Navigating the new reality of HR with skills at the core

By and Ashish Gajbhiye | 4 minute read | January 24, 2022

Business leaders continue to witness multi-fold organizational challenges due to ongoing disruption in the ways of working and the accelerated digitization, automation and  shift to remote/hybrid work. These changes have highlighted the role of flexibility as a way to meet the growing individual and organizational demands and no matter where you look, emerging technologies, mobilization of complementary competencies, innovation, governance, growth, net promoter score, value creation, delivery and more are all being introduced, dynamically exposed and evaluated.

Moving into the new paradigm

Unparalleled changes are a new normal and the related disruptions are exposing blind spots. To remain relevant, leaders can help if they maintain an agile approach to the workforce and shape and empower their businesses towards a new reality. When global leaders are in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) state of dilemma it’s a perfect time to evaluate and determine effective areas of focus including:

  • Defining and improving employee lifecycle and considering employee personas via empathy mapping
  • Strategic workforce planning in the context of a gig economy
  • Adoption of analytics/automation like bots and workforce analytics
  • HR reinvention for new-age skills looking at skills frameworks for reskilling and upskilling and mapping talent to value
  • Digital change/transformation dashboard-enabling technologies and digital HR platforms

To enable leaders to prioritize effectively and create an agenda for reinvention, they must have a clear and transparent view of HR priorities and interventions vis-a-vie their organization’s capabilities.

Demand and supply, a contextual perspective

Post pandemic the demand for a skilled workface has become directly proportional to supply. The new-age skills to drive a sustainable business model have increased the needs. And, learning and development (L&D) has also moved upwards in the “must-have” category. This shift has forced leaders to acquire dynamic capabilities to innovate their business model because it is perceived as a key driver for competitive advantage.

Qualitative findings and comparative analysis for HR leaders and chief experience officers (CXOs) aim to build a future-ready workforce and a workplace to support the successful execution of the organization’s strategies. The needs of tomorrow’s organization should also include identifying and defining priorities for HR leaders to address the ongoing business-as-usual changes.

A contemporary lens for HR transformation

Comprehensive analysis of leading consulting organizations who examine HR priorities helps identify the top priorities of HR leaders. It also aims to segment HR topics based on current capabilities and their future importance.

Key trends and actions in the sense-and-respond model indicate the following as upcoming opportunities to be tapped:

  • Upskilling, reskilling and learning
  • Employee experience and engagement
  • Leadership behaviors and development
  • Workforce planning and adjustment
  • Organization restructuring and operating model
  • Talent management
  • Digital HR
  • HR Reinvention
  • Change management capabilities
  • Workforce/HR analytics.

Transparency drives accountability in planning and introducing interventions to eliminate possible barriers leading to rapid expansion in organizational capacity. As we step into the new ways of working, retaining employees and creating a leadership bench in a remote/hybrid workplace post-pandemic would be one of the critical challenges to be addressed.

Building critical skills and competencies

Skills are the new currency. 72% of outperformers recognize the importance of skills and continually invest in them. Yet only 41% of organizations report they have the talent required to execute their business strategy. Skills are, and will remain, the golden thread across the employee lifecycle.

As per the recent global survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, employee experience and skill are at the core in HR 3.0 as HR helps drive a company’s overall enterprise transformation. Skill at the core has a 69% level of importance to the future of HR and 38% level of achievement today.

Bridging the gap between future vs. present

Organizations are eager to build a future-ready workforce equipped with the skills and capabilities to meet tomorrow’s challenges. Reskilling in the post-pandemic era has emerged as the top challenge for business leaders. Bridging the gap between future and current skills is an opportunity available to create competitive edge.

Enterprise skilling for the future is an approach to build the right skills —at scale— with existing talent to meet the needs of business and to stay ahead of the market. A compelling future skilling journey as a tool to identify skills gaps and build a cross-functional team in hot skills with a quick and efficient learning path to support employees as owners of their careers, managers as talent builders and strategic planning for business unit leaders.

Building a job taxonomy framework and a skills library that can be extended to specific industries would help in the creation of:

  • Job descriptions and responsibilities
  • Core competencies and behavioral-based proficiency statements
  • Development goals
  • Coaching tips
  • Interview question

The call to action

It’s imperative to highlight that the involvement of leaders and employees is equally important in building the new-age organization. Reskilling the workforce through personally and professionally enhancing initiatives will remove the obstacles in meeting the unpredictable future challenges. And, it will not undermine the availability of critical skills for the organization. Businesses need to have the right people with the right skill sets and the HR agenda should focus on the key actions to reflect the new reality in the future and beyond.