The past few years have ushered in new realities for both employers and job seekers, such as remote work and shifts in high-demand skills. As both the COVID-19 pandemic and The Great Resignation rage on in 2022, it’s safe to say that the modern workplace will be fundamentally changed by this unique cultural moment. What’s more, technology will continue to become more and more deeply embedded in organizations of all kinds, making having the right technical skills absolutely essential to success at an individual and organizational level.
The workplace of the future will necessitate upskilling and reskilling efforts across industries and positions. New tech skills are at the center of changing workplaces. The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that, as the adoption of technology increases and as technology itself evolves, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. In order to ride the current wave of change and attrition, organizations should focus on implementing tech-focused learning and development (L&D) programs that will help their employees keep pace with the rapidly evolving technical skills landscape. Here are some practical tips to better prepare your organization for the future of work.
Begin Flexing the L&D Muscle
When strategizing on how to implement or bolster L&D programs within an organization, there can be a misconception that one-off, large-scale training workshops and conferences are the best way to help employees learn new skills. In my experience, that is not the case. While organized learning opportunities are certainly a crucial part of the L&D equation, I have long been fond of saying that skills development should be a daily learning practice.
Learning tech skills in particular can require persistent engagement in the form of microbehaviors for concepts and practices to set in. This is why employers should offer on-demand learning opportunities for their employees that give them the ability to upskill more frequently, at need and on a smaller and more continual scale. Online learning programs and software can be especially good for this type of learning because they allow employees to learn and upskill at their own pace and in the moment of need — without waiting for the next class, the next budget cycle or the next major initiative.
The key for both employers and employees is treating L&D like a muscle that you must continuously flex to keep strong. Upskilling and reskilling journeys take repetition, commitment and consistency. This may require allowing your employees dedicated time to upskill, and it will probably require an investment in L&D tools to encourage employee growth. So don’t think about this as bulking up for a major bodybuilding competition — think of this as daily cardio exercise designed to keep the heart fit at all times.
Customization is the Key to Success
The next way to ensure the success of your L&D program is to focus on customization. As employees increasingly demand flexibility and autonomy within the workplace, employers need to steer clear of “one-size-fits-all” solutions whenever possible.
Customization not only helps employees to learn in ways that suit them best, but it also helps maintain the business goals and outcomes that are specific to each role and each team. This is especially true within the tech skills space. For example, some roles may benefit from a broad curriculum that helps the learner obtain a high-level knowledge of many aspects of technology, while other roles require deep learning of a single subject to become an expert in that area. Recognizing that each role and each learner must follow their own upskilling paths will make for a stronger L&D program. Employees who feel that their skills are being developed are happier in their roles than those who feel that their employer does not care about their professional growth.
Recognize the Competitive Advantage of Tech Skills
Beyond employee retention and satisfaction, there is a compelling business case for an L&D program that prioritizes tech skills development. Technical skills development is unique from more generalized L&D programs because it is fueled by continuous and intentional learning, is personalized and scalable, and is aligned with business goals.
Research shows that companies that are “winning” in the new, pandemic-disrupted economy are the ones that are diving head-first into strengthening their technological capabilities. This is for a few reasons. First, investing in technical skills development helps your employees build faster and more innovative products. Another hallmark of the workplace of the future will be speed — from conception to shipping, products and services will strive to meet customer needs faster than ever before. Staying on the cutting edge of tech skills will allow your teams to deliver value fast. Further, encouraging daily learning across technology terms will ensure that the “learning muscle” of the organization is strong, meaning you’ll be ready to skill-up on skills that you don’t even have line of sight to today.
Secondly, a tech skills L&D program will help your organization close skills gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While an unprecedented switch to remote work in 2020 and beyond has accelerated digital transformation for many industries, it has also left many employees feeling less confident about their tech skills than ever before. Recognizing the need to help your employees bridge these skills gaps is vital for both organizational and personal success.
Finally, investing in tech skills empowers employees to execute toward key business goals. The truth is that the vast majority of employees want to learn new skills and competencies, but they often lack the institutional support to do so, or organizational direction on what skills are most needed. A customized tech skills L&D program that allows for daily learning is the key to success in the workplace of the future.