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Time for organisations to up-skill



Satyam Vyas, Founder- Arthan


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In order to do this, organisations must ask themselves what is the most efficient way to re-skill or up-skill employees without disturbing workplace productivity; and what are the most important skills of the future.

The accelerating pace of the coronavirus outbreak is drastically changing the nature of jobs. There is no sector that isn’t reeling due to the stress of COVID-19. This new and rapid change is overwhelming for both employers and employees alike. For organisations to sustain and eventually bloom in the upcoming new world, workforce development holds the key. Therefore, employers need to relook at their conventional learning and development programs and create opportunities to prepare and upskill employees to remain relevant, effective and reinvent themselves in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. 


For a long time now, many organisations world-over, and particularly in India, have battled change and have been slow to adapt to technological transformation. However, the current situation has forced all organisations to rapidly adapt to this new, digitally-ruled reality. In order to manage the crisis and emerge stronger, organisations are keenly seeking to hire digitally-agile workforce as well as digital-savvy senior management personnel. A recent survey conducted by Arthan on the ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Human Resources in the Social Impact Sector’ highlighted the need for organisations to learn the ability to adopt and weave the use of technology in all facets of their operations - from program management to performance mapping. And to be able to achieve this goal, organisations will require to hire candidates or upskill existing employees to be able to bring these new skills that will become the norm going forward.


In order to do this, organisations must ask themselves what is the most efficient way to reskill or upskill employees without disturbing workplace productivity; and what are the most important skills of the future.


Here are a few ideas that employers can follow to create organisations for the future.


1. Create a learning-centric work culture


Getting accustomed to the new ways of working involves a commitment to lifelong learning. Those at leadership positions should occupy the role of enablers and facilitators. Employers will need to focus on providing upskilling opportunities as it is one of the most important ways to overcome organisational stagnation. Understanding the skills that employees have through competency mapping can help organisations identify areas where capacity building is essential. A report on ‘recruitment, retention, and skills required during a crisis’ by Arthan found that nearly 30% of the organisations already have or are considering capacity building and training for their existing staff as well as new hires with utmost priority. Organisations must identify the key areas they would require to build strength in, and look for partners or courses that can help with the same.


2. Initiate Mentorship or Subject Matter Expert (SME) Program


In times as critical as these, organizations need to tap into their inherent strengths. Leveraging some of the best-performing employees and those at leadership positions to mentor or engage in SME programs will prove to be beneficial versus onboarding an external industry expert. Offering your top management an opportunity to advance their own leadership skills by taking the role of SMEs in training or by mentoring others would be an ideal win-win situation for all.


This way, both employees and experts get to hone their skills and gain real-world experience that can otherwise be difficult to pick up. On the basis of the outcome generated through this practice, organizations can evaluate and determine the need for external industry leaders and experts. The study conducted by Arthan also suggests that organisations need to focus on how current employees at all levels can be retained and re-trained as per the newly adopted approach as opposed to importing new talent, which is likely to be expensive and offer only temporary respite.


3. Consider Investing in Micro-learning


SMEs can also guide organisations with building eLearning content for web-based microlearning programs - another effective route to upskilling employees. These are short and quick web-based training modules that cover a subject in less than 5 to 10 minutes. In fact, a recent study conducted by Knowbly suggested that microlearning creates 50% more engagement and makes transfer of learning 17% more efficient. Furthermore, the same report also highlighted that every 8 out of 10 L&D professionals prefer microlearning because their users favour it.


For certain topics, like strengthening employees’ hold over a particular program such as using excel or CRM tools, training in quick bursts can be especially effective. Employees can enhance their skills at any hour of the day, in between work breaks or during the weekends, by picking the microlearning units that may benefit them.


Up-skilling and re-skilling are key, both from a lens of strengthening employee morale as well as increasing organisational efficiency and therefore reducing costs. There’s no better time than now to evaluate the gaps in your employees’ knowledge and provide them with the needed resources and time so that they can strengthen their learning and development paths. Investing time in upskilling employees is key to ensuring that organisations are prepared and positioned to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead