How to Leverage Tech to Future-Proof Your Staff’s Skillset
In today’s business environment, digital technology keeps everyone on their toes. While it may be easy to think that the speed of innovation is relegated to Silicon Valley or even large cities, the reality is that if you let them, robots will take over your workforce in only a matter of time.
Of course, R2D2 isn’t going to simply walk into HR with a resume in hand. But automation and machines have already begun to take over the menial tasks in your office that humans once did, meaning companies have already taken the first steps toward relegating staff to obsolescence.
The thing is, though, the automation revolution presents an opportunity to create a smarter, more innovative human workforce rather than destroy jobs. Here are four ways you can leverage technology to future-proof your staff’s skillset.
#1 -- Educate and Train Frequently
Keeping your staff’s skillset fresh when everything changes all the time is a tough job. Gone are the days when businesses could periodically hold training sessions that kept their employees up to speed with the latest and greatest for years at a time.
The main reason? As technology improves, it becomes more widely used, and as it becomes more widely used, it becomes cheaper. Not only for the product itself, but to operate. So, it practically becomes a no-brainer -- from a bottom-line standpoint -- to implement.
However, therein lies the opportunity. Most of the new tech has to be used, managed, deployed and, at least, monitored.
Plus, once it gets implemented, it needs to get updated. And with updates come new features.
At the end of the day, this entire cycle has to be learned by humans, and the faster the wheel turns, the more training is necessary.
The truth is, without making a commitment to training, education and patient implementation, you run the risk of turning your seasoned and experienced staff into dinosaurs -- slow, plodding, extinct and out of touch with industry standards.
Staying up to speed with the latest and greatest takes buy-in from the top down, and research shows that companies who adopt a strategy in line with the most innovative companies in their industry can be over 5% more profitable than those that merely maintain the status quo.
One of the easiest ways to get your employees started with learning new skills is to take advantage of the extensive pool of online classes, workshops and tutorials available to them.
Online education videos can be useful for learning new solutions for operations, accounting, shipping and any other area of expertise relevant to your industry. Plus, they are often very affordable, and many are actually free.
Some of the best places to find reliable online courses are lynda.com, which is affiliated with LinkedIn, and Coursera, which specifically markets itself as a solution for business training development.
Even the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, is in on the action -- they offer free courses ranging from IT to business and economics, among many others
#2 -- Be Empathetic and Implement Judiciously
When new industry trends emerge, it can be tempting to try to jump on the bandwagon as quickly as possible. But the reality is that even the most flexible businesses need time to strategize and rollout an efficient plan.
Plus, it’s important to remember that actual people are impacted by job changes -- not only machines, software or processes. People tend to bring their own feelings to the table that need to be considered. Think about how tough it would be for you to hear that the skills you use every day to do your job were becoming obsolete. Things like that can be life-changing for people, and transition should not only be handled with care, but patience as well.
The last thing you want to do is alienate employees as a result of poor transitioning because you run the risk of disengaging them, a costly result that could set your company back up to $50,000 per lost employee.
#3 -- Hire Hands-On Coaches
While encouraging your staff to take online courses and being patient with how new skills are implemented can help ease transition as jobs evolve, the best companies take it to the next level and hire firms tasked with hands-on, onsite training.
Skills development coaches are so valuable because they not only have specialized expertise in the skills they are teaching, but also the teaching skills to educate other people, an undervalued skill in itself that not every effective manager possesses.
Plus, studies show that hands-on training can be up to 75% more effective when it comes to knowledge retention.
While it’s true that hiring a firm to help train your staff requires you to make a little room in the budget, the cost is small when you stack it up against the alternative: hiring new employees, who not only have to be recruited for a hefty price, but trained anyway, if only on how to work within your organization’s infrastructure and workforce.
#4 -- Don’t Get Complacent
Unfortunately, even if you have done everything right and have seamlessly navigated one or two dramatic shifts in the industry with the crew intact, chances are it won’t be too long before something else disrupts the landscape.
Staying up-to-date is a full-time job that takes constant monitoring of what competitors are doing as well as how the market reacts to emerging products and services. At the end of the day, there’s no rest for the watchman.
Ready Your Staff for the Future of Your Business
Research shows that companies that invest in skills development and training are more successful and profitable. In fact, one study found that companies that have employees receiving the training they need perform 68% better than those that don’t.
Plus, those companies see 16% higher customer satisfaction rates, enjoy 10% more productivity from their staff and get their products to market 20% faster.
For a free consultation about how we can help your company future-proof its workforce, contact us at Info@DavidCouperConsulting.com.
Josh Espinosa is a freelance writer and designer. He also founded the Approachable Music project, a music education business on a mission to make learning to play easier and more efficient.