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Charles Butterworth

Access People

Managing Director - Access People

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How to design an effective skills strategy

Organisations are currently placing skills-driven strategies at the top of their business priorities, but how can you ensure that yours is right for you?

With the influx of people applying for jobs brought about by ‘The Great Resignation’, the employment landscape has shifted from business-centric to candidate-centric.

The double-edged sword nature of having a larger pool of candidates to hire from, but also a greater chance of losing current employees, means that an effective skills strategy has never been more important.

This is a viewpoint which is echoed across the business world, with nearly 60% of HR leaders advising that building critical skills and competencies will be their number one priority in 2022, according to a survey by Gartner.

For organisations looking to acclimatise to the new landscape and bolster their skills strategies, there are three clear steps in building a successful talent and skills strategy.

1. Strengthening operational skills for today’s workforce

Before an organisation even begins to think about future planning, it needs appropriate skills and knowledge to succeed today.

Today’s learners experience a range of challenges, especially with just one percent of a typical work-week available to fit in learning. Easy, productive learning strategies are crucial for the modern workforce’s needs, alongside smaller, bite-size learning to reinforce key elements of larger courses.

Shorter learning fits into the existing societal trends of quick, easy, and entertaining content, which can easily converge into people’s busy schedules.

Shorter learning fits into the existing societal trends of quick, easy, and entertaining content.

Whether on a daily commute, or in-between meetings, employees can easily view or interact with personalised and interactive learning options on any device. Removing barriers to learning will increase engagement levels and fill skills gaps within an organisation.

Finally, mobile-first, social, and collaborative learning methods can also help develop in-demand skills. Bringing more social elements to training programmes helps expose individuals to a greater number of colleagues, encouraging them to pick up knowledge and skills from a wider pool of people.

By enabling expertise sharing, colleagues are empowered to take more ownership over their learning, development, and career paths.

2. Attracting, developing, and nurturing talent

In today’s talent crisis, skills cannot go unused. Organisations must urgently consider the learning journey throughout the employee lifecycle, in order to assess how each step can be improved upon.

For instance, once talent has been attracted, organisations need a strong onboarding programme, which should consider all aspects of an employee’s role.

Too many onboarding programmes are limited to just introducing new recruits to processes and requirements, rather than getting them excited about their new responsibilities.

This is where the latest in learning technologies come into play – allowing organisations to offer employees the chance to ‘gamify’ their learning and interact with new colleagues across the organisation.

In today’s talent crisis, skills cannot go unused.

Of course, the focus should not be on developing new hires alone – attracting and onboarding new employees is only one piece of the bigger puzzle of talent management.

For example, there’s no need to hire costly new employees if the skills already exist in a company’s current talent pool, whether unused or merely underdeveloped. As such, organisations should also identify where existing employees have strengths and where there is room to support them in their development.

With this knowledge to hand, a business can determine whether a skills gap can be filled internally through training and development, or if new talent needs to be brought in. Building trust and cohesiveness to enhance a skills-led company culture will create a future-ready workforce who can prepare for any technological, social, and labour changes that will inevitably arise.

3. Empowering and retaining staff

In recent years, career mobility has been increasing alongside the need for new digital skills, with people of all ages looking to learn new things and explore new opportunities.

Finding ways to support staff in their personal and professional development provides a real competitive advantage and promotes a growth mindset that will attract new recruits to your organisation.

An organisations’ skills investments should focus on giving employees the option to explore and expand their horizons.

This can differ from person to person; some might just want to develop within their own area of expertise, allowing them to master their profession, whilst others may be interested in exploring entirely new avenues, well beyond the demands of their current role. Being prepared to provide support for both options will be vital.

Businesses and their employees should form a continuous relationship of learning and improvement.

Investing in people at this level helps employees become the best versions of themselves, unlocking their full potential by providing opportunities to explore their interests.

Establishing a continuous relationship of learning and improvement between businesses and their employees as a two-way partnership can help ensure employee longevity and mutual success.

Preparing for the skills of the future 

People are the lifeblood of any business. As such, ensuring that plans are aligned to business success, whilst also placing people front of mind, is a crucial balance to strike.

This is no easy feat, especially as the skills a workforce needs are constantly in flux. Developing a robust talent and skills strategy will place businesses on the path to success. In a vast sea of competing organisations, stick out with a personable, skills-driven people development strategy that is customised and intuitive to everyone in your business. 

Author Profile Picture
Charles Butterworth

Managing Director - Access People

Read more from Charles Butterworth

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