The unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic have set into motion a domino effect of events. Besides the overwhelming challenges to the healthcare system, the crisis has ballooned into other dimensions, including an economic downturn and even a humanitarian crisis in certain regions of the world.
Enterprises too, are not immune to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis, especially on the human resource front. With the work from home model rapidly becoming the new normal, dispersed workforce across widespread locations have given rise to new concerns that need to be addressed urgently. While there is limited clarity about a post-COVID world at present, enterprises that are able to recognize the prevalent gaps and take corrective measures effectively would be able to transform the disruption into an opportunity that would reap rich dividends in the long term.
Every crisis presents an opportunity to change, and COVID 19 is no different. Anti-fragile enterprises that welcome change and can adapt successfully would continue to thrive, even in an uncertain ecosystem.
Time is witness to the positive evolution of the human race. This has encompassed several key socioeconomic development metrics, namely reduced infant mortality, improved life expectancy and declining undernourishment. The statistics point to the positive transition in all of the above parameters. For example, infant mortality registered a sharp fall from 6.5% in 1990 to 2.9% in 2017. Along similar lines, undernourishment levels declined from 14.8% in 2000 to 10.8% in 2018. Life expectancy improved from a mere 46 years in 1950 to 73 years in 2017. Illiteracy levels showed a marked improvement from a dismal 87.95% in 1800 to 13.75% in 2016. These show that even in the face of adversity, the human spirit of resilience and incremental improvement have defeated crisis-like situations in the past.
It has been observed that accelerated digital adoption has been one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic. Across the board, organizations, irrespective of size, scale and scope have begun to realize the vast synergies that can be derived from a digital transformation. A study into the prominent technologies namely IoT, Big data, AI revealed that currently, a 3MM job gap exists in these domains, with demand for these solutions in excess of the supply of skilled talent available. This gap is expected to further widen to 7MM over the next seven years. Enterprises that leverage an effective L&D model, drive online collaboration, embrace an empathy-based ecosystem and ensure constant reskilling and upskilling of their talent pool would emerge as future leaders in their respective industry sectors.
It would be prudent for enterprises to document critical skills and develop effective role models within the system, especially for underrepresented minorities. This might result in the discovery of new skillsets and development of inbuilt aptitude. For example, military veterans could be encouraged to foray into digital marketing. Business analysts could transition into a career in business storytelling. Growth possibilities with reskilling are immense.
The key steps in the reskilling roadmap exercise through a wholistic organization collaborative approach with the active involvement of the leadership team as well as the working groups may broadly be categorized as follows:
1. Analysis of critical skills: A thorough and comprehensive review of the JDs, profiles, service offerings, strategies and various other attributes of the organization would serve to identify competencies and skills that are deemed critical.
2. Identification of digital imprints: Studying the digital trends and sector-specific digital adoption frameworks would help gauge the market position of the organization in comparison to its peers
3. Peer benchmarking: An in-depth competitive analysis to benchmark the digital performance of the enterprise across yardsticks like intent, competencies and adequate infrastructure would help identify gaps and take remedial measures
4. Segregation of roles and responsibilities: Every organization must follow a streamlined approach of identifying, segregating and prioritizing the digital capabilities across job clusters or specific individual roles.
5. Elimination of redundant roles: Doing away with redundant roles, based on a cost-benefit analysis, is an essential requirement to the forward digital journey, as a result of new additions and improvements.
6. Comprehensive reskilling strategy: Developing a foolproof, tangible reskilling model, both at the policy level as well as the execution framework, based on the skill gap analysis would help establish critical roles and implement a steep learning curve for the talent force.
7. Micro experimentation: Adoption of a prototype model or experimentation of the reskilling initiative towards specific job roles would assist in finetuning the findings based on the outcome and relevant feedback.
8. Upscaling mechanism: Application of the prototype results to a big scale project wither a specific department or the entire organization at one go would enable wide adoption of predefined high priority areas. There should also be adequate scope for further refinement as necessary on a case to case basis.
The way forward: Imbibing best practices in reskilling is the need of the hour
Integration of reskilling efforts across enterprises requires collaborative, well-coordinated efforts. This invariably involves transforming the internal ecosystem of the organization, understanding the external environment, elimination of functional silos and operating as a unified force. The mindset that reskilling is solely an HR responsibility needs to be shed. The future industry leaders would be defined by those organizations that invest considerably in developing the skillsets of their workforce. The onus of reskilling and upskilling the skill sets of the employees is ultimately aligned to the long-term digital transformation goal of every organization towards the establishment of a collective, noble act, i.e. building a more agile, antifragile world order that is able to effectively absorb shocks and disruptions of nature and kind like COVID-19.
Draup’s Talent Intelligence Platform is at the forefront of reskilling advisory for in-house workforce across the organization, irrespective of sector and functional verticals. Our extensive experience and deep-dive insights related to reskilling have translated into tangible, positive results for our clients, many of which include industry leaders.
Watch the full talk by Vijay Swaminathan here.