Global Mobility Professionals Need to Focus on Person’s Skills than Job Abilities

Adam Smith’s concept of division of labor has been the typical organizational structure in workforces for the longest time. The usual set-up is that managers provide feedback, promote, and organize their teams around what is commonly known as “jobs.”

People organizers such as global mobility professionals and HR personnel have defined the concept of jobs with job descriptions, sets of responsibilities, organizational charts, appraising, and training.  

But business leaders have noticed that the stiff nature of the concept of jobs might not cope with the rapid changes that the business realm is experiencing. Fluid work has been evident in organizations and has been more profound since the pandemic hit the business world.

In a recent Deloitte study, 63% of business executives admit that work in their organizations is performed in teams outside of their job descriptions; 81% of them also mentioned that work is increasingly performed across functional boundaries. Moreover, 36% say work is increasingly being performed by workers outside their organizations that have no robustly defined jobs at all.

With the extremely variable nature that work demands nowadays, boxing all that people do for a “job” would mean that there are potential skills and competencies that are untapped. And on top of the employee attrition trend, when an organization is left with workers who don’t have a diverse skill set, the organization will have a difficult time operating optimally when employees have to adjust to a steep learning curve.

It’s high time for business leaders to make skills the fundamental building block that ushers them to make sound decisions about work and the workforce. 

A skill-based organization positions skills as the center of talent strategies. While steering organizations from people organizers’ principles of old to a more adaptable direction can be difficult, it will be worthwhile to innovate and adapt to a rapidly changing business world.

Interestingly, Deloitte discovered that though only 17% of HR and business executives across 10 countries reported that their organizations value skills and capabilities over degrees and experience, a rising trend is observed.

Businesses are now beginning to understand the importance of focusing on skills rather than jobs.

Deloitte highlights that a skill-based organization operates on these principles:

Free workers and work from the boundaries of a job

Instead of defining work in a functional hierarchy, a skill-based organization should be able to break work down and organize it in the form of projects and tasks that continuously change as business needs change as well.

There are organizations experimenting with fractionalization by letting workers take a portion of their time from their traditional tasks to take on projects anywhere in the organization they feel they have substantial skills to execute. Some organizations even have AI to suggest to workers a specific task that might be suitable to the skills and interests of the worker.

Others have resorted to tapping external workers for tasks that are unfulfilled by their existing workforce. However, Deloitte suggests broadening work and fractionalizing it to apply skills flexibly within the organization to achieve both team and organization-wide goals.

Develop the workforce of one

The shift from a one-to-one relationship between employees and jobs to a many-to-many relationship between work and skills helps organizations view their workforces as a composition of unique individuals with their own skill sets and capabilities that contribute to a wide range of work within the organization.

Deloitte discovered that organizations with this view are more likely to have better financial results and can adapt to change more quickly. The same organizations also had higher chances of retaining top performing employees.

Skills-based decision making

If skills become the heart of talent strategies, it will entail a huge shift for HR and global mobility staff in supporting the workforce. This will require people organizers to redefine the way we view work. 

One important task that needs to be redefined is hiring. The typical time when recruiters actively look for candidates is when a work need arises. The usual process is that they use job platforms’ algorithms to look for candidates based on their prior experience and educational background. In a skills-based approach, hiring managers have to first identify how to structure the work effectively, the skills needed to successfully perform the work, and who is best positioned to do the work.

Another thing people organizers are expected to do is skill-based workforce planning. Data around jobs won’t give much context if organizations want to remain agile. When organizations gather data on their workforce’s skills, they can get a better view of how they can develop adjacent skills to fill work gaps to help the organization run more smoothly. 

For most businesses, they don’t think that the concept of jobs won’t fade entirely in the future. Rather, many business leaders believe that work strategies will not only rely on the foundation of what jobs are but also take into consideration other approaches such as skills. It will take time for organizations to embrace these changes. But one thing is for sure, organizations now need to be agile.