PwC Annual Global CEO Survey found about 3 in 4 business leaders are concerned about lack of skills in their team which could hamper companies from growth. Addressing this issue, companies are starting to invest in employee upskilling. About 14 percent business leaders reported their upskilling programme has been very effective in creating a stronger corporate culture and engaging employees, while 38 percent were very confident about growth over the next 12 months. Only 20 percent of those who are just starting their upskilling journey agreed that upskilling matters.
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What skills to teach?
Defining exactly which skills an organisation will need in the future is a significant challenge for CEOs in the sectors predicted to be most disrupted by digital technology, including financial services and healthcare, where 16 percent of respondents named it as their biggest challenge. Given the changes forced on businesses by COVID-19, CEOs are seeing in real-time both the challenges and possibilities of moving to more digital and virtual models. The skills organisations need today (creativity, problem-solving, and understanding of how digital technology can be used) are a moving target.
Carol Stubbings, Joint Global Leader of PwC, advised that creating a culture of adaptability is important. People need to learn how to think, act and thrive in a digital world that is much less predictable than we once thought.
With the importance of upskilling in mind, the right strategies should be adopted. Leaders suggested that each organisation’s leaders should pay, motivate, and ensure that their development runs smoothly, thus employees won’t suffer from burnout between fulfilling job responsibility and upskilling responsibility. To ensure the best outcomes, here are some strategies business leaders should consider:
- Set a clear direction and lead from the front – Leaders need a strong and credible narrative that explains their strategy and future vision, including the objectives for investing in their upskilling programmes. And they need to be seen to be part of the upskilling journey themselves by walking the talk, such as getting involved in the development or training programme as a speaker or motivator.
- Identify the priority skills and skills gap – By seeking cultural and behavioural challenges, leaders could help organisations determine their most pressing skills gaps and mismatches, the populations of employees whose roles will become redundant and the key challenges to upskill their organisation. It’s an important move in building the case for change.
- Balance upskilling and reskilling – Upskilling will raise employees’ productivity as digital transformations progress, while reskilling will be necessary to allow people to operate in the new roles that are created by the COVID-19 crisis. For example, in financial services, there’s a reduced need for the people-facing role of a cashier, but people who perform that task can be trained to offer remote customer service.
- Build cultural foundations – Employees will only learn new skills if companies’ culture and upskilling programmes are aligned.
- Provide time, energy and motivation to learn – Providing for well-being creates trust and supports the hard work of learning. This is vitally important now as so many people are working from home, isolated from their usual daily routines.
- Track and measure results – Success can be measured in terms of financial results, customer satisfaction, employee retention and talent attraction. It can also be measured for its societal impact, for instance, the company will be seen as playing its part in preparing people to thrive in the future.
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