In today’s climate, companies are constantly seeking new ways to prepare for the future of work. With today’s job seekers having different wants and needs than in the past, hiring managers and leaders have had to adjust their strategies to fit the current market better. One of the main problems that companies across all industries face is whether they have properly prepared their workforce for the future of work.

During this process, there will undoubtedly be challenges that you must face. But, with the right solutions in place and armed with the right insights, you and your team can work to overcome these obstacles as they arise.  Here are the top five challenges you’ll face and how to overcome them.

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Challenges Organizations Are Facing Today

Some challenges present themselves regardless of your workforce. Due in large part to the pandemic, many organizations have had a difficult time navigating the changes to the workforce and the lack of talent on the market. Many of the common challenges organizations are facing today include:

A gap between available and desirable skills: Recent data has shown that highly skilled office workers are the first to get back to work after the pandemic compared to less-skilled workers. This has affected workers throughout all types of industries. Those seen as mid-level or senior level experience are less likely to pursue new skills or work towards a new career path if it takes years to attain. This leaves a gap between the available talent on the market and the kind of highly talented individuals organizations are looking for.

Fast fact: By 2028, the skills gap is expected to leave 2.4 million jobs unfilled, with an economic impact of $454 billion.

Creating learning and development opportunities to retain workers: Learning and developing programs are shaping up to be a challenge for many companies. Learning and development are centered around engaging your existing workforce and enhancing their skill sets at a basic level. These programs are also a valuable tool for attracting new talent to your workplace. 

However, when available talent is lacking, and retention is your main goal, finding ways to invest in your employees’ skills and future career is integral for keeping your best workers in-house. Today’s managers need to create opportunities for progression if they hope to retain their top talent. As adults, we have a tendency to avoid learning new skills and exploring new opportunities. While this is natural, it’s also something that you need to work hard at avoiding workplace changes like those experienced during the pandemic. Failure to do so can lead to your top talent seeking out training opportunities elsewhere or searching for a company that makes learning a priority.

A lack of collaboration: New technology is broadening the scope of tasks the workforce needs to engage in on a day-to-day basis. This new generation of work often requires different types of workers to collaborate and communicate with one another. In many workplaces, collaboration has been limited due to geography or time barriers. However, technology is making it easier to stay connected even when you’re separated from your colleagues and employers. Now, work teams are more likely to work together in real-time across the globe due to advancements in technology such as cloud computing, video conferencing tools, and AI chatbots.

The need for flexible talent: Companies have always desired workers who apply their skills and talent in different ways. But, in a post-pandemic world, this desire is quickly becoming a need. As organizations fight over the top talent on the market, workplaces need the support of cross-talented and skilled employees to help keep operations running smoothly. 

With upskilling and reskilling opportunities, workplaces can create a resilient workforce equipped to help pick up the slack in other departments when needed. What does this mean for today’s leaders? They need to work to find and create a workforce that is willing to go above and beyond the duties outlined in their job description. 

Hiring and retaining top talent: Retaining your best workers is a challenge for many companies. There are several resources that you can use to find the right talent, but finding individuals with skill sets that align with your company’s goals takes time and effort. Don’t waste any more time in your recruitment process by looking at outdated job descriptions. Instead, work with the right HR partner to find employees who have skills that are aligned with your company’s goals for growth and expansion. If you can provide these individuals with the training they need, there is no reason why this talent should walk away from a job opportunity at your organization.

Steps For Building A Future-Ready Workforce

For quite some time now, organizations have placed a hearty focus on preparing themselves for the future. Whether this is done through market forecasting, creating succession plans, or developing their employees to better perform in their given roles, being proactive is always a better move than waiting around to react to new challenges. With a rise in the competition for new talent, building out a future-ready workforce can mean the difference between an organization equipped for sudden change and one that falters. But, the question stands: what can you and your company do to create a future-ready workforce?

While each organization is unique in its structure, there are a few common things that can be done to create a workforce that is built to take on potential future challenges:

Define your skill gaps: A huge part of defining skills gaps is knowing what skill sets are missing from an organization. Part of this has to be predicting the skills needed for the roles for this changing landscape. Without taking the time to understand and clearly dictate the skills and kinds of workers your organization needs to succeed, your recruiters will struggle to find the right kind of talent for your open roles. 

Give your team the information they need to do their jobs successfully; be honest and straightforward with your expectations.  If there are skills that you or your team members wish to develop but have yet to do so, take the time to understand what it is about these specific skill sets that appeal and align with your goals. If you begin to explore ideas for developing new skill sets within the organization, this will only help solidify a future-ready workforce.

Did you know? 60% of organizations say they will not meet their strategic goals due to external skills shortages. Furthermore, 62% of employers say they experience skill gaps in their current workforce. 

Develop soft skills: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: hiring for soft skills is the best move you can make. Currently, soft skills are in high demand. While technical skills can always be taught on the job, finding workers who excel at necessary skills, such as teamwork and time management, will help you to source workers prepared to take on more responsibilities. These skills are often tied to how flexible an employee can be within a changing environment. 

Research has shown the toughest soft skills to find in candidates are leadership, communication, and listening. Additionally, the higher ranking roles require employees to have a higher percentage of soft skills in order to be successful in that role. By working on developing these soft skills in your existing workers and finding candidates with these skills in the job market, you can build out a workforce that is better equipped to handle disruptions. 

Work on developing your existing employees: Work on developing your existing employees: According to HLC’s research, the best way to close the skills gap is to develop current employees. This means investing in the workers already employed at your company versus trying to find a new employee with the desired skills. Not only will this save your bottom line and also save your recruiting team precious time, but it showcases to your employees that you care about their career and professional development.

Did you know?  The State of Human Capital Management survey shows that 45% of organizations lack the necessary workforce to compete today, and 36% say a skills gap is their number one challenge.

Taking the time to brainstorm potential future challenges for your organization, as well as defining exactly what new soft skills will help you move forward, will be the best way to source your next future-ready employees. 

Fast fact: Nearly 80% of companies are filling their skill gaps internally.

This is why developing soft skills is critical: 51% of employers say their top challenge as an employer is the changing nature of work. When we talk about future-ready employees, it’s important to know what makes your organization unique and how you will face disruption best.

How Can You Get Started?

Identifying the process needed to build a future-ready workforce is the first step towards creating a productive and proactive workplace. As job markets shift and the war for top talent wages on, managers and leaders need to identify solutions that can be implemented to better set their teams up for success down the road. 

One such solution is placing a strong emphasis on the skills in your organization. Whether this means developing the soft skill of your existing workforce or finding ways to close your existing skills gaps, managers would be remiss not to take time to refine the skills in their organization. 

The workforce is going through a significant transformation, with people now holding multiple roles over their lifetime. Understanding what millennials value and looking for candidates who align with these values will also prove to be a valuable skill when you are competing for top talent. Millennials look for companies that invest in them as individuals and show potential for growth.

Did you know? 65% of millennials want to learn soft skills in order to advance within their organization.

Employers who have invested in training for their workers show higher levels of engagement and satisfaction with senior management. As millennials continue to grow as a percentage of the workforce, businesses can no longer look at soft skills as something that is nice to have but instead must be developed into hard skills needed for future success. Think about why you have your current soft skills and determine where they fall short, where the gaps are, and where opportunities for development exist within your organization. Remember that as a leader or manager you can nurture change by offering opportunities for learning.

Did you know?  On average, developing a new competency takes 2 years and costs $30,000.

Additionally, workplaces can start building out a future-ready workforce by redefining their expectations and qualifications. It’s no surprise that getting a degree is a very expensive and time-consuming process. However, there are alternatives to this. Apprenticeships and developing competencies and skills are alternatives to getting a degree. By reducing the barrier to applying, you can expand your talent pool in a short amount of time. 

Did you know? 72% of employers want to develop leadership skills in their workers.

You don’t have to do everything at once, but if you start small and think strategically about the soft skill development needs within your organization, you’ll be on track for creating a future-ready workforce.

Finally, embracing technologies in your workplace and recruitment pipeline will help you to build more effective and efficient processes. Using technology is one of the top ways to mold a future-ready workforce. With many traditional business practices moving to a digital landscape, having a team that understands how to use technology to interact with one another and conduct business will help you to create a resilient workforce.

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Companies must also take advantage of digital communication tools such as video and instant messaging to enable the use of soft skills in both daily interactions and business processes. By doing so, you can refocus your workforce on outcomes instead of individual tasks.

As we start to see signs of recovery from the previous year, finding ways to capitalize on growth and better prepare for future disruptions will set your team up for success. The key lies in building out a team that is highly skilled, adaptable, and ambitious for personal and professional growth. The workforce of today is reversing the trend of lifetime employment and long-term career development. People are no longer looking to climb a ladder, but rather switch jobs multiple times throughout their lives. The workforce will need to become agile and be ready to learn new skills at any time if they wish to stay relevant. 

We are in an increasingly competitive landscape, where innovations happen more quickly and the pace of change is faster than ever before. If you want to build a workforce that can last for decades, it will require investment in developing leaders and promoting individuals who have soft skills like leadership, personal growth, collaboration, etc.

Caliper can help you to identify the best fit before you hire for an open role. With our science-backed assessments, you can quickly gauge the cultural fit of any given candidate, and see whether their skills and competencies are the ones you need in your workplace. And, with our precision series, you can work to develop the skills of your leaders and individual workers, creating a more talented and flexible workforce. Reach out to our team of experts and see how we can help you transform your workforce today!