internal roles. Through RiseSmart’s career development platform, individuals can also prepare for a new internal role, gig or project by tapping into resources such as strength assessments, networking workshops and interview practice.
According to our recent ‘Skilling Today’ report, of the organizations that offered skilling in 2020, nearly all (98%) said employees either fully or partially used the skills they learned to benefit the business. Additionally, 57% of employees who participated in skilling said they completely put their new or refreshed skills to work in a meaningful way. By offering your employees the resources to not only learn relevant skill but also apply these skills – either in their current roles or by discovering new opportunities through career development – your organization can increase the effectiveness and ROI of your skilling initiatives.
offer personalized coaching
Even with access to relevant job market and skilling data, all employees can benefit from personalized 1:1 guidance provided by a career coach. Personalized coaching helps employees make sense of job market data and expand their perspectives about their career options. This can lead to the discovery of untapped skills or a focus on building new skills that employees weren’t previously aware of – which can help your business fill critical skills gaps.
Coaching also helps employees create a focused career development plan that is highly relevant and taps into their own personal motivation.
provide additional human guidance
Beyond coaching, some employees might require additional guidance to make the most of career development and skilling initiatives. When needed by employees, certified learning advisors and career concierges can help them translate their career plan into a learning plan – what we refer to as a strategic skilling roadmap – by recommending specific courses and experiential learning opportunities to leverage through skilling tools provided by the company. A learning advisor can help employees who have complex learning plans or need help staying on track with their plan.
collect employee feedback
A key way to achieve success with any employee initiative at your organization is to collect and act on employee feedback. Before launching a new career development or skilling initiative, consider sending employees a survey that asks questions related to their career goals, which skills they’re interested in learning and how they would prefer to build those skills. Once these programs are under way, continue to collect feedback to ensure your career development and skilling programs are contributing to employees’ career growth, as well as driving employee engagement and retention.
At RiseSmart, we recently rolled out a new career development and coaching program for our own employees. To kick it off, we distributed a survey to better understand employees’ career challenges and what they want to get out of the program. Collecting and acting on this data will help optimize the program, likely increasing adoption and effectiveness.
drive positive business results through skilling
Organizations that follow an impactful, guided skilling strategy can provide employees with clarity about their options and opportunities for the future. Each individual’s skilling roadmap can be broken down into a step-by-step process, with achievable milestones, which will help lower the barriers to widespread skilling adoption and make employees more likely to act. As a result, employees will be more likely to develop the skills to either excel in their current roles or move to new roles internally to meet changing business demands. And when the time comes for employees to leave the organization, they will have relevant skills that help them remain employable.
Encouraging widespread skilling adoption can also protect your organization from an unpredictable future, as employees will keep their skills fresh and current, enabling the company to remain agile and able to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing business environment. Additionally, companies can see a better ROI on investments made in current tools like curated learning content or MOOCs I because employees will be more likely to use them and apply the skills they learn in a meaningful way.