By Nor Izmawati Mostapar, Vice President, MII Corporate Communications and e-Learning
Imagine a crisis that forces organizations to change the way they work, almost overnight. That is where we are now. Both employers and employees across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and organizations must learn how to match employees to new roles and activities. This dynamic is not about remote working or automation and AI. It is about how leaders can reskill the workforce to deliver new business models through reskilled employees, post-pandemic.
It is safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic is a catalyst for the race towards reskilling. Many employers are looking at filling critical skill gaps fast, by reskilling existing staff to work in another part of the business, to keep business running. Therefore, it is important for us to understand where the need for reskilling is coming from, the importance of it, and how to go about it. As employees continuously react to the market and gain new skills, they become the malleable force that can adapt to any changes in the market.
Why are reskilling employees important?
In an ideal world, employers want employees to be able to wear multiple hats. This requires some reskilling and peer-to-peer coaching. Companies survive at times like these solely with a workforce that is flexible, agile, and ready to learn. Reskilling is defined as the development of additional skills to help employees move to new roles. Through reskilling, employees will have a greater wealth of knowledge and better prepared to react to industry and market demands.
During crucial times, organizations need to audit the talent that they already have within the organization. Organizations can maximise the ROI on each employee contributing to the business by analysing skills that are transferable. If the employer can identify roles that share similar skill sets, the employer can then identify how to reskill existing workforce to enable their flexibility for their growth and for business’ needs.
From the employees’ point of view, the chance to reskill is a valued opportunity to an essential step in remaining employable. It is the new work deal. As we witness and struggle in the economic aftermath of the pandemic, the employees’ own market value becomes their reason for sleepless nights. This prominent shift in employee outlook shows how employers and employees can leverage on each other’s quest for survival. Reskilling in an uncertain future will have to become the new work deal.
Time to get creative
1.Replicating Success Through Collaborative Learning
Collaborative learning is more important than ever now that we have less people. Collaborative learning environments enable upskilling and reskilling that is seamless and intuitive to learners by allowing peers to educate each other.
Skills-related experts should contribute and share learning and reference content to the right talent pool for reskilling. This type of collaborative efforts can be conducted through an organization’s learning management system or repository system, where communication can take place and learning materials are made accessible.
2. Become an eLearning Advocate
As face-to-face trainings become the least preferred option for continuous learning during a pandemic, eLearning is the only alternative that is safest to go for. Smartphones and tablets play a crucial role in eLearning on the job, especially for those working from home or working remotely. Targeted and bite-sized micro learning is most effective for faster results if employers want their staff to reskill albeit existing workload. However, a well-planned learning strategy and insights in learning science is crucial, to ensure all forms of learning satisfies the learning outcomes.
Understanding the needs of adult learners is key to rapid reskilling. One of the challenges with any reskilling programme is ensuring that the what and how is directly relevant to work. The goal is for the learner to retain what has been learnt and know how to apply it. To achieve this, corporate eLearning platforms, tools, apps or systems must be easily accessible, fuss-free and easy to use. Unlike children, adults have very little patience and not as explorative. Indeed, learning content for adults should be interesting enough to motivate them to complete the entire programme but it must also be time effective. To working adults, time is of the essence. If reskilling is needed fast, learning must be short, concise, relevant and applicable.
3. How organizations will rise again after COVID-19, thanks to reskilling
By reskilling the workforce with collaborative learning opportunities, easily accessible cross training, and eLearning, organizations can still achieve ambitious goals with lower headcount. The best organizations can do is start anticipating what may come and begin strategically planning the next move. HR and learning and development heads should take note of the current situation and consider reskilling as the most important project post crisis. Companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience.
Now is the time for companies to double down on their learning budgets and commit to reskilling. Companies that enforce reskilling will transform at a pace that leave their competitors behind.