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Reskilling and Upskilling a Hybrid Workforce

As we emerge from the repercussions of the COVID-19 Pandemic, one thing is certain: the hybrid work model is here to stay. The last two years have been a tipping point for many organizations, accelerating change and forcing organizations to rethink solutions, systems, and work models already in place. Hybrid workforces have transformed the majority of organizations’ talent strategies, employee experiences, and management styles, while also adopting new technologies. This, in turn, has shown a spotlight on the ever-growing skills gaps present in today’s workforce.

By prioritizing and revamping this challenge, utilizing the rights tools and frameworks, organizations have a lot of opportunity to adapt to the hybrid model effectively. Increasing emphasis on investing in your employees through upskilling and reskilling efforts will ensure remote employees have access to the right learning and development opportunities compared to those working in an office. With the right learner engagement strategy and approach in place, a hybrid work model can help the workforce establish a work-life balance.

The Skills Gap Continues to Grow

According to Monster’s annual survey, by the end of 2020, one-third of U.S. employers said the skills gap has increased compared to 2019. At least 80% said they had difficulty filling open positions because of skills gaps. In the next phase of post-pandemic reorganization, it’s likely that even more jobs will be remote-first, and more tasks will be automated.

As the modern and hybrid workforces continue to encounter unparalleled change, the skills gaps are broadening across all industries. There are few options at organizations’ disposal for dealing with these gaps in vital skills and experience. In less competitive hiring markets, one appealing course of action would be to bring in new talent. However, today’s recruiting landscape is characterized by a declining supply of talent and an aggressive influx of demand from organizations; these conditions have thus forced many organizations to look within when determining how to address skills gaps.

McKinsey Digital’s research shows that in the next decade, increased demand for technological, social, and emotional skills will occur, while there will be a decline in roles that require physical, manual, or basic cognitive skills. Organizations must prioritize training their hybrid workforces in core competencies, such as strategy, social responsibility, digital and cognitive capabilities, creative thinking, adaptability, and resilience. Keeping a long-term focus will also enable business leaders and organizations to identify skills gaps and market opportunities early, leveraging proactive training to meet these needs.

Upskilling and Reskilling Mistakes to Avoid

As switching over to a hybrid workforce might have been easier for some than others, the same applies to incorporating an upskilling or reskilling training program. Below are some challenges you might face and how to avoid them.

Don’t misinterpret what skills are needed. More often than not, organizations focus on skills and knowledge employees need to learn instead of identifying what business goals they want to create and what behaviors are needed to get there. That is, companies place too much value on what goes into training instead of what they want to come out of it. Make sure that your organization utilizes a needs assessment or training analysis to consistently and effectively improve your L&D training programs.

Do not expect the technology to do all the work for you. Don’t over-invest in your tools in place of the people using them. Employee adoption of new tools can often create roadblocks. You’ll want to make sure that there’s a clear employee journey before onboarding new technologies throughout your organization, otherwise gaps in expectations between leadership and their teams could become an issue.

Budget for your best training solution. Although training expenditures have been steadily dropping for the past few years, leadership becomes cautious to spend on learning and development programs, as they can be costly to build and maintain, and manage. However, it is over three times more expensive to hire a new employee than to reskill or upskill an existing employee.

Upskilling and reskilling your team will take on a new approach that your organization is not used to. In a hybrid work environment, upskilling and reskilling can occur in person or virtually. How your workforce develops their skills is as important as what they learn. In a hybrid workforce, employees expect flexibility and proficiency in how they engage with learning and development. Training leaders know that the most effective learning happens in the flow of work.

How to Start Upskilling and Reskilling Your Hybrid Workforce

By creating a culture of continuous learning, with both short-term and long-term goals to upskill your employees, you will create a more agile, hybrid workforce that is the key to reacting effectively to the changing business environment and new market opportunities as they appear. Below you’ll find some suggestions on how and where to start upskilling and reskilling your hybrid employees.

  1. One of the most important steps is to identify the skills that your organizations need to be successful now and in the future. Start by mapping out skills that will drive value moving forward. As mentioned above, this can be done through a needs assessment or training analysis.
  2. Once the skill needs have been identified, consider what learning methods will work best for your hybrid teams and put together training plans to upskill and reskill those employees. Some training methods include:
    1. Formal training done in a classroom that typically ends with certifications.
    2. Informal learning that can be done during the workday and through colleague interaction and shadowing, or through blended learning and microlearning modules.
  3. Start now. Do not delay beginning a reskilling or upskilling training program. Hybrid workforces are here to stay, and organizations that start reskilling and upskilling now will be better equipped in the long run.
  4. Always focus on continuing learning and development for your employees. Successful upskilling and reskilling are not a one-and-done thing. As the workforce and industries evolve, not to mention the changing business landscape, skills will also continue to evolve, and your teams will need to adapt.

Upskilling and reskilling is emerging as a must-have for all employees and organizations. Time and space must be set aside for employees to feel valued and challenged. By devoting time to learning and development programs that focus on upskilling and reskilling, employees and organizations alike will benefit. Leverage both synchronous and asynchronous training models to deliver on-demand reskilling and upskilling experiences that add value to employees when and where they need it.

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