Guide to nurturing talent during workforce transformation

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat
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Transformation isn’t a buzzword—it’s a business necessity. From market convergence to global talent shortages to the rapid proliferation of AI, businesses are on the receiving end of several profound forces of change. 

Rather than sticking with legacy systems and “tried-and-true” tactics, leaders must embrace innovative tools and strategies to equip their workforces with the skills and flexibility that our new working world demands.

Now that most executives recognize that change initiatives will be crucial for their business’s long-term success, it’s up to these leaders to come together to architect and implement transformation strategies that will empower their entire workforce to overcome tomorrow’s challenges.

What is a workforce transformation?

Workforce transformation is the process by which organizations enable their employees to adapt and excel within their business as it grows and changes. Typically, this process involves acquiring and developing talent to ensure people’s skills align with their organization’s business priorities. 

Workforce transformation has many components, including strategic hiring and internal mobility practices, upskilling and reskilling employees, and redeploying telnet to meet emerging challenges. Organizations should incorporate their workforce transformation-related goals into their L&D initiatives to ensure everyone has access to a breadth of growth opportunities that will allow them to excel in their jobs while expanding their skill sets and improving overall wellbeing. 

What are the pillars of workforce transformation?

Generally, workforce transformations focus on making significant changes in the following areas of the business:

#1. Skills
Strategic skills transformations describe change initiatives that are rooted in the capabilities organizations will need to be successful in the future and bridge any knowledge gaps that may hold their business back.

Designing and implementing a large-scale skill-building program is challenging and often comprised of three components: assessing potential knowledge gaps, developing a skills strategy, and reimagining infrastructure for skilling at scale. According to McKinsey, when organizations implement all of these practices, respondents report a nearly 100 percent chance of having a successful transformation—2.5 times higher than the success rate for organizations that failed to implement at least one of these practices. 

As knowledge gaps continue to pose a growing threat to business success, many leaders are stepping up their skills transformations. If companies don’t have the skills needed to complete high-priority projects efficiently, their bottom line will fall flat. Given how fast technology is advancing, employees must constantly learn new skills to stay employable and help their organizations drive impact. 

#2. Digital
Digital transformation involves changing the technology and information systems employees use, often with the goal of improving efficiency, cutting costs, or helping the business unlock agility. During a digital transformation, most organizations will incorporate new software platforms and eliminate outdated or superfluous ones as needed. Digital transformation gives employees the tools to succeed and align with their company’s mission and values while helping the business meet enterprise-wide objectives.

#3. Cultural 
Cultural transformation is an evolving and developing process of shifting your company’s culture, often by rethinking your mission and values and sharing these changes with your workforce to inspire people to unite around them. A cultural transformation takes an introspective look at your organization and makes changes to your policies, commitments, processes, and behaviors so they reflect the values and beliefs of your leaders and employees. 

The result of a successful cultural transformation process will be that your employees know what your organization does, what defines it, and what distinguishes your company from other organizations. 

The importance of workforce transformation for your organization

Businesses must evolve their strategies to adapt to the forces of change that hallmark our new era of work, including market convergence, shifting consumer demands, and the rise of AI and automation.

Emphasizing the skills component of workforce transformations will be particularly imperative to put a stop to the talent shortages that many companies are currently grappling with. Nearly 70% of employers report difficulty finding talent with the skills they are looking for, reflecting a steady increase since 2021. 

While many companies are embarking on journeys to help their people hone critical capabilities, not all skills strategies are created equal. McKinsey’s research points to a large-scale programmatic skills transformation as the most impactful type of initiative, with between 71 and 90 percent of organizations that take this approach reporting a positive impact on their ability to realize company strategy, improve employee performance and satisfaction, and bolster employer branding. 

4 strategies for successful workforce transformations

If you’re looking to take your organization’s workforce transformation to the next level, here are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

#1. Evaluate workforce skills 
Before businesses can embark on an impactful transformation journey, leaders need an understanding of what skills they are currently working with. Executives must have a comprehensive picture of their people’s capabilities, which isn’t always easy to come by because skill information is often siloed among different HR systems.

To make matters worse, skills taxonomies are often out of date, leading to skill-building strategies that might not reflect the actual needs of the organization. Companies that are looking to level up their transformation efforts are turning to skills intelligence tools like Gloat’s Skills Foundation to gain visibility into all of their peoples’ capabilities. These systems are updated in real-time and pull from a worker’s LinkedIn profile or CV, in turn capturing the full range of expertise they’re bringing to the table.

#2. Craft an engaging employee experience
The success of any workforce transformation depends largely on your employees’ engagement and buy-in. While workforce transformation does result in a more positive employee experience in the long run, opportunities to improve engagement must be prioritized throughout the transformation process. 

As employee experience improves, workers will feel more optimistic about their future at the company and more closely connected to the organization’s mission and values. To accomplish this, transformation leaders should provide wellness resources and information and find opportunities to build personal connection, trust, and flexibility. Overall, the experience of workforce transformation should be positive for all employees 

#3. Embrace changes in technologies and processes
The most visionary leaders understand that keeping their fingers on the pulse to uncover the latest technological innovations is crucial for the long-term succes of their businesses. Legacy approaches underpinned by manual tools won’t cut it in our Post-Industrial era of work, which is hallmarked by ongoing change and an accelerated pace of innovation. 

Rather than sticking with obsolete systems and processes, executives must push the boundaries for improvement and take stock of the resources they’ve got available to support various change initiatives. Many leaders are exploring a new generation of AI-powered talent management tools to gain an in-depth understanding of the skills their workforce has and how they can be strategically reallocated to overcome emerging challenges.

#4. Encourage cross-functional collaboration
Even the most talented teams benefit from working with employees from other departments because these workers will bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to various projects. Leaders should be committed to rethinking work processes to empower employees from various groups to come together to collaborate on shared priorities.

Companies should also provide employees with ample support mechanisms to charter, bring together, run, and disassemble teams at scale. To facilitate this agile creation of cross-functional teams, many organizations are turning to talent marketplaces. These platforms enable hiring managers to post a project and get matched with employees whose skills and capacities align with what they’re looking for.

Looking ahead: the future of workforce transformation

Now that 80% of companies are kicking their transformations into overdrive, it’s up to leaders to architect strategies that get tangible results. That means executives must look beyond changing one component of their operating models and instead consider every element that goes into a successful transformation.

Skills are a priority but they must be part of an overarching transformation vision in which the organization’s culture changes to encourage employees to take on projects and gigs within various parts of their company. At the same time, many businesses introduce new technology as part of a digital transformation, including the implementation of tools designed to facilitate more agile ways of working such as talent marketplaces and skills intelligence tools.

To learn more about how one leading company harnessed a talent marketplace to turn its transformation vision into a reality, check out Seagate’s case study.

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