Reskilling and Winning in the New Normal 0

Reskilling and Winning in the New Normal

If nothing else, the recent pandemic has taught us the importance of sharpening our skills and keep moving on. As we enter 2021, we will see a rise in the need to reskill and upskill the workforce to ready them to take on new roles and challenges. Let’s understand why reskilling will be the winning Mantra in this New Year.

Traditional learning and development methods are based on the textbooks, manuals, videos etc. and at present has evolved in the e-learning. Virtual Reality, however, is aimed at driving the behavioural change that will strengthen the connection of the brain to translate those learnings to the real-life events.

The outbreak of the unprecedented pandemic, COVID 19, hit the world with its mighty claws and made the globe to stand still. Not only did it affect the normal lifestyle and health of the communities across the globe, it also hit the industries and business that led them to undergo vast transitions and transformations in business operations, business models, customer relations, workflows and the organizational structure so that it can adapt to the new normal.

As companies embrace the new normal, there is an imbalance in talent supply and demand. Some jobs have become obsolete, and the demand for new skill sets is steadily increasing across different industries. For example, cloud computing, data science, machine learning, quantum computing, blockchain, healthcare professionals and software engineers are in demand.

Companies are being forced to find new ways to solve the puzzle of matching the current employees’ skill set to new emerging roles.

To streamline operational agility, it is important that top Management finds an ideal strategy that would work best for the company adapting to the new normal. Click To Tweet

Learning and Development is a major component of operational agility. Nonetheless, you must establish the right systems to help develop employees’ skills and knowledge to adapt seamlessly to changing needs. The employees must accept that they will be required to be educating themselves continuously.

Reskilling Vs. Upskilling Vs. Cross-functional Skilling Gaining More Importance as Learning and Development Strategy 

When it comes to rapid employee development, most companies are focusing on Hybrid approach of reskilling, upskilling and adopting a cross-functional training program to keep the employee’s skill set relevant to their organizational requirements.

Reskilling helps existing employees to shift to new roles or adjust to significant changes in their current job’s unique, changing requirements. Retraining them, the company engages employees and enables them to best leverage their experience and tactical knowledge.

Upskilling is tasked with providing training to the employees to enhance their performances in their new roles and upgrading their skills, so they qualify for positions that remain relevant. This strategy trains employees to take up on new responsibilities within their roles. For example, a senior employee may get a new responsibility of leading a team or function.

Cross-functional skilling trains employees wholly on the duties and responsibilities of different roles which are not exercised in the current Job. Cross-functional Training is majorly helping the employees to develop the skills and abilities on the job.

To streamline operational agility, it is important that top Management finds an ideal strategy that would work best for the company adapting to the new normal.

Retraining, Upskilling and Crossfunctional Skilling the present team is cost-effective. It also cushions the company from losing efficient and engaged employees. Further, it lowers the cost of hiring and training a new workforce. By cross-functional skilling, employees with experience and skills in different fields work together. It leads to innovation, creativity, better communication, conflict resolution, and teamwork. The experienced employees also act as mentors to their juniors for cost-effective skilling.

The Road Map to Upskilling and Reskilling Employees 

Upskilling and reskilling employees may not be a downhill task in most cases. Ideally, the focus would be to maximize the ROIs on each talent and evaluating their transferable skills. Identify the skills gap the business is facing. Use the findings to assess the employee who needs immediate reskilling. To avoid a slump in productivity, retrain employees who are in critical roles first. After filling this gap, there should be learning programs for long-term business objectives. Hence, retraining should be a long-term goal.

Also Read:  “Happiness at Work is Still Complex and Subjective”

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Check for Trends 

It is vital that the Learning and Development team identifies relevant industry trends and then examines how they impact the business model. Note down the areas that affect your business productivity, and then adjust those parts of your business model to survive the situation.

Single Out Relevant Skills

The focus of Upskilling and reskilling employees is on equipping the workforce with skills they currently don’t have but can learn to ensure continuity. Therefore, you’ll need to determine the skills and knowledge required for your business model to thrive. You’ll need to figure out if the new set of skills and knowledge are present in your organization. If not, you’ll need adjustments that may change the employees’ skill requirements, implying that they will require new knowledge and skills to maintain productivity in their jobs.

Modular Learning Programs

It is prudent to tailor your learning experiences to ensure that learners can efficiently hit their goals within the shortest time possible. For instance, if one employee is already knowledgeable in a specific field, it may not be wise to give them the same Training as another who doesn’t have the same skills.

Instead, you’ll need to tailor learning programs to suit each employee’s needs to save time and investments. You can achieve that by developing modular learning programs that consist of varied building blocks that can be joined to match individual needs. To ensure that the programs are effective, you will need to clearly understand the Learning progress for more precise insights on employee performance in practice. You can then use these insights to steer the skills development programs to relevant directions and adjust the learning programs as needed.

How Learning has Transformed Post-COVID

Organizations must find how to nurture digital, social and emotional adaptability, resilience and cognitive skills to succeed at the end of all this. Besides, there is a need for talent developers to focus on four primary areas;

  • Soft skills and cognitive skills for learners
  • Leadership and management skills to ensure better collaboration, self-expression, and management
  • Mental well-being and cognitive skills to adapt to and withstand such drastic changes and be able to design and innovate
  • Technology awareness so learners can be able to adapt to varying changes with lesser struggle

Learning & Development Functioning in the New Normal 

Disruptions that followed, the HR and learning professionals are tasked with readying for the new normal in workplaces. Even as we shift into a new phase with eased lockdown restrictions, a significant fraction of organizations will still have to deal with a mix of remote workers and those working from the office, social distancing and remote leaders, etc.

To ensure high performing L&D function that supports workers in the new normal, managers will have to come up with new ways of helping juniors learn from seniors and being able to conduct performance reviews without physically observing employees.

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The learning process and the choices available should focus on career growth and the individual needs and personalization.

Learning and Development team should identify the preferred mode of learning for each employee and then try to customize the learning module as per the individual requirement. If the employee perceives training options only focus on benefits to the company, it may not motivate employees.

The learning method selected should fit the purpose of the course to a learner. It should also suit the ability of a learner to navigate the training course.

Virtual Learning Models and App-based Social Learning 

One of the most common digital learning methods uses digital learning materials and videos. These resources are available to a learner at a self-paced speed. AI and ML driven platforms give more personalized and adaptive approach to training.

Two other learning methods are virtual classrooms and blended learning.

To make an employee empowered enough so that they can make any decision for the need of the company, and to allow them in their growth, the Training of the employees will need the usage of the data to analyze the learning trends that will be further communicated to draw attention and influence the learning journeys as well as the experience.

Learning and Development team should identify the preferred mode of learning for each employee and then try to customize the learning module as per the individual requirement. If the employee perceives training options only focus on benefits to the company, it may not motivate employees.

Also Read:  Work-life Balance in the New Normal

The most critical part of the whole process is to capture and document bite-sized, regular and long-term learning at various levels – teams, functions, projects, etc. the usage of mobile Learning through the various applications will make the process more userfriendly and easy.

Use of the Virtual Reality, Gamification, Simulationbased Learning

Mid-level employees are increasingly becoming quite critical with the advent of the remote working and the increased responsibility during the COVID era.

Artificial Intelligence is used with the aim of automating specific programs that were traditionally done by the human. Thus, the training on the virtual realities can become a differentiator of the organization offering a clearer employee experience and enable them in focusing more on their personal growth and paves the way of career development.

Traditional learning and development methods are based on the textbooks, manuals, videos etc. and at present has evolved in the e-learning. Virtual Reality, however, is aimed at driving the behavioural change that will strengthen the connection of the brain to translate those learnings to the real-life events. By means of the spatial design the brain can perceive the Virtual Reality environment to be indistinguishable from the Reality

In-house/Complimentary Learning 

In-house Learning eliminates unnecessary course material. It also emphasizes skills in demand in the workplace. For example, upskilling a manager can enhance their skills. The manager will gather appropriate learning materials and create study guides. An in-house expert can teach Tableau, Python Programming, cloud computing tutorials, Microsoft Excel, and data analysis.

Companies are increasing the credibility of In-house Learning through robust internal assessment and issuing professional certificates with the certificate number, grades obtained, hours spend and giving them badges through https://www.youracclaim.com/ or https://certifyid.com

Tie-ups with Education Technology Players, Academic Skill Training Institutes and Universities 

There are many resources for long-term Learning. For example, MOOC like, Coursera and edX offer courses in partnership with colleges and universities. Zerorated content industry experts offer skills alongside educational content from institutions.

Corporations and companies in a specific field provide training programs too. For example, Microsoft launched courses to provide in-demand digital skills. These courses have a path to certification upon completion of the Training.

You’ll need to tailor learning programs to suit each employee’s needs to save time and investments. You can achieve that by developing modular learning programs that consist of varied building blocks that can be joined to match individual needs.

Continuous, Ongoing and Flexible Training

Employee motivation ensures continued learning even after acquiring crucial skills. Flexible learning hours allow employees to gain new skills as they work. It also considers the fact that employees work from home. The skills acquired should be useful for a while so that employees can enrol in more courses.

Learning Analytics

Nothing like having good real time analytic-enabled Learning Management System, which will help to address the training operational challenges of nominating, tracking at a micro and macro level. Learning analytics analyze the time learners spend in each phase of the Training and assessments could be done seamlessly. The data also shows how learners interact with the materials provided. This learning data highlights the elements affecting or influencing the performance of learners. It also offers insights to improve learning methods.

Conclusion

Pandemic made some job roles obsolete; Companies have the option of retraining, separating them or start looking for fresh talent. Learning and Development team should focus on asking the right questions to discover and engage employees in their development process. Make coaching a part of every manager’s key result area. Organizations must not blindly reskill their employees to make them able to take more and more responsibilities. It should be strategic and align with the business requirement and focus on the transformation of employee’s skill set from “X” measure to “Y” measure.

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An SPHRi certified Human Resources Professional with rich and varied experience in various industries and HR functions. Currently, he is spearheading the Human Resources function of the Hyderabad delivery Centre of SG Analytics. An alumnus of IIMKozhikode, Vinay comes with 15 years of experience managing knowledge workforce, engineering/IT workforce and sales HR with PAN India exposure. He is a passionate and transformational leader who can manage HR projects from conceptualization to completion and build relationships with clients and across organizations and teams.

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