Motivate Employees to Reskill for the Digital Age

To successfully navigate digital transformation and help employees reskill as needs shift, HR leaders must reorient learning and development to build connected learners.

Is your organization in the midst of becoming more digital? The answer is most likely yes. Gartner research shows that 67% of business leaders believe their company will no longer be competitive if it does not become significantly digitalized by 2020.

As organizations determine how to digitalize their business, many are confronted with the reality that skills gaps exist in their workforce. According to Gartner research presented at the Gartner ReimagineHR conference in London, a whopping 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, and 80% lack the skills needed for both their current role and their future career.

If you’re nodding “yes” as you read this, don’t despair. HR leaders can help employees keep pace with shifting skills needs by evolving their approach to employee learning and development to focus on building connected learners.

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Closing the gaps

Building connected learners requires organizations to shift their approach to employee development in three critical areas:

  • Skills identification. Instead of prioritizing business leaders’ urgent requests, leading companies are identifying broader skills shifts in the market to determine the most pressing skill needs for employees across the organization.
  • Employee motivation. Rather than just communicating skills requirements, employees need to understand how they can personally grow by developing the skills the organization needs.
  • Learning solutions. Providing self-service development options can overwhelm employees; leading organizations are brokering quality development experiences to accelerate new skill development.

Read more: 6 Ways the Workplace Will Change in the Next 10 Years

“To compete in the increasingly digital world, companies must ensure that their workforce has the necessary skills for today and tomorrow,” says Sari J. Wilde, Research Leader at Gartner. “This means considering the skills that the market is calling for, and showing employees the personal benefit of acquiring these new skills.”

One global financial institution highlights personal benefits by framing its development messaging to relate to employees’ environments and experiences while focusing on career and personal growth. The company goes one step further and activates employee development via daily, 10-minute “micro-actions” geared toward specific self-improvement. For example, the company initiated a 30-day development challenge that prompts employees to reflect on aspects of their career while seeking feedback from colleagues.

The connected-learning approach increases employee skills preparedness by 28% to 39%

“Micro-actions are effective because they act as quick wins for employees,” says Gartner’s Aaron Kloch, Gartner Senior Executive Advisor. “In this instance, the company goes further by incorporating peer-to-peer connection in most of its development actions, using community connectivity to heighten employee accountability as well as value.”

This is one example of how leading companies are seeking to reskill and upskill their employees by transforming employee development programs. Connected learners, like Connector managers, foster meaningful connections to and among employees, teams and the enterprise. Organizations that succeed in shifting employee development to build connected learners can reap big rewards.

The connected-learning approach increases employee skills preparedness by 28% to 39% across the three main areas of employee development (learning solutions, skills identification and employee motivation), and employees who are connected learners are eight times more likely to be high performers.

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Gartner for HR Leaders clients can read more about reskilling the workforce.