Experiencing two years of the pandemic has triggered many internal conversations among business leaders about how the way we work will change in the longer term. What have we learnt from the past two years? What can we improve?
How do we remain competitive, innovative, and resilient in a highly competitive and volatile business environment? In our conversations with customers, people are central to these discussions and many leaders are considering what they must do to address challenges around talent retention and attraction, not only to conquer immediate issues such as digital skills shortages, but also to make a real-world impact in the long term.
In 2022, we think there will be real focus on employee skills and career growth. Our new insight paper “Reduce employee attrition by focusing on individual career pathways” explores the challenges that employers are currently facing, and how opening up opportunities for individual career growth can have a highly positive impact.
Drawing on insights from the paper, this post will explore five employee skills and career growth trends we can expect to see in 2022.
- Organizations ramp up employee experience to meet the talent crisis
There has been much written about the current surge in employees voluntarily leaving their roles, labelled as the great “resignation” or “attrition” by the media. In late 2021, in the US alone there was an increase of almost 800K people voluntarily leaving their roles compared to the previous year. Some commentators have argued that this trend is as much about a great “attraction” as it about “attrition”. In 2022, organizations need to focus on attracting employees by being a great place to work and providing a strong employee experience.
Improving employee experience involves taking a more holistic, connected, and consistent approach to all the touchpoints an individual has with their employer. While employee experience has been growing on the HR agenda for a while, it has become even more prominent recently; research suggests that 92% of organizations are now prioritizing employee experience improvements, up from 52% pre-pandemic.
Employees want more out of their work, including flexibility and purpose, as well as personal and career growth opportunities. We see HR and learning professionals focusing on a range of measures that will improve employee experience in order to attract and retain the best talent, including offering more options around improving skills that support a clear career path for each employee.
2. Companies prioritize filling the digital skills gap
A global survey recently found that 76% of IT leaders have skills gaps within their function – a sky-high level that has stayed relatively consistent over the past three years. Over a third of IT leaders (38%) also believe that learning and development programmes are being “outpaced” by the relentless rate of technological change. The digital skills gap is not just a headache for CIOs and IT Directors; further research suggests that 76% of UK companies believe it will ultimately impact profitability.
In 2022, we see the impact of the digital skills gap really start to bite, driven by a combination of:
- A highly competitive business environment as we emerge from the pandemic;
- Opportunities to differentiate and transform organizations provided by AI, automation and digital innovation which are dependent on access to the right digital skills;
- The need to attract the very best IT talent who want to see opportunities for personal and career growth.
Forward-thinking organizations will start to act immediately to improve the situation, investing in employee experience, reskilling and other talent attraction measures to underpin competitive positions.
3. L&D teams double down on upskilling and reskilling
With talent attraction a constant challenge and acute skills shortages in some areas, we predict more Learning & Development teams will prioritize efforts to upskill and reskill their people in 2022. Bridging skills gaps by training and developing your existing workforce helps to fill positions, reduce attrition costs, AND support employee experience efforts.
It’s not surprising that even in 2021, LinkedIn research singled out “Skilling and Reskilling” as the top priority for L&D professionals, reported by 59% of respondents. Another report from Udemy shows that reskilling is growing: the estimated proportion of the workforce upskilled in 2020 was 38%, compared to just 14% in 2019. This proportion is very likely to have grown in 2021 and will probably continue to do so throughout 2022.
This year, we see more L&D teams actively investing in reskilling by introducing specific development and training programs, but also laying the foundations for more sustainable reskilling programs by developing strategies, investing in technology platforms, carrying out skills audits and developing competency frameworks. Our insights paper gives tips on “Making it happen”, covering seven essential points starting with aligning your stakeholders behind a vision.
4. More companies encourage a culture of learning and development
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the way we work, ushering in a new era of hybrid and remote working which has been a catalyst for more people-centric approaches and initiatives. This people-focused emphasis is having deeper, more subtle results such as creating more empathetic leadership styles and influencing underlying organizational culture initiatives.
Culture is important. PwC’s authoritative 2021 global culture survey found that companies which have a strong and coherent culture are more likely to have higher revenue, higher levels of employee satisfaction and even higher customer satisfaction. A true culture of learning and development where personal and career growth is deeply embedded in employee behaviour and leadership priorities should be a potent and powerful ambition for companies. When learning is engrained in everything you do, improvement, innovation and empathy go hand-in-hand.
We think that in 2022, more companies and their leaders will encourage a culture of learning. The way this happens will depend on relative levels of maturity around learning and training. In our paper, we outline three key steps in moving towards embedding a learning culture: knowing the skills inside your organization, supporting the growth of your people, and then actively developing your culture. We think more companies will be proactive in moving down this road, advancing the journey by reflecting skills and learning in a variety of tangible and visible ways.
5. Businesses that know their internal skills gain the upper hand
In our report, we cover the power of knowing the skills within your organization. Uncovering the hidden skills and relative experience of your workforce is like switching a light on. The collective untapped skills of your existing internal talent can prove to be a remarkable resource when overcoming challenges around filling vacancies and completing project teams, while simultaneously pinpointing the areas you need to focus on for reskilling and recruitment. More profoundly, it starts a dialogue with employees about skills and career aspirations and drives momentum for a variety of initiatives that can start to embed a learning culture and move the needle on talent attraction and retention, as well as employee experience.
In 2022, knowing your skills will provide significant competitive advantage, but to do this properly will likely require a commitment across your stakeholders, as well as investment in solutions like Talentwize.
Download our free insights paper “Reduce employee attrition by focusing on individual career pathways”