Agile and skills-ready workforce for a changing world

A recent webinar by Workday highlighted how a skilled and engaged workforce is key to building an agile organisation.
By: | March 23, 2021

Since the 2010s, human capital management has been at the stage of people enablement, which is characterised by the democratisation of work, data-driven technology and optionality in terms of changing workforce expectations, said Greg Pryor, SVP People and Performance Evangelist, Workday.

Pryor was speaking at a recent Workday seminar organised by HRM Asia, where he highlighted how a skilled, engaged workforce and innovative technology is key to building an agile organisation. To help prepare for a changing world, he advised organisations to adopt the following framework:

I – Improving employee inclusion and belonging

D – Digital acceleration

E – Enabling experiences for employees

A – Agile organisations

S – Skills imperative

And as skills is now the new currency of the workplace, organisations need to put in place a strong skills foundation to meet what Pryor terms as the emerging ‘human performance markup language’, in reference to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).

He explained, “Skills foundation is a central part of the human performance markup language and helps us forecast the skills required to create a business plan. It tells us which skills are trending, which skills are flowing in and out of our company, and what skills are available and where.

“It also helps us understand the value and impact of those skills on our business, how they help people progress through their careers, and when applied with human experience data, explains the engagement and commitment of those skills.”

Within the skills foundation, Pryor identified three key components:

Sensing skills: This includes identifying skills criticality and contribution, reducing skill atrophy and attrition, improving talent planning and optimising learning strategies.

Optimising talent: This includes improving hiring effectiveness, and employee performance, rewarding skills expertise equitability and growing critical skill strength.

Accelerating agility: This includes scheduling and aligning resources, accelerating work automation and augmentation, as well as curating workforce assignments.

Also speaking at the webinar was Rashmi Sharma, Global Leadership & Wellbeing Unilever, South East Asia & ANZ, who highlighted the importance of upskilling and reskilling as work undergoes a huge transformation in preparation for the future of work.

“How do we protect our employees from becoming obsolete and irrelevant in the new world of work?” she asked, highlighting how Unilever helps their employees understand how their roles within the organisation are going to change in the future.

“If employees want to stay in their current role, take the upskilling route. Otherwise, ask what other roles they can fill, and reskill them. It will very much depend on the individual and what they want to do – how they see their career and life planning out.”

Skills cloud foundation the new core of human capital management

Organisations were already in the midst of digital revolution when the pandemic hit. This disruption further accelerated the need for organisations to embrace digitalisation and created an urgency for change, and to operate at a higher metabolic rate. Jobs were made obsolete while new roles and skills requirements emerged at record pace.

According to Wong Pei Woan, Head of Solution (HCM), Asia, Workday, organisations that have yet to kickstart their skills journey should do so now, as she cited the successful example of Astra Zeneca.

Utilising the Workday Skills Cloud solution, Astra Zeneca launched an activity as part of their mentoring programme, where they conducted a company-wide talk about skills and encouraged employees to update their skills profiles. They then launched a multi-channel campaign called the career data challenge, where employees were encouraged to update information such as career preferences, experiences, qualifications and job history.

With Workday Skills Cloud allowing Astra Zeneca to lay the foundation, the company’s skill coverage surged from 14% to 70%, and has enabled talent to be moved into the right roles within the organisation to support key business initiatives.

Workday Skills Cloud also provides the key ability to understand the relationship between the words people use to describe their relevant experiences, knowledge or ability, Wong highlighted, before adding, “Nobody was really prepared for the profound, long-term consequences of the pandemic on the future of work. It has completely shifted how, when and where we work, how we organise the workplace and our workforce, as well as how we define the employer/employee relationship.”

Companies thus, have a responsibility to rethink their organisational and workplace structures, and to invest in their people for long-term resilience and success. More importantly, they also have the rare opportunity to reevaluate what leadership and transformation mean to them as they build a more human-centric workplace.

Wong concluded, “Organisations with a clear HR strategy around workforce upskilling and reskilling, coupled with the right foundational technology that lets you think big, start right and scale quickly, will find the winning formula to stay agile and emerge stronger.”

Click here to watch the seminar on-demand.