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How do you support your employee's development in a hybrid workforce?

Research from PwC shows that only nine percent of people who can work remotely want to go back to a traditional commuting arrangement. What does this mean for training?

RMIT Online
RMIT Online

The way we work has transformed more rapidly in the last 18 months than ever before. Research from RMIT Online and Deloitte has found more than one in three Australians said that their day-to-day responsibilities are significantly different now compared to before the pandemic. And although 61 percent of people said they did develop new skills throughout 2020, these were most likely to be so-called “soft” skills like leadership, creativity and teamwork rather than technical skills.

"business leaders must confront the challenge of delivering much-needed technical skills in a new workplace context"

Hybrid work is here to stay

 

Research from PwC shows that only nine percent of people who can work remotely want to go back to a traditional commuting arrangement. Global tech companies like Facebook have embedded a remote-first approach in their operations, offering employees world-wide the option to work remotely in the future.

With remote and hybrid work likely to form the mainstay of work arrangements in the long-term and technological change in the workplace continuing apace, business leaders must confront the challenge of delivering much-needed technical skills in a new workplace context.

In this context there are multiple pressures on business leaders. Business transformation demands the development of “hard” technical skills like data analysis, digital change management, cybersecurity and programming.

Added to this accelerated trend is the fact that a remote working future itself requires greater digital skills across the entire workforce, and the architecture that supports remote work within and between organisations itself demands specialised technical skills to construct and maintain.

 

Lay the groundwork

 

Competition between employers for in-demand skills, and an uncertain international travel environment closing the door to skills mobility, have exacerbated the existing shortage of technically skilled professionals.

But managers must urgently build the fundamental architecture to deliver training to a distributed workforce before attempting more substantive upskilling programs.

Research from Boston Consulting Group shows that the digitisation of management tools, onboarding and affiliation processes, performance management frameworks and career progression pathways should be introduced to support hybrid work itself before more comprehensive training in emerging skills is delivered.

If this is not undertaken there is a very real risk that the delivery of technical skills to a distributed workforce can be suboptimal or ineffective because it is not supported by a functioning organisational structure that enables remote work.

RMIT Online research with Deloitte has found that more than half of Australia’s workers would prefer employer funded career-relevant training to free meals at work or even a $50 per week pay rise.

Train to retain

 

Leaders can approach training as a mutual benefit activity that they undertake jointly with their people, they can retain top-performing staff as well as augmenting the company’s skills in key areas.

RMIT Online research with Deloitte has found that more than half of Australia’s workers would prefer employer funded career-relevant training to free meals at work or even a $50 per week pay rise.

As a telco that enables remote work economy-wide, as well as within its own workforce, Australian telecommunications leader Optus saw a need to develop a substantial skills delivery capability through 2020.

Optus developed Optus U in consultation with education partners (including RMIT Online) to deliver strategic skills to its workforce through accredited micro-credentials in important areas for the telco. The company delivers ideation programs and hackathons solving real-world problems to their hybrid and remote workforce. They use the management architecture for remote work to provide learners with the support they need to successfully complete the training.

 

Aim for the middle ground

 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic when labour mobility was higher and business transformation less abrupt, a traditional objection to delivering tertiary-accredited skills training for employees was that the time and cost could not be justified.

It is understandable that managers will not want to shoulder the costs of a long-term training program like a masters degree for an employee who might leave when the training is completed.

But there are options that suit both workers and managers that are emerging as a digitally-enabled “middle ground” for in-demand technical skills. Increasingly business leaders are turning to short-term, fast-response micro-credentials that are developed to target emerging skills gaps in key technical areas.

For organisations like RMIT Online partner Isobar, a digital media agency, this both reduces churn, as employees are incentivised to stay where the latest knowledge is, and increases the company’s competitiveness in the fast-changing digital marketing business.

The rise of these more flexible and practical higher learning offerings has been concurrent with the development of remote learning platforms in both companies and universities, and with the transition to remote and hybrid work environments for enterprise organisations. When used together strategically, these tools and trends enable leading organisations to offer a near-constant re-skilling of their workers.

Combining your own business intelligence, digital management tools and strategic framework with emerging digital education tools to deliver micro-credentials that both address your urgent skills needs and “stack” into long-term formal qualifications for your staff can put your organisation at the leading edge of skills development in a hybrid working world.

 

For more information on upskilling opportunities for your business, check out check out how RMIT Online is working to transform businesses. Or browse all of our short courses here

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