Three steps to reskill the workforce for post-Covid-19

02 December 2020 4 min. read

In light of the rapidly changing landscape, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses need to adapt their capabilities to meet demands of the new normal. According to The Next Organization Consultant Camille Zaaijer, there are three essential steps for companies to help staff reskill for further changes to operations.

A number of recent studies have shown that attitudes to remote working have changed drastically over the course of 2020. Having found they can be both safe and productive from the comfort of their own home, polling conducted by a global research firm has found that 40% of workers now wants to continue to work from home, even beyond the second lockdown.

In order to facilitate any such change, however, the study also noted that employers will need to help their workforce improve their digital and practical skillsets. Around 30% of respondents told researchers they need more digital expertise, while only a quarter have been offered digital training by their employers – and 21% said they are relying on different management and leadership skills while working remotely, yet only 17% have been offered training on it.

Three steps to reskill the workforce for post-Covid-19

Camille Zaaijer is a Consultant at The Next Organization; a professional services firm which specialises in innovation and digital transformation work. The consultancy helps clients by providing insights, advice, future-oriented solutions and personalised training – and according to Zaaijer, this gives the organisation a key understanding of how firms can adapt to life under lockdown.

Looking at the changes brought by Covid-19, she explained, “It is essential for organisational survival to invest in learning programs that reskill employees, because the disruptive changes caused by the pandemic are mostly permanent and go beyond remote working. Therefore, to be successful in the post-pandemic era, organisations must re-evaluate their added value, business model and skill their employees accordingly.”

Identify trends

The first step said Zaaijer is to identify relevant trends and assess how this impacts the business model. “Analysing changes in the environment of the organisation or important stakeholders, and the impact of them on an organisation are important – before planning how to adjust a business model to keep adding value.”

Pointing to restaurants as an example, Zaaijer elaborated, “Social distancing, being an observed trend, is impacting restaurants. The social distancing makes it more challenging for restaurants to have guests eating in. Impacting their amount of served guests per night, thus their sales and revenue. The impact is such that the current business model in which guest eat at the restaurant is no longer tenable. Restaurants have to adjust this part of the business model to survive. A possible adjustment might be a delivery service that delivers meals to the customer’s front door.”

Highlight relevant skills

A skills gap refers to the difference between the skills required for the new business activities and the skills employees currently possess. Again, pointing to restaurants, the Consultant added that if a venue adjusts to a delivery model to make up for its physical location being closed, it will need to ensure mobility, “such as staff that can drive a car. If staff cannot drive, then there is a skills gap which has to be addressed if the new business model is to succeed.”

Zaaijer continued, “Once you have translated the relevant trends into an adjusted business model, it is important to determine which knowledge and skills are critical to make the adjusted business model a success. Then it can be mapped out whether the knowledge and skills needed are present in the organisation. Most likely the adjustment will change skills requirements for employees, which means that they will need new knowledge and skills to be successful in their job.”

Modular learning programmes

In order to close any skills gap, organisations must tailor their learning experiences to ensure that they help learners reach their goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Illustrating this, if two hypothetical employees need to learn to drive, but one is ‘intermediate,’ while the other has never touched a car before, it would be a waste of time and money to give both workers the same training regime. “By tailoring a learning programme consisting of standard building blocks to the personal needs of both, the employer saves investments,” explained Zaaijer.

“Some employees may have more knowledge or better skills compared to others. In that case, it is inefficient to educate and train better-skilled employees in the same way as the lesser skilled employees. Instead, it is essential to develop personal learning journeys for each employee. One way of achieving that is by setting up a modular learning program consisting of different ‘building blocks’ which can be put together according to personal needs.”

Finally, Zaaijer asserted that monitoring the progress of the training is essential for success. She concluded, “Once the roll-out of the training curriculum kicks-off, it is important to gain an overview of the learning progress and gain insight into the performance in practice. Based on these insights you can steer the skills development where needed and adjust the learning program effectively.”