7 Ways To Boost Employee Development Amid Covid-19 Crisis – Forbes - Freelance Rack

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

7 Ways To Boost Employee Development Amid Covid-19 Crisis – Forbes

Training and development expenses have been severely cut off during Covid-19. Companies that can find better ways to develop their workforce, even with a low budget, will be the ones that get the most return in the long term.

In a survey conducted in 2019 by McKinsey, 60% of executives interviewed expected half of their employees to be retrained or upskilled in the next five years.

A Gallup study shows that Organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

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Still, the Covid-19 crisis pushed companies to increase pay cuts, voluntary retirement and layoffs. The consequences on the workforce have been devastating, reducing the long-term competitive edge of the companies. Employee morale has decreased, training and development costs have been cut off, and valuable knowledge has been lost. At the same time, many other companies are ramping up hiring to accommodate new skills needed.

As companies start recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, employee development must be part of the CFO and CHRO core agenda. Employee development doesn’t have to be expensive, actually provides a high return on investment as per the World Economic Forum report on the future of work.

Learning must be embedded in the corporate culture so that people can learn continuously and become more agile to adapt to changes.

These are some of the strategies that can be developed base on the company needs:

1)     Employee upskilling and reskilling

As per the World Economic Forum report, the most valuable skills in the future are not the technical skills but the soft ones: such as innovation, leadership and emotional intelligence. Companies need to find ways to continue upskilling ( learning new competencies to stay in the current role) and reskilling (learning new sets of competencies to transition to an entirely new role) their employees. Formats vary from face-to-face and online, to live and on-demand, and from free micro-learning to high paid formal studies.

2)     Team restructuring

In order to match costs and skills requirements, companies need to shift from a department structure to multidisciplinary teams that can be assembled and re-arranged based on different needs. Especially with the increase of remote work and freelance jobs, companies can have teams with members distributed in different countries.

3)     Leadership coaching

The leader’s role has changed significantly with Covid-19, as they had to learn to lead a suddenly distributed workforce. They have to provide not only technical but also emotional support to employees. They require then individualized coaching and advice on how to improve feedback and psychological safety. The technical burden can be reduced by applying AI tools such as augmented coding.

4)     Outsourcing Trainers

Companies in the US tend to have their own trainers. After this crisis, companies should explore having a more agile training and development structure. Hiring contractors is not only is more cost-efficient but can also provide flexibility by being on-demand and provide a bigger pool of experts on different topics. Some of the retired employees will also act as mentors or consultants.

5)     Peer-to-peer learning

While formal training is critical, companies have to develop also hands-on and experiential training activities on-site. If it is not possible due to social distancing,  they have to find out ways to promote peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and coaching in the new normal. Reverse mentoring, that is, Gen-Z’s and Millennials teaching Baby Boomers on technology, is also very much applied in companies to help bridge the gap between the different generations.

6)     Knowledge sharing

A significant effort needs to be done on improving knowledge sharing and lessons learned. When employees leave a company, valuable knowledge is lost; therefore, processes and, in the end, customer satisfaction is severely impacted. Companies have to develop methods to ensure best practices and lessons learned are shared and continuously updated.    

7)     New hires training

In the case the company cannot upskill and need to hire new talents, companies will need to find ways to improve their remote hiring, as well as the on-boarding processes. Many employees have been hired since Covid-19 started, and may have never shared any space with their coworkers. The training content has to include not only technical skills but also cultural aspects, such as values and expected behaviors.  

There is no perfect option; developing a blended learning approach is most effective. In the era of knowledge, employee skills are a competitive edge for any organization. Investing in training and development must be a critical decision for businesses to thrive in the new normal.



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