The Rapid Transformation of the Workplace Landscape
The landscape of work has seen a more drastic transformation in the past three years than in the preceding thirty, and this rapid pace is not slowing down. A combination of labor shortfalls, shifting employee demands (particularly from Generation Z), and the incorporation of revolutionary technologies have reshaped the job roles and the abilities required to fulfill them.
“The workplace is evolving,” asserts John Patterson, vice president of talent for Macy’s, Inc. “Key trends that will shape the future of work are generative AI and skills-based hiring, along with addressing employee concerns that have led to activism, creating an inclusive culture of belonging, and the future of hybrid work.”
The Rising Importance of Skills and the Role of HR Leaders
The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report suggests that 44 percent of worker skills will be disrupted within the next five years — with analytical skills, creative thinking, and technological literacy among those in the greatest demand. The WEF also predicts that six in ten employees will need additional skills training, but many will lack the necessary resources.
This is where HR leaders come into play, offering enhanced education and skills programs for their employees while focusing on abilities and competencies during hiring to build a robust talent pipeline.
Company Success: Prioritizing Skills over Degrees
“Skills have never mattered more,” says Matthew Daniel, senior principal for talent strategy at Guild. “When employers hire based on skills, rather than things like degree requirements, they create a more diverse and tailored talent pool, driven by insights — which is absolutely necessary to keep up with the pace of change.”
According to Daniel, companies flourish when they prioritize skills: ”When you focus on adding skills to your workforce, supporting them through their career development and building adaptability, you’re preparing your workforce and your business for change.”
The Restructuring of Organizations for a Skills-Oriented Future
A skill-oriented organization will likely differ from today’s standard corporation. Instead of having a rigid hierarchy, such an organization will function more like a revolving talent pool, assembling teams on a project-by-project basis according to the skills required. Companies might even finance programs that enable employees to gain the skills and competencies needed for business support.
“With a skills-based approach, I’m not looking for one person who can do 15 things,” says Dr. Dieter Veldsman, chief HR scientist at the Academy to Innovate HR. “I might want to find four people who can each do two or three things and put them all together.”
Realizing this vision will need an accurate assessment of each employee’s unique skills, along with identifying those needing upskilling as their work nature evolves. It might be necessary for many organizations to consider appointing a Chief Skills Officer to steer the change in culture, infrastructure, and essential processes.
The Infiltration of AI into Your Workforce
The sudden advent of generative AI applications like ChatGPT has potentially transitioned technology from a mere tool into a virtual team member. As stated in the WEF report, 42 percent of all business tasks will be automated by 2027, and up to 65 percent of information and data processing jobs.
Harnessing AI optimally will necessitate new skills. It will also require HR leaders and others to contemplate the suitable applications of this technology.
“A key human skill to develop will be, ‘How do I collaborate with AI around the outcomes pertaining to work?'” says Veldsman. “In the HR space, you need to start designing with AI as part of the workforce. Which tasks do you want AI to perform, and how does that complement the human contribution?”
For Humana, the $57 billion healthcare provider, upskilling and reskilling employees with the latest digital tools is a significant priority.
The company has partnered with Guild to offer more than 200 business-aligned training programs. Among the most popular offerings are certificates in business strategy, data analysis, and machine learning.
The Role of Continuous Learning and Upskilling
In this evolving landscape, the methods and locations of employee training are also changing. As per the WEF report, on-the-job training will account for 27 percent of how workers acquire new skills, outpacing internal training sessions (23 percent) or apprenticeships (16 percent).
Mike Morini, CEO of Workforce Software, observes that eight out of ten jobs are deskless. Therefore, new skills training should be accessible wherever employees are, on whichever device they prefer.
The Future: Navigating the Skill-Oriented Landscape
The emergence of skill-centric organizations aligns with ongoing workplace trends like agile work methodologies, multidisciplinary teams, and matrix management. As noted in the WEF report, fostering new skills will be vital for organizations aiming to thrive in the future.
This shift will require changes in corporate culture, managerial philosophies, support for improved education and upskilling programs, and evolving approaches to rewards and compensation.
Even amidst significant external and internal changes — to technology, demographics, work locations, employee expectations, corporate responsibilities, and more — sticking to traditional methods of talent acquisition and development could lead to lagging behind, Daniel warns. “The world of skills-based HR systems is intimidating, complicated, and not yet well integrated — but CHROS don’t have time to wait for perfection,” Daniel insists. “Companies that put skills-based workforce planning in place will have tested, connected, and invested in skills and be in a position to win.