There’s no question that automation and digitalization are disrupting the way businesses work. While automation creates great opportunities for data analysis and streamlined operations, it leaves many companies struggling to keep up. One of the most jarring ramifications of automation in the workplace are the skill gaps left in its wake—skill gaps within roles, departments, and entire businesses. Research suggest that the vast majority of employees will have to be retrained in the next five years, including management. This begs the question; how can companies cope with the inevitable changes they will face in the coming years? From and L&D perspective, there is plenty you and your organization can do to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.
Training to close skills gaps, also known as reskilling, is necessary for any business looking to stay competitive and grow. Reskilling focuses on providing resources to employees that allow them to develop soft and hard skills that will help them better perform in their role. This could be anything from problem solving to critical thinking to coding. When it comes to reskilling, it is most important to focus on developing your employees to maximize their effectiveness in their role.
The first step in creating an effective reskilling program is to understand what your company needs and what your employees currently know, can do, and want to do. Tackling the most pressing needs is the best way to start. Use data and metrics provided by management and HR, as opposed to going off a hunch, to target mission-critical areas and skills that will result in immediate ROI. Consider gathering employee feedback on their performance and where they feel they may need support to better perform and meet business needs.
We recommend starting with identifying high-value skills that are associated with high-value roles within your business. Are you finding that your sales and business development employees are struggling to stay on track or ahead of digital business trends and software? As these skills are critical to business success, they should be the main focus of your reskilling training program. We have a resource outlining how to conduct a successful training analysis, so check that out if you are not sure where to start.
A novel way to evaluate learner needs is to look at high-demand roles within your organization and how those roles were filled. Did the current employee move from within your organization to that role, and if so, did they move vertically or laterally? This can help you better understand where this employee developed their in-demand skillset and can lead to a more informed decision about what skills are most important. For example, if your project manager recently transferred from the marketing department and is thriving in their new role, why is that? What skills did they learn and build upon in the marketing department that lead them to be such a successful PM? Following these business moves and shifts may seem complex and confusing, but doing so can provide valuable information on skillsets and their development.
When deciding on what training to implement, keep in mind that you are developing skills for the present and the future. Reskilling takes time, so be patient yet persistent. What is most important is that you are showing your employees and clients that you value their education and are working to stay ahead of the curve and eliminate the inevitable skills gap. Training now means you won’t have to deal with inefficiency, emergency training, and discontent employees down the line. As technology continues to dominate the business world, it will be companies that devote time and resources to train their employees who attract top talent.