29 May 2020 18:03 IST

Planning a reskilling programme? Here are six questions for you

From where to start to how much to spend, give the process careful thought

Reskilling is the buzzword of the day, especially as companies move towards remote working models. Despite the sudden pressure on companies to change the way they have traditionally been operating, most companies have adopted remote working infrastructure quickly and effectively.

For example, a leading pharma company recently switched from a completely offline model to a 100 per cent remotely working one. And, just like this profitable business, several others are finding that remote working could be a long-term blueprint for their operations.

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, most companies are thinking about cutting costs and almost no one is looking at hiring. Reskilling is the process of teaching employees the latest skills that may allow them to keep up with the changing trends at the workplace and shoulder advanced job responsibilities.

Therefore, reskilling can promote employee retention, eliminate the cost of new hires and allow the companies to stick to the new blueprint for operations.

Here are six questions company leaders need to answer to ensure that their employees have the skills necessary for the business recovery models.

What are the essential skills necessary for your recovery business model?

Which are the employee groups and value drivers that will take your skill pool forward? You should identify the value drivers and determine the contribution of each role to value creation.

Leaders should identify the changes in the nature of the daily work of the employees. You need to find out which basic changes in skills, activities and behaviour are necessary to uphold the changing landscape of business operations. It is applicable in diverse scenarios including the shift from predominantly in-store sales and services to home deliveries and services.

What skills do you need for your new business model?

Upskilling is always a necessity to keep up with advancing technology. However, with budget cuts everywhere, fresh hiring could be limited, even for the larger corporations.

Teaching existing employees to use new software and adopt newer business models can help your business save more, yet profit more in the near future.

Company leaders need to invest in four key skills — digital, cognitive, emotional and social, resilience, and adaptability. All four areas of skill-building can be completely digitised, so employees can access regular training from their own homes using personal devices.

How to close critical skill gaps?

Leaders need to tailor journeys for every team and, if necessary, individual employee, to close critical skill gaps. Team leaders need foresight to not only determine which tasks the team will be undertaking the next year or so, but also the wisdom to identify the skillsets the team members need.

Currently, most business models are evolving rather rapidly to accommodate the changes necessary to serve their customers despite remote working conditions. Therefore, the team leaders needto enforce strategic planning for determining the key skills at the “right time.” These learning journeys should be well-guided, digital, and tailored for each employee. Supplements like live video sessions and social sharing can accelerate the learning process and enhance the best in-person learning experience.

How to start and test?

There are two outcomes. Either you will begin the reskilling programme and then find it much easier to address the skill gaps, or, you will find the reskilling programme to be unsuccessful, yet you and your team will be glad that you have been through the process.

Instead of worrying about when to begin and how to begin, just take the plunge. Even the companies that found their reskilling programmes to be unsuccessful stated that they are ready to take on skill gaps that appear in the future. Reskilling can simply help your company to become better prepared for any disruption in the future.

How to create a big impact?

The secret of creating a bigger impact is to act like a smaller company. Research shows that the reskilling tasks in smaller companies are often more successful than those at their larger counterparts.

Although larger businesses have more resources at their disposal, smaller businesses have greater flexibility. They have a greater risk appetite and far fewer levels of approval to seek as compared to larger businesses. Therefore, your best chance at reskilling is to behave like a small company (fewer than 1,000 employees). Locate your skill gaps, find the right candidates, and identify the right digital tools for the reskilling process.

What should determine the learning budget?

Employee training is crucial, especially when the lion’s share of corporations are thinking about adopting remote working as a part of the ‘new normal’. Therefore, curtailing learning budgets is not necessarily saving. It is simply delaying the investment.

The training budget should be your reskilling budget that can help your company adopt new operational blueprints. Use the budget to develop the resilience and efficiency that every company requires to strive eventually. Most importantly, utilise the ready-to-use digital learning journeys offered by third-party services and partners for effective and cost-efficient reskilling.

Reskilling is the only way to guide your company to eventual survival and success, especially during financially challenging times. As the business operations landscape changes rapidly, you need to think beyond halting on-boarding and budget-cuts on employee training. It’s time for leaders to chalk out a broad reskilling agenda that emphasises and enhances an employee’s overall performance and skills.

(The writer is MD & Co-founder, iXceed Solutions, a global tech-recruiter/ provider)