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How Skills, Learning, and Culture are Reinventing Work

How Skills, Learning, and Culture are Reinventing Work

In the past six months, the world has seen the largest, most significant workforce shift in generations with entire industries freezing overnight, and, at the same time, the emergence of new industries and roles. The Skills Revolution is happening in real time with an increasing divide between those with in-demand skills and those who haven’t acquired them yet.  

As part of ManpowerGroup's Human Age Event Series, Skills for Now & Next: The Impact of Covid-19 on In-Demand Skills, Kristi Hummel (SVP, Talent & Culture, Dell Technologies), Ben Pring (Co-Founder & Leader, Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work) and Becky Frankiewicz (President, ManpowerGroup North America) discussed how the pandemic has transformed in-demand skills, the rising importance of resilience, empathy and wellbeing in the workplace, and how to reinvent work with a focus on skills, learning and work-life balance.  

Here are a few of the unique and inspiring insights from the conversation.  

The future is the present  

We have to recognize the moment and realize this isn’t a temporary phenomenon. We should orient ourselves to the technological age by recognizing the skills we need to thrive in the new economy and acquire them. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to access the knowledge and learning environments to stay competitive.  

The trifecta for remote work

Dell had a vast remote workforce already in place before the crisis, so they know a few things about what makes remote work successful.  You need these three things for it to work: 1) a culture that enables it; 2) a manager who believes in it; and 3)  the performance tools to measure it. That’s the trifecta. It’s not just about skills; it's also about productivity and making these 3 components work in harmony.

Every company is a tech company 

Progressive companies will use this moment to reinvent the future because they have no choice. At this moment we’re facing a huge existential challenge. Every company will eventually be a tech company. As big as tech was pre-COVID, we just got a wake-up call that tech is going to be even bigger post-COVID. As a society, and individually, we have to recognize that having the right tech skills, as well as the right soft skills, is imperative for adapting.  

Learning is a joint responsibility

There are more learning opportunities and communities available now than ever before.  Companies like Dell, for example, have their own internal skills marketplace. When workers formulate their personal goals, there is an abundance of available resources to get them where they want to go.  Career and skills development, however, needs to be the joint responsibility of both the employer and employee---with the employee willing to take ownership of their own career and skills development and the employer willing to support them on their learning journey.

 Heads up  vs. heads down work

We will still need the office. But we don’t need it for heads down work. We need it for heads up work. If you’re writing, coding, designing, reporting – the whole array of individual work, you can do that from anywhere. Everything else where you need a creative, collaborative experience will always be better face-to-face. This lets us reimagine the office as a venue for collaboration instead of a place you go and work alone on 9:00 AM on a Monday morning. 

Work is not a time or a place. It’s an outcome.  

Where, when and how people work can take endless forms. If people feel more engaged and connected to their employers, productivity will follow. Focus on building an experience where employees have a high degree of trust and confidence in their employer. Recognize that culture is not a physical building. Culture is inside people.   

HR runs right through the middle  

The HR profession needs to be front and center. HR used to be their own archipelago in a sea of different verticals. HR should run through the middle of the digital groups and the commercial business operation. They need to be embedded deeply into tech in order to better understand what motivates that tribe. The HR profession depends on visibility and understanding what makes people tick and HR will be squarely in the middle of the future of work.  

All the squares are the same size 

The pandemic has been a great equalizer. The democratizing effect of everyone working remotely means no one is inside the room and outside the room. We’re all in the same “place” on meetings. The CEO’s zoom square isn’t bigger than anyone else’s. This can foster a sense of belonging and a burgeoning sense of connection.  

It's not about having all the answers 

The basis of learning is curiosity. Even the most accomplished leaders are constantly learning. The CEO is also the Chief Learning Officer. When we recognize that leadership isn’t having all the answers, it’s having all the questions, we find new ways of thinking and reprogram ourselves to be more innovative.  

The Skills for Now & Next: The Impact of Covid-19 on In-Demand Skills webinar can be accessed on demand here