Articles 6 min read

What needs to happen today to power a future-ready workforce?

As organisations continue to transform to meet the tectonic shifts of the past two years, they are realising an urgent need to help their people develop new and different skills, improve their workforce readiness, and create significant changes to how work gets done.

The BTN was recently delighted to partner with Cornerstone, for an exclusive virtual roundtable event to discuss powering a future-ready workforce. The session was hosted by Mark Debono (Vice President UK, Ireland & Middle East at Cornerstone OnDemand), which explored how organisations need to rethink managing and growing their workforces to thrive in today’s modern work environment. The open and interactive conversation brought about the following takeaways: 

Companies need to start installing a digital culture that is scattered with curiosity

With skills fundamental to the growth and agility of the workforce, how can we assess skills, map the gap between current and needed skills, and activate these new skills by buying, borrowing or building? Today, big data analytics are leveraged by almost every sector. Data gives businesses a whole level of intelligence to outstrip the competition and continue to innovate. However, one of the challenges that can be found with data, is that there is no specific definition of what good looks like.

The role of the office is changing, meaning how the office is being managed is changing and therefore the industry is questioning what the skills are and what the gap is going to be. Many organisations, look at the analytics and create a live mechanism. This is where they constantly ask what the client wants and identify exactly how they are going to create a learning and development (L&D) machine. With an increased interest in learning management systems (LMS), companies need to ensure that they are in a place where they can be agile with skills and more calculated with not just the learning, but the way they attract people.

When talking about future skills, it can be seen that many organisations have low productivity. They need to become more laser-focused and understand what the buttons are that they can press that will fundamentally shape their company to make it cheaper, faster and more efficient. Companies must be able to build more sustainably and become more focused on critical skills. So how do you train your line managers to keep pace with the technical things taking place?

Within the digital world that we live in, gathering data is essential. It is important to ask yourselves whether your line managers know what data can benefit them on their journey and how they can upskill them. Future skills are as much about culture/mindset as they are about the actual key skills. Managers need to be clear on the business impact and why investment in these key skills will drive the business for the better. So what has changed and what do we mean by the future of change? It was mentioned that many organisations have stopped trying to find other ways and simply want a quick fix. Companies need to start instilling a culture of curiosity, this filters from the leadership right through to the people at the bottom line. Organisations must consider how they can drive curiosity and persuade people to become more curious about doing things again.

In addition to curiosity, it is also about how people’s learning preferences have changed during the pandemic. Curiosity is something you have to nurture. A lot of businesses post covid have been under a lot of pressure to generate revenue whilst landing cost savings. This is causing the behaviour to revert more to command and control and less to research and development (R&D) or innovation and growth based investments. A point was raised that “it’s not about giving them the whole library, it’s about what you create and how it’s bite-sized”. However, the difficulty is that you want other people to balance ideas, but it can be difficult to meet everyone’s needs. Despite this, there could be a risk to teaching the business and therefore you need to identify how you will measure what success will look like, as well as the impacts it could have on people.

The business journey has changed from transactional to transformational 

When it comes to igniting growth in your business and people, how do you ensure people and business objectives are aligned on a shared path to success? It’s all about the bottom line, quick decisions and commerciality. Organisations must be able to take stock, look at job roles and redefine where necessary and upskill. However, getting the senior leadership to dedicate time as well as giving the individuals “permission” to develop themselves is where the paradox lies. So how do you facilitate a culture of learning? A point was made that stated, “the journey has been changing from transactional to transformational”.

Organisations must be able to ask themselves what business value they provide to their clients and what value they get from L&D. Organisations need to ensure they are measuring the effects and effectiveness. The reaction to working is to buy, build and borrow. For some organisations, the building can be seen as the toughest out of all three elements. There was a worry among people to move from a traditional role to a more digital role, as well as people’s attitudes towards risk. You can give them the technical tools, but it was the willingness for people to work differently was challenging. The start-up vs scale-up vs enterprise debate and the cultural mix is so important from an employer brand perspective.

Organisations need to be changing what people’s ideas of L&D are. Many people leave organisations because they do not feel included, invested in, or stimulated mentally, and therefore leave. It would be good for organisations to take the approach to develop a culture that solves these problems. It moves the emphasis of training and learning, to ‘on the job’ and learning. For some leaders, they explain how organisations need to learn to build. If companies can create the culture and learn to help out, it will be extremely beneficial to both the individual and the organisation. It comes down to giving line managers the skills to have a good coaching workforce to reset the tone and get into role models. It is important to have those open conversations to upskill line managers to deal with those conversations and build relationships.

Creating a virtual network is key to making a positive impact 

When looking at creating purpose, engagement and community, organisations need to identify how they manage the great resignation and drive retention through a holistic approach that provides purpose and productivity. Organisations need to understand that employees will leave and that is ok, but as an organisation, we should be clear on how we showcase that we want to develop and grow their key skills and therefore believe in what they are doing. A good way to do this is to look at the 6 human needs; Certainty, Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution. Leaders could align their Learning strategy to these 6 key factors. So how do you make that workforce feel that sense of belonging? There is no right or wrong answer, it simply comes down to maturity and ensuring that you talk to as many people as you can and ensure you are not worried about losing people.

Another leader explained a similar challenge in which they are doing collaborative sessions to get all the branches onto the team. These collaborative sessions of creating this virtual network and everyone working together are key to making a positive impact. An alternative is to generate short poll surveys throughout the year with a focus on topics that fit with business priorities and use these insights to shape training.

A question was raised about what organisations can do to build community. A big part of the programme is to create that community, whether than be face to face, over virtual tools such as MS teams or key focal groups etc. The biggest feedback is being part of a community so they can talk to others and gather more ideas, which helps keep people motivated. So how do we create a sustainable workforce in moving forward? Digital is a key aspect of this. One organisation mentioned that they have a capability strategy that is focused on the leader’s mindset. This helps to ensure they have an understanding of what their commitments are, then take their teams on that and help them understand that.

It is, therefore, vital that organisations incorporate digitalisation in creating a sustainable workforce in moving forward and keeping an engaged workforce.

About Cornerstone

Cornerstone powers the future-ready workforce with adaptive HR solutions designed to unite technology, data and content and inspire a work environment of growth, agility and success for all. With an AI-powered, skills-forward, experiential system designed for the contemporary workforce, we help organisations modernise their learning and development experience, deliver the most relevant content from anywhere, accelerate talent and career mobility and establish skills as the universal language of growth and success across their business. Cornerstone serves over 6,000 customers and 75M users and is available in 180 countries and 50 languages.

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