Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams Talentoday

Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams

Why Upskilling is Crucial for Hybrid Teams Talentoday

There were a lot of things I didn’t know I could do before COVID-19 upended the way we live and work. For example, I already knew my way around the kitchen, but I had no idea I could make tasty banana bread! I also learned how to cook a spicy jambalaya, brew my own beer and, when I wasn’t eating or drinking, I figured out how to use a 35mm film camera to expand upon my interest in photography. In my home life, I would call these achievements “little victories.” Little did I know that, were I to do the same sort of expanding of my talents in the workplace, it would be known as “upskilling.” 

Upskilling is the process of using training and education to deepen an employees’ abilities within their area of expertise. This is slightly different from reskilling, which is when an employee is trained on an entirely new skill set in order to move into a different role. Instead, upskilling is all about building upon an employee’s existing skills in hopes of enhancing their impact on an organization.

While my personal upskilling may not have major implications for the workplace (even if some morning meetings are greatly improved by the addition of banana bread), upskilling has the potential to reshape the way organizations recruit and develop talent – especially as teams embrace hybrid work models. 

The Skills Gap Continues to Expand

As the modern workplace undergoes unprecedented changes, existing skills gaps across all industries are widening. While employees may have entered into the workforce with skills that were in high demand at the time, the rate of digital transformation has increased sharply in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many of these employees behind. According to McKinsey & Company, 87 percent of companies say they have skills gaps or expect to within a few years. Jobs are changing fast, and employers and employees are struggling to keep up. 

There are a few options at organizations’ disposal for dealing with these gaps in needed competencies. In less competitive hiring markets, one appealing course of action would be to bring in new talent to fit the needs. However, today’s recruiting landscape is characterized by a dwindling supply of talent and an aggressive influx of demand from employers. These conditions have forced many employers to look inwards when determining how to address their skills gaps in the years ahead. 

Employees are Looking for a Change

To exacerbate the problem even further, this expanding skills gap comes at a time when workers are beginning to quit jobs at extraordinary levels. In April 2021, the number of employees leaving their companies spiked to approximately 4 million according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), leading many to refer to the phenomenon as, “The Great Resignation.”

In truth, does anyone ever really want to be forced to find a new job? In the same way that employers would rather retain talent than search for replacements, employees are hoping for reasons to stay at their current organizations before making a drastic move. Take the results of a recent PwC survey into consideration. Their findings show that the majority of workers are open to change, citing that 40 percent of respondents successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic and over 90 percent of those who adapted to remote work would prefer to continue working in this style of environment. On top of that, 77 percent of workers are ready to learn new skills. 

The issue is not a lack of willingness to learn on the side of employees but, rather, the lack of opportunities for upskilling offered by employers. However, if organizations are serious about closing their skills gap and retaining employees in the face of an explosion of resignations, it’s time to make learning and development programs a real priority. 

Make Upskilling a Priority 

While employers seem to recognize the problem they face, there remains a gap between this recognition and an understanding of how to address the underlying causes. According to a 2021 survey conducted by Gartner, 68 percent of HR leaders cited building critical skills as a top priority. However, more than 30 percent of the same leaders say that they don’t know what skills gap their employees have, how to effectively integrate learning into employee workflows or can’t create skill development solutions fast enough to meet evolving skill needs. In short, employers know there are skills gaps to address, but are uncertain where they lie or how to fix them.

The way forward is two-pronged, based first on assessment then solidified with commitment: 

  • Assessment: First and foremost, organizations need to utilize tools to empower them to better evaluate their candidates and employees. Knowing the current capabilities of a team is important, but identifying the potential for growth can be critical. While necessary technical skills can be assessed through traditional means, such as verifying education and certification backgrounds, this must be coupled with a deeper understanding of soft skills. Scientifically-based soft skills assessments can provide insight into an individual’s capacity to upskill into a role over time. 
  • Commitment: Once the workforce has been properly assessed, organizations must then approach upskilling differently than standard onboarding and other job-specific training opportunities. Instead, upskilling opportunities must be treated like the valuable benefits they are. As noted in Fast Company, “For the top tier of talent, upskilling is emerging as a must-have employee benefit, like a retirement saving plan, employer subsidized health care, or paid time off.” In other words, these education programs cannot be haphazardly inserted into existing workflows. Rather, time and space must be set aside for employees to truly feel as though upskilling is a top priority. 

As the way we work continues to change, teams are struggling to keep up. However, by devoting time and effort to upskilling programs, there are win-win solutions available for employers and employees alike. 

Are you ready to evaluate your team’s soft skills to determine upskilling opportunities? Discover the powerful science of people analytics that drives MyPrint by clicking here.


How Culture Add Goes Beyond Culture Fit to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Talentoday

How Culture Add Goes Beyond Culture Fit to Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

For years now, organizations have been stressing the importance of using company culture to drive recruitment and team management efforts. The theory being that hiring individuals that align with the elements that make up a company’s culture - like preferred work environment, company mission, leadership style, values, ethics, expectations and goals - will lead to a happier, more productive workforce.

It’s why most HR professionals have seen (or have had a hand in crafting) recruiting pitches like these:

“Be a part of a fast-paced team!”

“Join our values-driven organization!”

“Are you looking to work in a collaborative and creative environment? Apply now!”

While these culture-driven hiring efforts may be well meaning, there’s growing research indicating that making decisions based on “culture fit” alone may be missing a bigger point. Instead, the real key to unlocking a productive and diverse workforce may be what’s known as “culture add.” 

What is Culture Fit? 

To begin, hiring professionals need to assess how the industry has been operating in order to determine the best path forward. When culture fit first gained momentum in offices, the idea seemed both groundbreaking and simple. Instead of only relying on hard skills and job description qualifications when determining the best possible fit for a role, HR teams decided to go further. Now, how people go about their work was just as important as what they were doing. Since the style and approach required for being successful at one organization may not transfer to another, culture fit aims to assess whether a candidate’s attitude, motivation and values are aligned with the culture.

Where Does Culture Fit Fall Short?

Unfortunately, hiring for culture fit does not always add up to the ideal workforce its proponents claim to deliver. While the attention this methodology brought to historically under-evaluated areas of candidate profiles, such as personality, motivations and behaviors, was an improvement, it also led many hiring managers into a dangerous trap known as affinity bias. According to LinkedIn, “Affinity bias is the tendency to have a preference to people like ourselves. In hiring, affinity bias can mean leaning toward one candidate over another because they have a relatable background, belief, or appearance.” In other words, while organizations may have thought they were hiring the best candidates for the job thanks to how well they “fit” into a culture, they may have unknowingly been building a homogenous workforce lacking in true diversity. This same research goes on to note that inclusive companies are nearly two times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market, and these same companies outperform industry norms by an average of 35 percent.

Clearly, while hiring for culture fit can have its benefits, companies that do so may be leaving countless amazing hires behind due to rigid match criteria. 

How is Culture Add Different? 

Today, the practice of hiring for culture add aims to improve where culture fit strategies fall short. As a recent article in Fast Company puts it,” Assessing for culture fit can unintentionally encourage managers to pick candidates that look like everyone else. But looking for culture add helps managers to determine how a candidate’s individuality and differences can make a company better and stronger.” Rather than stifling the things that make a candidate unique, culture add aims to find ways to embrace that individuality within the existing framework of a company’s culture. 

In truth, getting to this point can be challenging - especially for larger organizations with deeply ingrained cultures and hiring processes. Culture change takes time, and there needs to be top-to-bottom buy-in to ensure everyone moves in the right direction to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion at scale. LaFawn Davis, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at Indeed.com, offers these best practices for companies looking to move towards culture add-based hiring:

  • Empower recruiters to push back. When culture fit is given as the reason to decline an offer, recruiters should be able to ask follow-up questions to ensure this reasoning is not being used as an excuse to make decisions based on bias or emotion.
  • Ask for more details. Sparking a deeper conversation about a hiring manager’s desired attributes and skills, and how the candidate may meet or miss these marks, could be another way to get beyond a cultural fit impasse.
  • Use rubric-based scoring. Go beyond gut-feeling! Having a reliable scoring system can point to where candidates may have fallen short or, if the hiring manager can’t point to something specific, give the recruiter a reason for challenging biased thinking. 

As organizations continue to recognize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in all industries and workplace settings, the concept of culture fit may be coming to an end. Instead of only hiring those who can fit themselves into a tidy box of strictly defined cultural norms, it’s time for human resource professionals to tap into the power of embracing what makes each of us truly unique. 

After all, where’s the fun in just fitting in anyway? 

Are you ready to build a diverse workforce through the power of science-driven people analytics? Discover the science behind MyPrint by clicking here.