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Closing the Skills Gap in a Human Era

By Derek Irvine

Creating heart at workRecognize This! – The practices that make a workplace more human are also the ones that can position a company to successfully adapt to future change.

Many companies are struggling to keep pace with emerging skills gaps. This is according to a recent interview in Harvard Business Review with Cathy Benko, Vice Chairman at Deloitte. She points to the need for companies to move away from industrial-era practices, focusing instead on more fluid and employee-driven approaches.

Reading through the interview, it struck me that many of her recommendations reflect the rising influence of the human era on how companies can manage and grow their people in a digital age.

One quotation stood out in particular: “If you can convince your employees that they are deeply involved—and central to—the reinvention of the company, you can in turn spur engagement, productivity, and mutual success.”

By creating a more human workplace, businesses and their employees can be better prepared to succeed within these ever changing business environments.

The process starts with empowering employees to take a wider view of their work. For example, practices that help employees create meaning and purpose within their current roles set the stage for a deeper level of involvement and engagement within the company.

But this needs to be combined with a sense of the growth opportunities available, within the current role and within future roles that emerge as the organization shifts strategies. Adding this perspective helps employees see how their work contributes over the long-term, as well as the short-term.

Still, a more human workplace is more than the sum of empowered employees and growth opportunities. It is also the strength and quality of the relationships between those people, which extend beyond the formal hierarchy. This aspect becomes increasingly important as professional development takes on a more “latticed” structure – comprised of many multi-directional and dynamic career moves.

In addition to the growth opportunities provided, these networks combine to create perceptions of how the organization interacts with its employees. Interactions that are defined by a level of trust, transparency, and mutual responsibility can be powerful drivers of a workforce that is fully aligned and prepared to meet any challenge.

Energy and motivation can also be carried by such relational networks, spreading throughout the organization. This type of ground-up mobilization of the workforce becomes a key enabler of continuous change and development efforts, keeping a workforce’s skills and capabilities up to date.

To meet the challenges of the future, organizations will need to pay increasing attention to these uniquely human aspects of work – individual pursuits of meaning and growth, as well as rich interactions capable of creating mutual alignment and rapid change.

What is your company doing to help employees adapt to the changing world of work?

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