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April 8, 2020

The Key to Building the Workforce of the Future? Allow for Practice

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The workplace was rapidly shifting before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the world on its head, organizations must adjust for the workforce of the future. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that job roles are changing, and there's a growing need for upskilling and reskilling—both technical and social.

Even before the madness unfolded, businesses realized the competitive benefits of upskilling and reskilling their employees and partners. The Wall Street Journal reported that TSYS, one of the world's biggest payment processors, announced in 2017 it needed to upskill its people to meet the changing demands of the industry. This was critical to the life of the business. However, many legacy employees faced an uncomfortable reality of having to upskill or move out of positions they had held for years or even decades.

This conflict is prevalent across industries. According to Forrester, "Automation and the expected job changes and job losses are increasingly front and center in employees' sense of security and self—creating a level of anxiety that can paralyze the most talented of people."

Workers are inhibited not only by the skills gaps that emerge in paradigm shifts, but by the stress they can induce. Employers have a responsibility to reduce the friction of that change with strategic learning.

The bigger question

How does a business make learning a priority? Not only does it take a massive organizational effort, supported and championed from all corners of the business; it also takes self-motivation on the individual level. You need your workers to break their own inherent bias against learning new things.

That means a business must support and encourage people to push themselves to develop new capabilities. Businesses need to understand that for people, developing the willingness to experiment and accepting oneself as "beginning over again" can be uncomfortable.

The key is knowing that anyone can train oneself to learn. It's easy to internalize one's perceived failure in the learning process if it doesn't click right away. We must empower people to turn off this inner dialog. To move the needle on self-motivation and building the workforce of the future, it takes practice.

Allow for practice

Practice builds confidence. Remember when you first learned to drive? The steps were overwhelming. You must successfully move forward, stop and park. After a few runs like this, you were able to drive across the parking lot, down the street, onto the highway. With each new mastered step, the mind is free to practice new things.

The key to successful practice is breaking tasks into chunks and then building on those chunks. Like building a wall, place one brick at a time until a finished product appears. The same holds true for learning new skills. The skill doesn't form fully following one online class. Upskilling takes practice and practice takes time. Organizations should allow people to schedule practice time on their terms. This focused time is allotted purely to upskilling.

It's important that businesses understand that people learn in different ways. There are those who drink up all up information, like a thirsty runner. Then there are those who take longer to gather information but, like a slow walker, notice all the details along the way, enjoying the journey.

Leverage an LMS

Recognizing the different people in your organization and giving them dedicated time to practice is the first step in helping people learn new skills that will be critical to your ever-shifting business. Then, you need to leverage the systems that create a positive environment for training and practice. Tap a learning management system (LMS) to prepare your workforce using practice. Learner engagement features—like leaderboards, surveys and social media portals—capture the attention of learners as they practice new skills. Plus, robust reporting features enable you to track the effectiveness of that practice over time.

Be ready for the workforce of the future by preparing your workforce of today. Your agility to conquer these times of uncertainty will set your workforce up to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Absorb LMS can be your partner in preparing your workforce of the future. Register for a short demo to see how.