The demands of work are putting pressure on HR teams to rethinkÂ training programs.
By Doug Stephen
âChoose a job you love, and you will never have to work aÂ day in your life.â This famous and often quoted statementÂ from Confucius had the right sentiment, but some wouldÂ argue that he forgot the finer points on just how to obtainÂ and retain that dream job.
Todayâs workforce is undergoing a tremendous amount ofÂ disruption. Technology is driving new skill requirementsÂ and even jobs, requiring both employees and theirÂ employers to take an active role in preparing forÂ immediate and future needs. Employees might be ableÂ to land the job they love, but will they be able to keep it?Â And how will HR be able to retain a workforce without aÂ robust education and upskilling offering?
New research from CGS examined a variety of employeeÂ preferences on training and development, including viewsÂ on the value of college, the confidence in current skill sets,Â and expectations for employer-led education. Here areÂ three key findings and what they mean for HR.
1. Transparency and education will be essential in helpingÂ employees embrace artificial intelligence (AI), augmentedÂ reality (AR), and automation. Television shows like âBlackÂ Mirrorâ might have some companies concerned aboutÂ how their employees will react to next-gen technologyÂ in the workplace. But the Netflix binge-watchingÂ sensation hasnât skewed most individualsâ understandingÂ and awareness of the more practicalâand realisticâimplications of the technology.
According to the survey, 61 percent of respondents saidÂ they are aware of or ready for AI, AR, and automation inÂ the workplace. And many are already reaping the benefits:Â Technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) areÂ helping employees offload back office, time-consumingÂ tasks, such as completing administrative forms and basicÂ reporting and measurement, to focus on more strategicÂ priorities.
The bigger issue that HR or learning and developmentÂ (L&D) teams need to tackle is communication around howÂ these new technologies are benefiting employeesânotÂ hurting them. L&D and HR teams should work together toÂ develop an effective communication strategy that focusesÂ on the benefits of AI, AR, and automation, and establishÂ how they will train employees to use these tools. InvitingÂ employees to be part of brainstorming sessions and earlyÂ discussions on new technology rollouts can also createÂ more trainers and ambassadors for the company.
2. Technology and reskilling can turn career anxiety intoÂ a major recruitment tool. If employees could use a timeÂ machine, an overwhelming majority would reconsiderÂ their college and career paths, with CGS reporting thatÂ nearly half would heavily factor in the ever-changingÂ skills required in todayâs world. Fifty percent of men andÂ 29 percent of women said they would consider the rapidÂ growth of automation and AI technology in their collegeÂ decision, a strong representation of how todayâs climate isÂ driving career concerns.
With this in mind, HR and L&D teams should provideÂ reskilling opportunities to allay some of these fears.Â Training can be a huge differentiator for recruiters,Â especially for millennial and Generation Z employeesÂ who are in the earlier stages of their careers. They wantÂ employers to invest in them and provide them withÂ continuous development and feedback.
Thatâs why companies such as Google consistently earnÂ spots on âbest places to workâ lists. With real-worldÂ training programs like Google University, where employeesÂ can take courses on the latest programming languagesÂ they need for additional IT certification, the company isÂ demonstrating that it prioritizes employee development.
And when that training can be consumed in small,Â digestible components, the impact on daily workÂ performance will not be hindered. Incorporating toolsÂ such as AR to provide knowledge at the point of needâlike how to mix chemical components safelyâcanÂ drastically improve employee satisfaction and knowledgeÂ retention.
3. Confident employees seek upskilling and vulnerableÂ ones wait for their employers. According to the surveyÂ findings, confidence is a key driver for individual careerÂ development. The 38 percent of workers who are the mostÂ confident in their level of job skills have one major thingÂ in commonâthey are also the ones that are most likely toÂ take the initiative to seek out training for new skills. ButÂ regardless of confidence, it shouldnât fall on the employeeÂ to seek out unique training opportunities. CompaniesÂ must prioritize training programs that institute a learning-to-learn culture and address the skill gaps across theirÂ workforce. But there must be buy-in from both parties.
For some organizations, this doesnât simply mean adjustingÂ the content of their training programsâit means adjustingÂ the format. Modern tools and devices, including tabletsÂ and smartphones, can provide workers with on-demandÂ training thatâs critical for employees who work remotelyÂ or have flexible schedules. Enhanced training formats,Â including AR, have also revolutionized how skills areÂ being taught where and when theyâre needed. If HR andÂ L&D teams take the time to assess their workforce andÂ understand what learning formats work for them, theÂ programs will be much more successful in the long run.
Regardless of workforce needs, one thing is evident: TheÂ age of AI, AR, and automation is not futuristicâit hasÂ arrived. Organizations need to effectively communicateÂ these changes and offer L&D programs to address themÂ and provide the skills their employees need to succeed inÂ the future.
Doug Stephen is president of the learning division of CGS.