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What can we expect in talent and learning over the coming years?

Dan Tesnjak, VP of EMEA and APAC at Degreed, discusses how changes happening now will impact talent and learning leaders over the next few years and how they can prepare.

Organisations are transforming the way in which they operate, examples include moving their workforces to remote and, for some, changing their business model to fit demand (and in some cases supply). So how can our talent and learning strategies adapt to this new normal?

An opportunity

Set a vision for the coming years that includes how you operate, how you get ahead of the market, how you navigate uncertainty and how your talent can get you there. 14% of companies across all sectors increase growth and margins during challenging times - competitive divergence is often made during downturns when those with enough resources are able to make long-lasting strategic moves.

Engaging remote workers

The shift to remote work will be a lasting change with a quarter of workers expecting that they will continue to remote work for at least half their week once the current crisis passes. Organisations will need to relook at their workforce strategy and how they engage with workers that choose to work remotely to build trust, connection and ultimately keep them engaged and motivated. This goes beyond having a remote-friendly tech stack, to consider the processes, management and cultural changes that must occur.

Becoming more agile

As operations in some industries start to ramp-up - there needs to be a shift from an ‘hours worked’ mindset to a project and task completion one. Indeed, such a move will help with other future-proofing tactics like building a more responsive and agile workforce. Given the many unknowns on the horizon, having a workforce that can readily upscale and mobilise to market needs is a good move.

In many industries, we’re likely to see a shift from role-to-role based on the business’ needs and an individual’s career aspirations. Someone who previously worked front-of-house at a retailer may shift to a contact centre position as demand on each function changes. This kind of mobilisation works best when done in collaboration with each worker - by considering their skills, experience and career goals, and aligning these with opportunities.

Greater knowledge sharing

Cross-departmental knowledge sharing and collaboration is key. This can be built through on-the-job learning, secondments and ‘tours of service’ where people spend a short time working in different business functions.

A global industrial company used cross-departmental collaboration and mobilisation to become more innovative and responsive. It had sixty separate businesses within its organisation, each with duplicate processes that were adding complexity and siloing critical information, data and skills. Over a two-year period, the organisation transformed its workforce processes and operating model to facilitate greater collaboration and set-up cross-functional teams with co-owned KPIs and goals.

Within 18 months, the company went from heavy losses to become the market leader in its sector. Culturally, people are used to working collaboratively together and sharing knowledge of customers, prospects and different industries. They also regularly create and disband cross-unit teams based on demand and business needs.

Time to change

An on-demand workforce through upskilling and internal mobility will create better workforce agility. When a need arises, workers from all corners of the organisation can step-in to plug skills gaps or meet short-term demands through secondments, stretch assignments or redeployments.

Organisational talent and learning strategies are being put to the test. They must now react to our new reality.

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