Building Workforce Resilience, Part 1: The Need.
When skills needs are both ‘soft’ and ‘digital’, where should you invest?
Over the next three articles, we’ll explore how learning leaders can build a more resilient workforce by embedding skills at the core. Learn more about workforce skilling in our interview with Ali Sharif, Learning Consultant, Sponge Group.
Why focus on workforce resilience?
We've all experienced the turmoil of the pandemic, but how specifically has Covid-19 shaken up work and altered life for employees?
Covid-19 disrupted business-as-usual at a fundamental level. Pre-pandemic, employees understood they were working at pace, doing more with less, and adjusting to digital transformation, but they did so amidst a few concrete certainties: they had a place to call work; most had a structured 9-5 routine; and many people enjoyed a clear career path. This has been removed for huge swathes of the workforce, causing disorientation.
The challenge of new remote working models
Second, as a knock-on from the disruption, it’s ushered in huge waves of uncertainty. McKinsey called it 'the great exhaustion' with employees feeling anxious about how new remote working models will work and disengaged when they feel they don't get the answers they need.
Those who worked throughout the pandemic are out of energy, but those who didn’t may have experienced reduced mental wellbeing, increased financial worries, and heightened concerns over job security, dubbed the ‘furlough effect.’
Physical to digital working
Very rapidly, organisations shut their physical doors and had to adapt to running business digitally.
Everything went online – from collaboration to communication, employees saw a seismic shift to reliance on digital infrastructures. This meant some of the subtler aspects of office life fell away; no more water cooler chats to catch up with colleagues, fewer impromptu introductions, less downtime moving between locations, and no commute to separate work from home.
These little moments have been removed or dramatically altered, forcing people to adapt.
Building workforce resilience
It's because of these factors - the fundamental shake up of the work location and structure, the waves of uncertainty about the future, and the rapid adoption of digital-first that resilience is crucial.
But what is needed to build this resilience? We see it as a combination of the ‘unsung heroes’, the soft interpersonal skills, and the digital-first skillsets people need to develop to help them cope, grow and succeed.