Articles 3 min read

Skills are the key to successfully navigating uncertainty

As AI and digital transformation redefine the skills required in today’s economy, organisations focused on hiring and developing talent with highly sought-after digital skills will undoubtedly build the most productive workforces and have the strongest ability to weather economic challenges.

The array of approaches that organisations take when faced with uncertainty has all been under scrutiny over recent years. Whether it’s redundancies or hiring freezers, innovating products or processes, the reactive approaches businesses take have huge impacts on the way that companies come out the other side.

Magnus Okuonghae (Manager, Interim HR & Exec Search at Annapurna) and Nick Timpson (Strategic Account Director at Eightfold) recently led a VIP roundtable which looked at the role of skills as a means to successfully navigate uncertainty.

The conversation brought together a selection of leaders and People champions, which produced the following key takeaways:

Skills are becoming the new currency

In a rapidly changing environment, skills (should) hold more value than traditional metrics, such as years of experience or degrees. What is needed for a role is fundamentally changing; skills & behaviour are where we should be aligning our focus. Therefore, organisations must pivot to identifying and developing the right skills in their workforce to allow their people to evolve as their roles evolve.

The question was asked, where do you start? Some technology relies on employees inputting their own skills, but how will they know what skills they have & even if they do, how do you use the data going forward? Technology can be an enabler for many elements of the problem, where can we start to understand what skills we have, what’s needed & how to upskill?  We still must educate our employees on the reasons why we are doing what we are doing as part of our change management journey.

We can educate our employees and take them on a journey but there has to be confidence in hiring teams to make skills-based assessments properly and there will be a need for tools to make different decisions.

Everyone is competing for the same pool of money that the business has, so we must try and put a monetary value on skills so that employees can differentiate their value in a better way.

Adaptability and continuous learning are crucial

The ability to adapt to change and acquire new skills is essential for successfully navigating uncertainty. In a world where the way that organisations operate is evolving and becoming more digital through their online presence, our employees need to understand digital habits to align with the changing needs of the customer experience. New technology comes out every week, not every year or a few months. We must utilise technology differently as we reskill our workforce, are the fundamental skills right? Organisations should foster a continuous learning culture and provide employees with opportunities to upskill and reskill. 

There will always be a battle to convince C-suites that there has to be a talent management framework that is always updating & developing people but the benefits will always outlay the negatives. 

Most people will change with exemplary leadership & teams working together. Forced change won’t work.

People are the competitive advantage

Employee engagement and talent management are vital. Organisations need to invest in talent management frameworks that prioritise ongoing development and provide opportunities for employees to contribute their skills and interests. Engaging employees and understanding their individual skills and aspirations is key to building a resilient and agile workforce. Fundamental, the view on work has shifted dramatically and organisations now need to understand that employees priorities have pivoted when it comes to work/life balance and people may have multiple jobs. 

Alongside the changing way of working, a lot of organisations have been impacted by macro factors, resulting in the need to reduce costs. The immediate impact was to cut people but in many circumstances, it was unscientific with regard to who stays & goes. Morale after layoffs has a major impact on the rest of the business, putting people on edge with the cost of people leaving lower, than the disengaged staying. When looking at the cost of attrition, downsizing & restructuring, there is a legitimate argument that organisations should have to look at reskilling as an alternative. 

Eightfold are the industry’s first Talent Intelligence Platform that transforms how you hire, retain and grow a diverse workforce, to look at whether one approach is better than another and how can organisations ensure they’re equipped to succeed.

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