There’s no denying that the last two years have been turbulent for HR, employment and leadership – and sadly, there’s no let up in sight just yet.
Arguably the most vital HR issue of 2022 is going to be the need for organisations to create, implement and develop a culture of continuous learning and greater opportunities for talent like never before.
Research has shown that 40 per cent of employees are giving serious consideration to leaving their current roles within the next six months. Therefore, if businesses wish to avoid a damaging skills shortage, retention is absolutely key.
Organisations need to become open to offering on-going incentives including training, development, and opportunity for internal career progression, to retain their key talent.
During the previous two years, we have witnessed a significant number of changes in the world of employment, largely due to challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The number of changes, and the speed at which these changes have become relevant, are important factors to be considered and analysed when tackling continuous learning.
- The speed of technological change. Technology never stands stills, not even in the face of a global pandemic. Covid -19 has brought an increase in the demand for technological improvement. Key questions concerning technological changes and learning need to be addressed, such as which technological changes should be incorporated into an organisation and how is the initial training rolled out to the workforce? How can HR leaders be sure that regular refresher training is carried out in accordance with continuous learning?
- Constant digital augmentation. Career Star Group is passionate about digital developments changing or enhancing roles, and not replacing them. The communication and training of these advancements are a huge consideration for engineering, manufacturing, and industrial sectors, who wish to align digital augmentation with their organisational learning culture. How can this be carried out in a positive way?
- Digital disruption. Plans for current, and potential future digital disruption, need to be part of a continuous learning plan. Preparing the workforce and acting proactively, rather than reactively is key. Consideration must be given to the appropriate process and communication.
- Hybrid & flexible working. The workplace structure has changed dramatically. Many employees are no longer commuting or carrying out standard office hours and the four-day working week is gaining momentum. Some individuals changed their working pattern and environment due to the pandemic, and do not wish to return to their original rigid structure. Organisations that offer a combination of hybrid working and flexibility are considered to be more likely to succeed in 2022. Thought needs to be given to current policies and procedures in relation to this. A continuous learning culture needs to include support for line managers to empower them and arm them with the tools needed to lead their teams remotely.
- Diversity and Inclusion. Certainly not a new issue within HR but one which needs constant review and enforcement of necessary updates. Leadership and management teams should lead by example. Careful consideration and sufficient time should be given to ensure that training and development opportunities are always fair and inclusive.
We know that now more than ever, organisations are wanting solutions to adapt and grow with, and not against, the above changes.
Exact solutions will vary greatly from one industry to another, but one thing remains consistently clear; those who do not embrace change and adapt an appropriate continuous learning culture will face serious issues including skills shortage, retention and attraction issues.
Once these issues have taken root in an organisation it is more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve business goals and strategic plans.
Certainly, new and different solutions, processes and approaches should be looked at and if necessary re-designed and implemented. By taking these steps HR leaders can solve many of the real-time challenges that industries are currently facing. A continuous learning culture, which puts employees and their needs at the core, is essential so that organisation can be successful.
Managing Change and Continuous Learning Culture
We know that the workforce is an organisation’s greatest asset and therefore time and resources must be invested into employees now and in the future.
In summary, individuals need to be given the opportunity to gain the vital skills, relevant knowledge, and sector experience to thrive and develop. Employees need to be empowered with the necessary skills, learning, and tools to develop with change, not against it.
The responsibility falls on HR leadership, who must act sooner rather than later to align business goals and strategic plans with existing talent. HR leadership must look to produce a clear plan for a continuous learning culture to future proof their workforce.
We understand the challenges which can occur before, during and following organisational change such as improvement project planning and managing changes effectively is likely to raise several potential threats in any organisation.
We work in partnership with HR leaders during change to provide individual, tailored solutions to these challenges. These individual support plans are essential to minimise negative impact and disturbance within the business.
Continuous Learning Culture – A Strategic Plan
A continuous learning culture needs to include all employees, not just those thought to be relevant for succession planning or who are on the verge of leaving. From frontline employees to senior leaders, all employees and career levels need to be included. A learning culture created and promoted with equality and inclusivity in mind is vital.
It’s advisable to start at the beginning – by undertaking a full analysis of organisational needs. This includes current and future potential threats to the business, opportunities available, as well as current skill shortages.
The analysis then forms the basis for a strategic plan, underpinned by processes, policies, and practises.
As with all continuous plans there needs to be scope for sufficient regular reviews, which incorporate future improvement and development. As part of our service we can work with HR and leadership teams to produce the best strategic plan for their organisation.
Improvement projects are often triggers for complex and time-consuming HR processes. However, HR leaders don’t need to take on improvement projects alone. We can provide tools, expert advice, and support to successfully implement change so that it not only survives in 2022 and beyond, but thrives.
Sandra Boyd is Board Director of Career Star Group and National Practice Leader, SVP of Career Transition; Career Management at Gallagher Talent. She brings over 20 years’ experience in Career Management and Career Transition. Sandra is the author of “The Hidden Job Market” McGraw Hill-Ryerson and Co-Author of “Flexible Thinkers Guide to Extreme Career Performance.” She has been widely published and quoted across the US and Canada and and has been a guest on both radio and TV shows to discuss the ever-changing workplace.