Embracing Change and Building a Resilient Workforce

August 27, 2020・5 mins read
Embracing Change and Building a Resilient Workforce

As businesses, both small and medium sized, continue to navigate the global pandemic, one thing is certain - the new normal has pushed companies to embrace change and become more agile.

The pandemic has made business leaders rethink their operations, their business strategy and the skills needed to meet the changing demands of their customers. To address the challenges that the change has brought, leaders will need to prepare their workforce with the skills and capabilities needed not only for today, but for the future. But where do you start?

Start with the Business Strategy

As businesses start to reopen, leaders will have to reconfigure business and operating models for a new reality.

Strategic considerations leadership teams should be thinking about to shape direction:

  • What are our organization’s strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities as we grow and evolve as an organization during a pandemic and beyond?
  • What do we do better than any other company?
  • What threats exist that may stall our ability to boost growth and pull ahead of rivals?
  • How should we redirect costs and allocate resources to address the changing needs and behaviors of our customers?
  • What trends are accelerating and how are we positioned to capitalize on them in the future?
  • Do we anticipate further changes in demand for our products/services?

Exercises such as Porter’s Five Forces and SWOT analysis (S-strengths, W-weaknesses, O-opportunities and T-threats) provide a useful framework to help leaders adapt their value propositions and business models to meet the changing needs of customers. As business goals and priorities evolve, so should your talent strategy.

Talent Reassessment

Once strategic priorities have been re-assessed and critical roles have been identified, employers will need to be prepared to assess the organization’s supply and demand to meet role requirements. This can be achieved by building success profiles that outline the competencies, skills, experiences and traits required of the roles you need filled and then measuring current or new candidates against them.

Talent assessment answers the following questions:

  • Do we have the talent we need now to fill critical roles?
  • Are there missing capabilities putting our organization at risk that need to be addressed immediately?
  • Are there net new roles we need to hire for to achieve our strategic objectives?
  • What adaptations will need to be made to allow for working on-site or remotely on either a temporary or indefinite basis.

Reskilling and Upskilling Workers

Given how rapidly the workplace is changing, and the extent to which employees value training opportunities, upskilling has become increasingly important to every business.

PwC has been developing and strengthening an innovative learning program called The Digital Accelerators to develop technology leaders to fulfill the talent needs of a rapidly changing digital economy, and Microsoft announced a reskilling effort to help 25 million people worldwide acquire the digital skills needed to fight COVID-19.

There is also a tremendous upside to investing in upskilling employees financially. According to PwC, for every $1 spent on upskilling, businesses typically earn or save $2.6.

Investing in upskilling opportunities can also be beneficial for employee morale. The effort to help people be their best and giving them the tools and ability to acquire new high demand skills shows employees they have a future at the organization – empowering them to make a greater impact.

Training and Development

Learning and development can be a powerful way to engage and empower your workforce. However, in a remote environment, organizations are having to find more creative ways to upskill and train their workforce when people can’t be together in the same room.

The following are a few considerations for navigating a different learning experiences to not only weather the current crisis but also build and accelerate workforce capabilities for the future.

  • Create custom learning paths based on employee strengths, interests and preferred learning modalities.
  • Develop coaching and mentoring programs that foster curiosity, boost competencies, self-investment, and quickly ramp up and develop new skills needed.
  • Use digital platform tools such as virtual breakout rooms, video cameras and interactive polls and chats to build engagement, collaboration and accountability among learners.
  • Encourage social learning through special interest peer groups or professional online forums that meet regularly to share knowledge, ideas and inspiration on topics relevant to the business.
  • Provide incentives for learners to take online courses or complete certification programs that cultivate high demand skills.

The Future is Now

Leaders must navigate unprecedented change and rethink strategic priorities as their business continues to grow. They need to anticipate the right skills needed, shifting from “what we need now” to “what roles and skills will be critical to our success and viability over the next two to three years?” Thinking ahead and planning to resource skills for future needs must be the new normal for business leaders in order to keep pace with change and to build a resilient organization that can weather the storm, now and in the future.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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