Why C-suite should have skills high on their people agenda


57% of C-Suite executives believe upskilling capabilities are a top priority for business transformation and almost half (49%) of professionals in our Annual Skills Survey reported that employers had increased skilling opportunities in the last 12 months.  As business leaders plan for the post-pandemic era, accelerated reskilling plans needs to be high on the priority list in order to create and sustain the skills necessary to drive your future success.

Resource Solutions’ Annual Skills Report uncovered that only 8% of professionals feel that their current employer sees upskilling of employees as essential. Furthermore, less than half (44%) of professionals cite upskilling opportunities being offered to all employees. McKinsey says that two-thirds of executives accept that '...corporations should take the lead in the development of the new skills required for the digital era, and 80% say at least half of all new roles should be filled by reskilling existing workers.’ While industry demands will vary, these statistics suggest room for many incumbents to become more strategic, improve the Employee Value Proposition (EVP), broaden diversity, and drive operational efficiencies.

Understand your people analytics

Develop outside-in thinking to help you design and build a strategic approach to skills in the 21st century. 42% of business leaders believe talent shortages will affect their organization's growth or profitability, yet only 9% have a defined plan for recruiting the skilled talent they will need. Only 18% of CEOs said in 2020 that they had made significant progress in 'establishing an upskilling programme that develops a mix of soft, technical and digital skills.’ Make sure that you have actionable data – both internal and external – as this will be a critical step in mitigating this. At this time however, only 3% of executives say they have the information needed to make sound people decisions.  This is perhaps unsurprising given that much of this data exists outside organizational walls and outside current metrics. Consider how you might acquire access to this vital information.

Calculate the ROI on upskilling your workforce

Assembling this data can help leaders build frameworks that better measure and account for human capital and prove the Return on Investment (ROI) of upskilling. To-date, employee value has often been intangible, leading to many organizations misjudging the contribution of their human capital. Those that look to change this - and scale their efforts- will arguably develop ‘...a better understanding of what needs to change to meet future business priorities (both anticipated and unanticipated)’  With it EVP, time savings, and cost efficiencies are all but guaranteed. 97% of professionals in our Annual Skills Survey are willing to upskill to stay relevant and employable in the future. L&D opportunities will probably become an attractive offer for a range of current and future employees.

Identify the skills you will need tomorrow and that your people desire today

Interestingly, the future skills prioritised by companies differ from those of employees. For the former, essential skills include leadership, critical thinking, and project management, while employees’ concerns revolve around digital – at 39% compared to just 21% who prioritise interpersonal skills. Employers' priorities could reveal an ongoing reckoning with the impact of the pandemic – in terms of how and where people work, for example – and the need to develop a more employee-centric environment. Interestingly, both employers' and employees’ priorities differ somewhat from others' views. One forecast points to three increasingly essential skills including futures literacy and broader strategic foresight, anticipation, and systems thinking. With regards to upskilling in general, notions of efficiency and strategy are closely aligned. With such a divergence of opinion it is vital that you develop a clear idea of the skills you will need in the future.

Consider creating a new role of ‘Strategic HR’

Explore where scarce skills might be found as they may be located in both temporary and unusual places. Discordant views from the edge – perhaps from an outside-in approach - will probably be needed to help the '...more than 90% of execs who say they grapple with increasing volatility in their markets. This volatility is already blurring organizational and sector boundaries. In something of a feedback loop, fluid talent from new places will further accelerate this shift. The role and culture among management and leadership will also need to evolve. A position could quickly emerge, for example, at the ‘...intersection of corporate strategy and HR, responsible for analysing what skills will be most essential as the workforce continues to evolve. This role would focus on setting the organization's design for the future of work and proposing the direction and scope of reskilling and upskilling efforts for current employees.’

Pivoting to the future

Consider, for both strategic and operational reasons, moving from a permanent workforce to a model designed around accessing skills and resources as and when needed. Build a data-driven strategy that encompasses the c-suite, third-party sources, and highly skilled individuals (permanent or temporary) will give you a clearer idea of what comes next. It will also create a more adaptive organization better able to satisfy rising EVP demands while lowering time or material costs associated with high turnover and missed opportunities.

Find out more about how today’s professional want to upskill in our Skills Report.