The Great Reskilling

The Great Reskilling

Ryan Storrar at EssenceMediacomX explains why change must come from the top when it comes to the new skills that organisations need today 

The workplace as we have known it is no longer. Multiple forces have created systemic disruptions which won’t be solved solely by traditional methods. Employers increasingly need to rethink the approach to fostering a thriving culture that is both productive for clients and rewarding for people. It is time for a great reskilling - not just for employees, but for employers too.  

Employers are facing a talent shortage globally, with recent reports suggesting that four in five employers struggle to find the skilled talent they need. In marketing and advertising, employment fell by 14% between 2019 and 2022, with the Advertising Association warning that the industry needs to stem the talent loss and attract new people. 

Many positions, especially those around digital and data, have been hard to fill. In the history of business, they’re also some of the newest positions created. What happens when the next iteration of technology creates further new roles for the workforce? 

The change curve ahead is substantial but exciting. There are four macro shifts that we must embrace.

AI is an enabler

Generative AI is on everyone’s lips at the moment, mainly debating how its ability to drive productivity will change future workforces. Some regard it with fear. But I think we should approach it with optimism. As we learn how to work with AI and take new approaches to everyday tasks, we get the sense that its limits will be bound only by our imaginations and our ability to ask it the right questions. 

Alongside people skills, everyone in the organisation will need to embrace AI, honing the ability to guide and customise it, to master the softer skills required to integrate this technology within the framework of daily customer challenges.  

As we integrate new applications into our businesses, it’s essential to foster a culture of innovation. That will help people not only be more open and accepting of new approaches and ideas but will serve to break traditions - a mindset change. 

In a future knowledge economy where ideas help you break through, keeping an open and inventive mind is what will give you the edge. 

Optimising hybrid working

Societal lines are blurring and people expect fluidity, not swim lanes in their lives. The same goes for work, too. It is increasingly the case for younger generations and employer attitudes must change. In order to attract and retain the best people, we have to look at the employee experience and ask ourselves what can be improved to make work more rewarding – be it more flexibility in remote working, more immersive training, or development opportunities for staff of all levels of seniority.  We’ve learned some important lessons in recent years. These include:

  • Taking a hybrid approach can work and fosters diversity of talent. 

  • Work / personal life boundaries need to be set. 

  • We must trust our employees. 

All of this requires a reset in managerial expectations and the development of remote support and culture-building skills. 

Evolving organisational structures

Business plans are often built on five to 10-year trajectories with accompanying operational structures formed to support future growth. As practices evolve, leaders will need to maintain a fluid structure to accommodate changes in skillsets and account for new roles not yet in existence. 

For now, hiring people based on potential and overall cultural fit rather than current skill set is becoming increasingly important and will help employees carve careers outside of pre-defined boundaries. 

Social commitments must be honoured

Social media has created new avenues for people to gain validation and what people expect from work is changing as a result. The latest Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer results confirm that businesses are the only institution seen as competent and ethical and CEOs are increasingly the ones obligated to improve economic optimism and hold divisive forces in society accountable. 

The responsibility of being a leader is no longer confined to shareholders, employees, and clients; contribution to society and the future health of our planet is also taken into consideration when employees assess whether a company’s culture will be right for them. 

Fundamentally, people need to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and feel good about going to work. 

All of the above is ubiquitous but is especially important for the younger cohorts of our working population. They are our future and are increasingly driven by values.  

If you think all this is a job for your talent function, then I’d encourage you to rethink. Successfully driving the shifts for our future work environment is a job for everyone and must be driven by the most senior leadership.  

Ryan Storrar is CEO of EssenceMediacomX

First published by Business Reporter