Best Practices for Getting the Global Workforce Ready for the Future of Work, Today
McKinsey Global Institute recently predicted that as many as 800 million workers— about a fifth of the global workforce — may lose their jobs to automation by 2030. The report noted that workers in the U.S. and other “advanced” nations will be hardest hit.
These are some intimidating figures, and the publication of this report was followed by many doomsday headlines, such as “Robot automation will ‘take 800 million jobs by 2030’” and “Will Your Job Still Exist in 2030?”
But the headlines failed to capture an important nuance. The report did conclude that millions of jobs would become obsolete but noted that “even when some tasks are automated, employment in those occupations may not decline but rather workers may perform new tasks.”
In other words, workers will need to be reskilled or upskilled. This will be commonplace in the coming decades, particularly in organizations that plan to keep pace with the exponential technological changes headed our way.
Following are the whys, hows and a few best practices for reskilling and upskilling your workforce.
Plan Big for Big Changes Now
If your company is going to adopt an automated solution that will require many of your employees to reskill, give them as much notice as possible — ideally, at least 18 months.
It will take time to meet with them individually and for them to understand where their skills can be best utilized. It will also take them time to prepare emotionally. They might have to invest time in learning opportunities outside the workplace or shadow someone on a few projects.
Blindsiding your employees is a definite recipe for failure—and it’s irresponsible, particularly because the change is likely to be industry-wide, not just company-wide. When an entire skill domain is being interrupted, you’re talking about large swaths of people whose skills will become obsolete, potentially leaving them out of work, and you risk the possibility that their jobs may be eliminated. So, the problem is significant on both sides.
Motivate With Abundance and a Growth Mindset
Generally speaking, employees are open to learning new skills. They want to improve and grow. But there are some people who resist being reskilled until they realize that they’re going to be unemployable. That’s a stressful moment, and it’s not a great mindset for learning.
And then there’s the notion of abundance, and one of your goals as a leader should be to move people emotionally to a new and more optimistic perspective. In a world of abundance, people are thinking about opportunities; they get into the “growth mindset,” which scholar Carol Dweck defined in Harvard Business Review as a belief that talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others. “When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed,” she noted.
Connect People to Success
Here, I offer a personal anecdote. When my mother was in her 40s, she went back to college and got her degree in education. Shortly thereafter, she joined the LAPD when they lifted the age ban for new recruits.
Despite years of being an accountant and then graduating from college, she was still worried that she wasn’t necessarily prepared for becoming a police officer. What she eventually came to realize is that she’d been applying all of that “general education” in her daily life. So, in reality, she was well-prepared, with quite a bit of valuable, transferable experience–both life and professional.
There’s a world of possibilities out there, and one way to get your employees excited about it is to help them make the connection between what they know, what they’re passionate about, and where it’s best for them to go next.
Some of the best prep you can do, whether you are an employee or a leader, is to have a dialogue on a regular basis about in what direction you may like to go, how those skills you have may transfer, and what skills you may still need to develop.
Recognize the Larger Effects of Reskilling
So far we’ve been talking about how reskilling benefits organizations and employees, but we’ve barely touched on how much it benefits society.
Deloitte published a report about the rise of the social enterprise. The upshot of the report was that “businesses today are being valued as much by their interactions and impacts on society as they are by their financial results.”
Businesses have an obligation to look out for the economy, society and the planet. If you’re a large enterprise, reskilling and upskilling employees isn’t optional.
You’re employing a lot of people, and those people work in communities. Those communities support families — and the economy.
Organizations of all sizes that commit time and resources to helping their employees learn and grow will be setting themselves, their employees and the economy up for greater success. We need to point human beings toward work that is more meaningful by leveraging the technology we have today to get insights about their skills and aspirations. The bottom line is that we really have an opportunity to create the future and to motivate our internal workforce by unleashing the talent inside.