As is often the case, the widespread and accelerated change in the corporate world has been a source of some insecurity. And in a unique way, there is virtually no sector that’s been excused from the catalytic force that is COVID-19. It’s cause for consternation on two ends. First, employers are bringing new challenges into this next normal. Much of the COVID-era survival strategy has relied on technological infrastructure, and has demanded new digital literacy across all segments of the organization. The digital transformation represents a learning curve and skills transformation not only for employers, but for the rest of their teams.
That leads us to the second item of consternation, which is the task of re-skilling and up-skilling an entire workforce. For the individual employee, the post-COVID economy can present new barriers to entry. Senior level executives might be destabilized by a rapidly changing role. Entry level candidates could easily be discouraged by the task of entering a still-shifting corporate landscape, already questioning how their existing education and certifications stack up. And employees at all levels, in all industries, are having to confront the fact that their roles have become more flexible than ever, and that flexibility is requiring a new set of skills.
Continuous Learning: A Win-Win
Luckily, there are strong silver linings in the current skills transformation. The first relates directly to the prospect of learning, which has become necessary in the new corporate normal. Learning itself has long been an aspect of workplace experience that employees find ‘very important’ in determining their overall satisfaction. Years ago, a research report by The Society for Human Resource Management surveyed 600 US employees, asking them to rank the factors of influence that determined their job satisfaction and engagement. Among 43 potential aspects, 43% of respondents ranked job specific training as ‘very important,’ prioritizing that over other crucial factors like the networking opportunities and relationships with co-workers. 40% also ranked ‘the organization’s overall commitment to professional development’ at the same level of importance, and 39% did the same for ‘career development opportunities.’
It’s clear, too, that these respondents are picking up on a truth that’s been well-proved in the available corporate literature. A scientific article by researcher Steven Schmidt begins with the proclamation, ‘Opportunities for training and development are paramount in decisions regarding employee career choices.’ The researcher goes on to tackle the quantitative relationship between training and job satisfaction, proving that in fact ‘the relationship between the two variables was found to be significant.’ More specifically, he found that job training satisfaction accounted for 55% of the variance in employees’ overall job satisfaction.
Today’s Topic: Tech
It’s clear, then, that on-the-job learning is both a crucial element of a successful recovery and an irreplaceable part of an employee’s experience. The question follows: what should be the focus of an employee’s learning? What specific training will both engage and prepare the employee, preparing them and their employers for success in the new business world?
The answer has never been so straightforward. The need for digital leadership in the new workplace landscape is at an all-time high. To meet the accelerated digital needs, companies will both need to hire new, competent talent and fall back on their existing teams, offering them ample opportunity to re-skill and up-skill in order to meet the organization’s new needs. Still with only a partial return to office, and uncertainty regarding the future of in-person work, companies will need strong digital leadership and ample digital literacy training to maintain a connected, forward-thinking office culture.
The Case for Virtual Training
In a perfect corporate word, each employee would have the resources they need to engage successfully in the digital transformation. Even if a role doesn’t directly require advanced coding capacities, achieving a base level of digital literacy helps employees engage in more cross-functional activities within the organization, which has proven to be important for the successful functioning of agile teams.
Naturally, this is easier said than done. But a number of low and no-cost training options now exist to make the required skills transformation possible. With limited resource spend, employers can offer their teams the opportunity to learn from the comfort of their homes. Virtual training is not only cost effective at scale, it’s also the best way to provide employees with more options regarding their learning environment. Acquiring new skills can be daunting, but virtual and archived lessons help employees engage in ways that work for them. Many online options offer a certification upon completion, creating the important experience of progress and achievement among trainees.
The benefits of continuous learning opportunities can’t be overstated. Employers will see an uptick in their team’s performance, and team members will experience increased confidence and fulfillment as a result. The newly necessary skills transformation in the workplace could, if managed correctly, lead to a more meaningful corporate world in the post-pandemic normal.
About Contributing Author Pablo Listingart
Pablo Listingart is the Founder and Executive Director of ComIT, a non-profit organization designed to help people overcome employment barriers and re-introduce themselves to the local market. With an extensive network, ComIT builds ever-changing courses tailored to industry needs, connecting promising graduates with companies in need of local talent.