As the year comes to a close, it’s clear that this year wasn’t an easy one for many businesses and how HR professionals may have had it the worst: we saw the beginning of the Great Resignation, tough economic conditions, and a sense that methods of, and attitudes towards, employee development need to change drastically if we want employees to not only stay with an organization, but become motivated again.
So, how can we start preparing to optimize L&D in 2022? Recent research from Gartner found that both reactive and proactive approaches to L&D are bound to fail in one way or another, so how can you learn (and teach your employees) to be more adaptive and dynamic? One way is to use your end-of-year reviews to determine your employees’ missing or lacking skills, and use flexible and customizable L&D platforms to improve individual performance – while staying dynamic.
End of Year Reviews
Even if your company performed well in 2021 by ensuring that employees acquired the skills they needed through your learning and development programs, now is the time to assess what skills they’ll need in the upcoming year. HR and L&D professionals are facing a new business reality in which the skills required to thrive are constantly changing, and adapting to these changes is a dynamic process.
Employee reviews for 2021 are a valuable and timely opportunity to identify skill gaps, examine strengths, and correct weaknesses. The results of this analysis should form the basis of your 2022 L&D programs.
Building Skills in a Shifting Market
As of today, the top five “most important” skills expected for 2022, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) are:
- Resilience and adaptability
- Technology skills / digital fluency
- Communication across remote or distributed teams
- Emotional intelligence
- Cross-functional collaboration
But this brings two questions to mind: how long will it be until other skills become more important, and how applicable is this list to a particular company?
It’s impossible to say for sure. The business world is rapidly changing, and with that, the skills employees are required to know is increasing by 10% each year, according to Gartner. Your employees have their own existing skill set, and you know your organization’s needs better than anyone outside your company, so macroeconomic lists like the one above should be used as a trend identifier, not as a guideline for what skills your employees need.
As a starting point for identifying employees’ missing skills, organizations must identify the range of issues that are unique to them. But the main takeaway from the WEF’s prediction should be that the necessary skills for nearly any job function are constantly changing, and eliminating skill gaps is a constant battle.
Eliminating Your Employees’ Skill Gaps
Before heading into those annual reviews, here are some important tips for HR and L&D leaders to keep in mind to ensure that employee skills remain at a competitive level:
Examine Current Conditions
Nobody’s perfect, and no company is, either. The first step in closing skill gaps is to set KPIs for each department or function, and assess how well employees are meeting them (check out our article about “measuring employee development” for more info). In some cases, a KPI can be quantitative, such as retention rates. However, other factors, like resilience and communication, are subjective. In these cases, interviews with managers are crucial for understanding the department’s unique KPIs. For customer-facing employees, the customer themselves may have some feedback regarding employee performance, which can be extremely helpful and can help determine the relevant KPIs.
Account for Strategy
KPIs are ideal for an employees’ current objectives, but any smart business is always looking ahead. Matching the skill level of staff members to the strategic plans of the company is vital for continued success. For instance, if your company intends to expand geographically in 2022, do your managers and relevant employees have sufficient cross-cultural and change management skills? Having a full view of the upcoming year’s business goals and matching them to the relevant employees’ skills (or lack thereof) will enable a tighter L&D strategy.
Look at Industry Trends
Of course, the company’s strategy should reflect changing competitive conditions and initiatives to come out on top in the market. However, there are many industry-wide, non-strategic skill changes that employers should also adjust to. Perhaps the most influential example of this is the COVID pandemic and the consequent move to hybrid and remote work, which led to a massive increase in demand for related soft skills such as mindfulness and listening.
Aligning Skill Gaps with Personalized Employee Development Programs
After each step, HR and/or L&D leaders should have a list of skills that need to be improved (or developed from scratch). Next, implementing a personalized employee development program that identifies people within the organization who have the right talents to make the most of their learning, and those employees who need help in certain areas.
This includes coming up with a method to match employees with a qualified coach, mentor, or expert to teach the exact skill they require. For instance, ‘communication’ might be the skill in need, but there are many types of communication: written, verbal, group, leadership, etc. An effective development program will deliver unique coaching expertise for each unique L&D program participant, instead of a one-size-fits-all effort that is not only not suited for all employees, but increases the overall L&D program costs with irrelevant expert assistance.
Getting Guidance from Employees
L&D leaders sometimes forget that they have a powerful, often untapped source of information for formulating the most effective L&D programs…employees themselves! Given that this is all about them, they should have a say in what they learn. And the End-of-Year review is a perfect time to hand them the microphone.
Employees are on the front lines and are often greatly aware of market changes, as well as the skills that go along with them. Many employees also have practical experience with learning initiatives and effective methods, particularly when it comes to their own L&D preferences.
Most importantly, however, is the engagement value of employee development. In the face of the Great Resignation, there is an even more urgent emphasis on retention.
Organizations are realizing that one-on-one learning and development experiences are central to keeping employees motivated and reducing churn. Employees given quality L&D opportunities are almost 300% more likely to be engaged at work than those who don’t receive proper training. That’s why, for example, Amazon has pledged $1.2 billion for upskilling programs. Similarly, managers who feel that they have proper development opportunities are 3.2 times more likely to remain with their organization for the next two years.
The Easy Way to Turn End-of-Year Reviews into a Customized L&D Plan for 2022
With GrowthSpace, we enable individualized L&D programs customized to fit the unique challenges of not only the entire company but each individual employee with one-on-one expert training with the perfect fit from our 1,000+ database of coaches, mentors, and trainers. By using end-of-year reviews as the basis for program creation, HR and management can pinpoint L&D efforts through the GrowthSpace platform, which offers the technology, feedback, and analysis necessary to make the most of your 2022 Learning and Development budget – and enjoy the best results.
Find out how GrowthSpace helps your employees learn the right skills at the right time, and enables your organization to save on irrelevant development programs. Book a demo today.