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Four workforce trends for your business – and your people

By Academy Xi

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Four workforce trends stood out in 2021 as the accelerated pace of change required businesses to adapt their planning processes

Now more so than ever before, organisations are actively rethinking their approach to workforce planning. In an era when new business models, digital transformation and disruptive innovations are impacting businesses in every sector.

People & Culture and other senior leaders are recalibrating what is required to meet business goals. Organisations are realising that one of the best ways to attract and retain employees, keep loyal customers and satisfy partners is to place their people front and centre.

We’ve outlined four key trends in how companies are evolving their approach to human resources. That said, these examples only represent starting points. Whatever your specific talent needs, there are countless ways to meet them. We’re here to help you develop a dynamic, highly skilled workforce that can build, move and improve your business in 2022 and throughout the years to come.

Trend #1 – More about skills, less about roles

In their recent report, Gartner stated that “to build the post-pandemic workforce, [we will need to] focus less on roles – which group unrelated skills – and more on the skills needed to drive an organisation’s competitive advantage and the workflows that fuel this advantage.”

This shift comes off the back of 24 months of unprecedented business challenges: skills shortages, digital transformation, disrupted business models and changing worker expectations. Skills are paramount because they help address business challenges. Roles, however, simply categorise and denote how one employee relates to all others within an organisational structure.

By focussing on skills rather than job roles, businesses can also provide their people with the opportunity to transcend a specific function. This kind of flexibility allows for greater all-round value to the business in areas that lie outside the KPIs of a specific job role (ie: supporting colleagues, working cross-functionally).

The argument for continuous, career-long learning has never been stronger.

In the year ahead, Workforce Planning and Learning & Development teams will need to perform crucial skills gaps analyses. It will then also be their responsibility, along with senior management, to set in motion a mindset shift for employees to consider adopting critical skills as opposed to preparing for the next specific role.

Trend #2 – Redeployment is not a dirty word

The term “redeployment” is undergoing a massive renovation. 

Traditionally used when an employee takes up a new position to avoid redundancy, it is now commonly used as a term for when organisations reorganise themselves to be future-ready, redeploying existing talent into new roles. In the latter context, it is seen as a win for both the employee and the business. 

The benefit to both individuals and businesses is obvious. Employees will be presented with new career opportunities and real career agility. Businesses will be able to retain their people via redeployment and placement in priority business areas.

With the average Australian worker needing 7 new digital skills by 2025 (Amazon Web Services, 2021), the pathways to redeployment are going to be overwhelmingly digital in direction. Businesses will seek to build out new internal ‘Digital Hubs’ which will include experienced digital talent working alongside newly redeployed (and upskilled) digital professionals.

Shifting the perception of redeployment is going to be a critical step towards addressing the digital skills crisis. Understand how we can help grow your future workforce with talent pipeline initiatives.

Trend #3 – The democratisation of data

Data is revolutionising every area of business. The most successful businesses use it to understand customers, implement innovation, create personalised experiences and initiate impactful change. Yet for many companies, a culture of data-driven decision making remains out of reach. 

In order to democratise the power of data, businesses need strong processes across the enterprise. Successful businesses differentiate themselves by embedding data as the driving force behind all levels of decision-making –  from executive level through to front-line staff. 

We’ve seen organisations have success in approaching their data-driven journey in two phases. First, they have created a Data Literacy Hub (content, tools and resources repository). Second, they then engage in an organisation-wide program tackling baseline data literacy knowledge and practical skills (understanding insights, data-driven storytelling, data visualisation etc.)

The more data-savvy businesses are also empowering their leaders with comprehensive data skillsets. Their goal is to raise data literacy levels among domain specialists and senior leaders through practical professional development experiences.

If you need any more evidence that harnessing data is here to stay, businesses that base decisions on data – not instincts – are likely to be 19 times more profitable.

Trend #4 – Job switching en-masse

A recent large-scale salary survey by Hays, a worldwide recruitment specialist with offices in most of Australia’s major cities, concluded nearly 40% of Australians are seriously considering career changes. 

With ongoing remote work inherently more viable in digital industries, it’s unsurprising many employees are upskilling in digital disciplines. Additionally, professional ‘on the job’ upskilling is now more than a ‘nice to have’ – it is expected by employees.

What does this mean for workforce planning? 

Organisations who neglect their learning and development strategies run the risk of waning performance, reduced employee engagement and staff churn. In a talent market that is already stacked in favour of employees, ongoing learning opportunities for employees will remain a key tactic in creating a sustainable workforce.

If your business is struggling to plug the digital skills gaps, Academy Xi is here to help. See how we’ve helped organisations transform their workforce, train people in priority business areas and create a buffer protecting them from disruptive workforce trends.

If you want to build a future-ready team that’s with you for the long haul, get in touch with us today.

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