Future Of Work: It’s Time To Prioritize Reskilling, Here’s Why

Future Of Work: It’s Time To Prioritize Reskilling, Here’s Why
Reskilling is a top business priority. However, it’s not enough for companies to say there are reskilling opportunities available for employees; if executives want employees to take reskilling seriously, they will need to create incentives.  
  • Reskilling is the biggest opportunity of the decade for companies and employees alike.  
  • 78% of employees are ready to start their reskilling efforts, but they lack the time to do so.  
  • Companies need to start incentivizing reskilling opportunities if they want to future-proof their business.  

Technology has always been a key part of future of work conversations. Technology is enabling the future of work; while concerns still remain about human jobs becoming obsolete in the future, the fact is that technology is also creating new job opportunities.  

The challenge, however, is finding talent that has the required skills to take on these new job opportunities.  

This is why reskilling is one of the biggest opportunities of the decade; an opportunity that companies need to prioritize.  

Mercer’s Global Talent Trends report argues that if companies do not prioritize reskilling they won’t have the talent to take advantage of the new jobs that are created. “Companies that unlock reskilling at speed and scale will transform at a pace that leaves their competitors behind.” 

Executives know this.  

Mercer found that “globally, reskilling is seen as the top talent activity most capable of delivering results in HR’s eyes.”  

For many companies, 2021 is the year for reskilling.  

The good news is that employees worldwide showed company executives last year that they can be agile and adapt to new work circumstances (thanks COVID).  

What’s more, employees indicate that they want reskilling opportunities, with 78% of employees in 2020 saying they were ready to reskill. So, what’s holding them back? 

Time.  

“Almost all employees (87%) experienced barriers to reskilling prior to COVID-19. And the most commonly cited challenge was time constraints.” With many stating that they prefer to use their spare time for other activities.  

Companies Need to Incentivize Reskilling 

Reskilling is a top business priority. However, it’s not enough for companies to say there are reskilling opportunities available for employees; if executives want employees to take reskilling seriously, they will need to create incentives.  

According to Mercer, 20% of companies plan to reward employee skill adoption in 2021. While this is a step in the right direction, “it remains a backward-looking solution. And there’s more that companies need to be doing. For example, workloads need to allow for employees to have time for learning.  

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“A number of companies are seeing a strong return from focusing on their culture of learning, over and above the learning curriculum.” This means that rather than reward those who fully learn a new skill, these companies reward those that carve out the time to learn a new skill in the first place.  

Beyond encouraging employees to carve out time to learn, companies need to make sure that they are providing different learning opportunities.  

“Learning cannot be exclusively digital.”  

Some people learn best in-person, others through play (gamification), others prefer advice or coaching opportunities.  

This is important, especially considering that one in five Gen Y and Gen X employees say they don’t know where to go for learning or what they should learn.  

How to Incentivize Learning? 

There are a few options.  

Mercer reports that 14% of companies are planning to implement pay-for-skills in 2021. The challenge here is to determine how much each skill is worth. Employees who learn new skills can be given higher bonuses or be promoted, which brings higher base salaries.  

Another great incentive is to be open and clear about new job opportunities, the skills that are required, and how much the new job will pay. “The key is giving people a sense of what is coming next and control over how to get there.” It’s important that companies create and share learning maps, so that employees know which skills are in high demand.  

Employees Are Ready and Eager to Learn 

By now, many employees are aware of the fact that learning a new skill is what will help them stay employable in the future.  

The good news is that 63% of employees say they trust their company to invest in their skills, and 55% trust their organization to teach them the new skills they will require should their job change or disappear.  

The bad news is that “there is a difference of opinion between employees and HR about what skills are relevant today and what will be in demand tomorrow.”  

It’s All about Culture 

“Making progress on reskilling requires the cultivation of a learning mindset at both the individual and organizational level. This requires a relook at goals and the setting aside of both time and financial investment for learning.” 

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