The world of work has undergone enormous changes in both nature of work and the emergence of new forms of work, which result from innovation, development of new knowledge, increased competition, and other factors. Today, work life is characterised by complexity, unpredictability, and insecurity, in which a principal challenge is to remain current with changes and adapt to the evolving needs of organisations. This also means to be able to facilitate employee personal development to meet the challenge in the future, including personal development and employability skills.
To achieve development and skills that match the future of work, HR must invent new paths very differ from traditional career paths. The cornerstone of the traditional career path used to be employment, but tomorrow it will be capability, as this is the best guarantee of future personal development and employability.
Establishing a Big Data bank of capabilities is a massive project for HR. Many multinational firms have inconsistent and out-of-date capability benchmarks that are not interconnected. Appointing a specific person to be responsible for building this Big Data base, and who can also work collaboratively and flexibly with the various stakeholders to remain in close touch with community needs, is the key to the success.
Establishing capability pools across different divisions and countries within the same company is a huge job. The key is to establish these pools step by step, focusing first on scarce expertise, which will be increasingly in demand in the coming years (developers, security and cloud experts, etc.). The other big job is to feed these pools with external expertise, by including freelancers, partners, service providers, consultants, etc. whose capabilities and availability must also be kept up to date. To some extent, HR must be able to invent a sort of database to provide a reliable talent source of more normalized capabilities.
Lateral mobility across divisions, communities and countries is of course nothing new, but is often less developed. Greater mobility is nonetheless essential to the smooth flow of capabilities and best practices, as well as to all-important employability development. In other words, mobility is the best guarantee of never being unemployed. The challenge for HR is hence to explore new forms of mobility with company partners and start-ups, while offering people the chance to come back to the company afterwards. This new mobility will have to be made attractive by establishing real salary differences, integrating mobile staff into long-term plans, communicating on the success of highly mobile employees, etc.
It seems critical to establish mechanisms such as individualized mentoring or coaching for managers and experts. Feedback from senior or junior peers is extremely valuable and cannot be replaced by traditional training. Setting up effective peer programs takes serious investment to conduct pilot tests, make needed adjustments and foster buy-in by demonstrating the utility of these programs over time. “Reverse mentoring” in particular, is already commonly practiced in some companies.
It is also imperative to develop a full menu of on-demand online training options, available to all employees. This type of online training could be partly developed in-house, jointly built with communities, or acquired off the shelf from third-party providers.
Conduct historical and predictive data analysis
Throughout the careers of employees, while preserving the bond of trust with the employer, HR should conduct historical and predictive data analysis. This will help maximize efficiency, such a large-scale project which can be developed one process at a time, including recruiting, retention, crisis prevention, assessment management, staffing, etc. Clear rules for the use of employee data must be established, with HR as the custodians.