Supporting Employees Through Transformation and Change

Clarissa Cyrus, SilkRoad Technology
Article by: Clarissa Cyrus

Business leaders are moving beyond the perception that workers are easily replaceable by an endless pool of talent.

Today’s environment has caused business leaders to view their talent through a different lens. Now, they view employees as renewable rather than an expendable resource. Upskilling and reskilling have come to the forefront of every talent strategy as needs and strategies have shifted due to change and disruption. When leveraged together, upskilling, reskilling and talent mobility allows organizations to maximize their current workforce potential, enabling employees to take on new responsibilities or roles when they need them.

Upskilling and reskilling defined

Upskilling involves building on existing knowledge and skills. It allows workers to take on added responsibilities or move into higher-level roles. Organizations can expand their capabilities and employability, often using learning and training tools and performance management such as feedback, goals and succession planning to fulfill a changing workplace’s needs. Ongoing upskilling is vital for employee retention, career development and organizational success.

Reskilling prepares employees to take on entirely new roles by training them on a wholly different skill set. If you have dedicated staff that you don’t want to lose, reskilling may be the best solution. For example, if an organization is shifting from a manual to an automated process, then reskilling and training the workforce on the automated process is a winning proposition for both the workforce and the organization. Both employees and the organization benefit from continuity, engagement and the retention of institutional knowledge, intellectual property and customer service levels.

Driving successful change

Keeping in mind that research has shown that only one-third of change initiatives succeed, providing the right guidance to employees throughout organizational transformation is extremely important. Once organizational change and transformation have begun, transparency of its success (or failures) is essential for workers to maintain adoption and engagement. Business leaders should make sure communication is constant during the process; align teams to the new strategy; make sure all employees are updated on new policies, procedures and all changes are well-documented and transparent. Leadership teams should conduct a thorough review and analysis of the human capital talent within this organization. If reskilling or upskilling employees is necessary, provide the appropriate training opportunities to them, reset goals and expectations and engage them through transitions into new roles. Developing employees can take the form of job shadowing, mentoring, cross-training, in-house or external training programs, online courses, tuition reimbursement, etc. With appropriate change management support, employees do not need to be left behind or transitioned out of the workplace.

 

According to Deloitte’s research, only 6% of organizations believe they excel at moving internal employees around.

 

Providing workers with career paths as part of your workforce transformation communicates to employees that the organization also has the employee’s best interests at heart. A leader offering advice to their employee on how to progress their career can make a big difference. Business leaders can only help employees develop their career path by knowing their goals, talents, and career struggles. This understanding will help leaders avoid pushing them towards a professional path that could fail. A proactive talent mobility strategy reflects the organization’s faith in their career potential and prevents them from seeking opportunities elsewhere. Workforce transformation does create uncertainty in workers; therefore, workers must be reassured the organization is investing in their development and success along with the organization’s success.

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Workforce transformation is about creating the ability and agility of an organization to work in fundamentally different ways.

Supporting Employees Through Transition and Change

When an employee accepts a new role in the organization, they must receive appropriate support during their transition. Employers should provide a clearly defined development/transition schedule, which outlines when tasks will be assigned. If a colleague will help train the transitioning employee, make sure the colleague has the appropriate skills to provide the relevant training. Remember, not everyone is adept at training others, and the wrong trainer can result in the transitioning employee’s failure. As their manager, make sure to be available to your employees. Be sure to take some time out of your daily work to be available for the transitioning employee. Be aware of the specific tasks, clients, or actions that will be part of the transitioning employee’s responsibility to understand and respond to any employee’s challenges. Set expectations for the new role and communicate them very clearly to the employee, ensuring these expectations can be modified as necessary for successful adoption. Going into a new role well informed and well prepared will make it easier, not only for the employee but also for the organization. This preparedness level will allow the employee to adapt to their new position more quickly and will have an overall impact on the organization’s success.