Employee skill development might not be effective among organisations, as staffers apply only 54% of the new skills they learn despite the 10% year-over-year increase in the number of skills required for a single job, said Gartner recently.
In response to the fast-changing skills environment, nearly two-thirds of HR leaders have had to take a reactive approach to addressing skill needs, which results in employees failing to apply almost half of the new skills they learn, according to results of Gartner’s 2020 Shifting Skills Survey for HR Executives.
While the majority of organizations are utilizing a reactive approach to skills building that doesn’t work, most are still striving to be more predictive to get ahead of skill shifts, said Sari Wilde, managing vice president in the Gartner HR practice.
“The problem is that a predictive approach predicated on HR identifying a specific skill set need for the future also fails,” Wilde pointed out.
Exacerbating the issue is the fact that 33% of the skills needed three years ago are no longer relevant, according to Gartner TalentNeuron data.
- 60% of HR leaders report pressure from the CEO to ensure employees have the skills needed in the future.
- Compared with three years ago, 69% of HR executives report more pressure from employees to provide development opportunities that will prepare them for future roles.
- When HR leaders take a predictive approach to managing shifting skills, employees apply only 37% of the new skills they learn.
A dynamic approach to skill development needed
The most effective HR functions use a dynamic skills approach focused on structuring HR and the organisation – people, systems and strategies – to be able to respond dynamically to changing skills needs, Gartner noted.
This approach helps HR and business leaders sense shifting skills needs in real time, develop skills at the time of need and empowers employees to make informed skills decisions dynamically, the research firm added.
Gartner advised that leveraging a dynamic skills approach enables HR and business leaders to do three critical things.
Sense shifting skills in real time. A dynamic skills approach anticipates skill shifts as they are occurring—rather than predicting the future—and adapts to those shifts in an iterative, course-corrective way. To sense shifting skills, organizations can facilitate cross-organizational networks of stakeholders that are sensitive to, and empowered to, address skills as they shift in real time.
Develop skills at the time of need. This approach goes beyond the realm of traditional learning and development (L&D) tactics, such as classroom training or curated e-learning libraries. To develop skills at the time of need, organizations are able to identify and implement skill accelerators — strategies HR can adapt by leveraging existing resources (e.g., content, people, skill adjacencies) to develop new skills solutions at speed.
Employees make skills decisions dynamically. A dynamic skill approach calls for two-way skills transparency between the organisation —the skills it needs, skills it no longer needs, and where its needs are unknown — and the employee who comes with current skills and interests.
Adopting this dynamic skill approach, HR is then able to create channels for employees and the organisation to exchange skills information, which facilitates a better match between employees and their organisation to pursue mutually beneficial and flexible skills development.
“Organisations that embrace a dynamic approach to developing skills find that employees are both learning the right skills and extracting the value from those skills in a way they do not within the reactive and predictive approaches,” said Wilde. “The result is that employees apply 75% of the new skills they learn.”
The dynamic skills approach boosts other key talent outcomes as well, including a 24% improvement in employee performance and a 34% improvement in employees going above and beyond at work, she pointed out.