In Reskilling, Blended Work-Learn Model is Next Challenge

Part 2 

Are we all not noticing the blending of work and life? It used to be that employees only needed to devote 9-to-5 to their job, but with people working remotely and at home, is the blurring work and life — and yes, even time — getting to you? Not only that, employees who are open to reskilling themselves for a pandemic world, find the same challenge that’s holding them back: Again, time — or lack of it.  

In a study by Mercer, almost all (87%) employees cited time constraints (38%), followed by a preference to spend spare time in other ways (35%) as barriers to reskilling programs.

Companies will need to face the fact that they will need to “budget” time for learning. This means global mobility professionals also need to adjust workloads and expand learning opportunities. This way, they can cover skills beyond those required in employees’ current jobs in the same manner that they allocate resources for business-critical activities.

In the study, Mercer cited how DBSBank allows employees the opportunity to take paid sabbaticals to develop their skills relevant to the organization. But in the current pandemic economy, are employers even willing to offer this now? Or will their fear of employees leaving them supersede reskilling initiatives, even if thriving employees are said to be four times more likely to say they work in cultures supportive of mid-career moves, and four times more likely to experience a culture of learning and growth?

Several companies are allocating employee-driven skill budgets and have dictated not what people learn—but just that they set aside time to learn. This aligns with the shift away from level-based training, especially for technical competences.

Self-select development opportunities

Bright careers are tied to access and opportunities, but they require an infrastructure that promotes an open job market and encouragement for people managers to look beyond their own balance sheet when career coaching.

One strategy paying dividends is democratizing access to internal gigs and cultivating an internal talent market that enables people to self-select development opportunities.

Yet for many, much work remains to be done, such as freeing people to take up opportunities (only 54% of employees say it’s easy to access internal gigs, and only 26% of companies offer short-term assignments), as well as changing mindsets around the value of lateral moves (ranked 19 out of 20 in importance in the eyes of employees). 

A resurgence of interesting globally managed workpools (agile teams, contingent platforms, active management of the top 10%) often has HR playing a pivotal role in talent deployment. 

As careers become more fluid, the opportunity for new experiences will be a measurement of a company’s commitment to its employees. In recognition of this dynamism, companies are increasing efforts to encourage new jobs at mid-career levels (40%), explicitly explaining lateral moves and rotations in career materials (36%), and making salary and bonus ranges visible to internal applicants to support internal mobility (34%). Employees are asking for these opportunities, but they’re not delivered at a level that makes them part of most people’s career experiences today. 

Demanding a different approach

Today’s generation is demanding a different approach to thinking about their careers. We can’t continue working with traditional career paths. We need to move to another approach more related to experiences.

This learning cannot be exclusively digital, however. Digitizing the learning experience and offering self-service career management has not worked for all. Why? Because human-to-human contact still matters, and different individuals want to learn in different ways.

Companies note a need to elevate their “learning through experience” game—particularly as 24% of employees said short courses or training don’t help them learn a new skill. Advice and coaching are key to helping employees navigate change, particularly given that one in five GenY (23%) and GenX(21%) employees say they don’t know where to go for learning or what they should learn.

Time to retire pay-for-performance? The pay-for-skills approach, to date, has been challenging to master due to lack of good information on both pay and skills: Just 21% of organizations are focusing on embedding pay-for-skills into their rewards systems in 2020, compared to 32% in 2019. 

Few companies understand how to define and pay for skills at scale today. However the move toward more variable rewards is priming early adopters for such approaches. For example, IBM asked managers to rigorously identify skills throughout the organization. 

The segmentation of skills today is strict: rewards are linked to those within-demand skills, while those with skills that are not needed do not get any increases. Identifying and rewarding the right technical skills allows the company to continuously innovate. 

Employees with obsolete skills are encouraged to either learn new hot skills—for which there are extensive training budgets—or move on.