Until the last few decades or so, it was all about positions and job descriptions in terms of how organizations framed work, established compensation, and pulled levers in talent and workforce transformation spaces. These days, accelerated by the pandemic, the fundamental unit of work is no longer jobs. Rather, it’s skills. By putting the focus on skills, organizations can modernize the link between work and talent — and become more agile along the way.
If you’re just getting started with skills, here’s what you should know.
Since skills have become the chief way to think about work – you want people in place at the right time capable of doing the work. Therefore, it’s important for HR to craft sufficiently nimble, timely, and current skills programs that can use skills evaluation, reskilling, and employee development to buttress their organizational strategies.
Skills can be used to establish skills-based development and learning objectives and to gauge performance in accordance with the exhibition of such skills.
Why are Organizations Turning to Skills?
The momentum away from talent management and toward skills-based operations has been gaining speed for some time. But the uncertain economy the pandemic has wrought has resulted in a tight labor market. In response, organizations are pivoting away from the traditional hierarchical, jobs-based model, toward a strategy that matches skills to work.
Note that this emphasis on skills is nothing new; it’s the advancement of technology that has paved the way for skills-based companies. Right now, for instance, artificial intelligence can draw inferences, validate, quantify, and organize skills in a way that wasn’t previously possible.
What are Skills-Based Organizations?
The emergence of skills-based organizations has upended the old talent management approach. Such organizations put the focus on workforce skills rather than jobs, placing people at the center of work, and becoming more agile. Such organizations are also more democratized in terms of opportunity, as well as more technologically forward.
How to Begin with Skills?
Mercer, the leading global HR consultant, suggests taking these fundamental steps toward getting started with skills:
Establish Your Position
You’re going to need top leaders and other stakeholders on board with this organization-wide transformation, and fully knowing how to utilize a skills framework will help you establish your case. When making your pitch, areas of focus can include employee attraction and retention, workforce agility, and establishing a learning and development environment. Your presentations can be both general in nature and specific, the latter perhaps reserved for certain segments.
Be sure to include tracking and learning management systems and other technology that you’ll need for implementation. That includes learning and presenting implications and requirements.
Identify Skills Needed
Track consistent, verifiable skill sets to current jobs to identify the skills you’ll need now, and in the future. Doing so will allow you to, in entirely new ways, manage talent for their business capabilities.
The key, however, is to have the proper skills data. That’s why some companies that do not have good data or have a relatively new job framework will first tidy up their job titles and offerings.
Further, because the skills space is always evolving, with new skills emerging and others becoming outdated, you must locate the data that will best suit your needs. Mercer, for one, offers an expansive skills data library that is popular with organizations. Just remember, you and other stakeholders will need the technology to store, maintain, and interact with such a library.
Use a Skills Framework in Your Presentation
After the library’s been put in place, next up is linking skills to current programs, processes, and IT systems. You likely will need to use the systems you have now to establish skills in technology and apps within said processes.
Skills can be used across human resources programs and jobs. For example, skills can play a major role in screening and evaluating talent and can establish skills-based learning and development targets. They can also be used to ultimately engage in workforce reskilling.
In addition, skills can be employed to mitigate bias in decision-making and promote broader diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
In the end, getting started with skills means understanding that the overarching goal is an agile organization that fuels talent with skills data. More and more, organizations realize that they need to reimagine how they define work to keep up with the modern business environment.