The world of work is changing at a head-spinning rate and opportunity for positive change comes in many forms. Smart organisations are embracing factors such as Brexit, changes in traditional patterns of employment, technological advances and shifts in customer behaviour to create robust, future-fit cultures. The future is arriving faster than many suspected or planned for but with the right knowledge and planning, HR and L&D professionals champion their organisations through transition to ensure change leads to success. To help you plan for the year ahead we’ve taken a look at the latest trends and reviewed what’s next in the world of learning and work.
Nearly 80 percent of employers in a recent survey reported that finding workers with the correct skills was their main concern for the coming year. Uncertainty over the effect Brexit will have on the labour market drives much of the concern. The British Chambers of Commerce, which represents thousands of companies, said that labour and skills shortages were likely to be the biggest challenge that firms face this year. It said companies need to invest in skills and advised the government to provide the certainty to encourage firms to spend. Shortages of skilled manual labour among manufacturers is the highest on record and firms report that managerial and professional staff are the hardest to recruit. Wales, the southwest and the east of England face the most challenge.
The skills gap provides an ideal opportunity for organisations to upskill from within and to develop people potential, growing a new generation of skilled workers. Many promising young people are overlooked for positions because they leave education without the skills needed for today’s workplaces. And many within a workforce are overlooked for positions because they do not appear to have the right experience. But people learn fast given the right tools, right encouragement and the right environment and so hiring and reskilling practices should increasingly look at potential, rather than experience. An organisation which has an embedded growth mindset culture, where people take responsibility to skill themselves up and where managers and leaders coach and develop, will have the flexibility to plug its own skills gap, without struggling to find those skills externally.
Last year we saw the start of a meaningful national debate on mental health and wellbeing. More than at any time, the subject was discussed openly and at all levels. Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge helped drive the narrative with their Heads Together initiative, which aims to change the conversation on mental health. Projects and schemes were launched in all areas of life, from the armed forces to schools and workplaces. The effect has been a mental health enlightenment in which organisations have started to realise that investing in wellbeing initiatives to look after their staff and ensure their happiness drives engagement and productivity. The Federation of Small Business even started a campaign to combat mental health and wellbeing issues amongst small business owners.
Mental health first aid. Organisations that proactively build wellbeing foundations into the fabric of their culture thrive. And resilience is one of the key drivers to wellbeing and happiness. A resilient workforce with embedded coping skills will remain robust and positive through change and challenge. Management are key to resilience. Managers and leaders skilled with knowledge of mental health techniques and interventions can develop better ways of working and develop people to be resilient as part of a whole organisation development strategy, not one-off workshops. Continued support and help will create a healthier, happier, more productive workforce. A reactive approach to mental health in the workplace will only act as a Band Aid, a well-being strategy needs to be in line with your business development strategy for the greatest impact. Laughology is now a provider of mental health first aid. This latest understanding of how to embed positive preventative steps to combat stress, combined with our expertise in psychology, coaching and unique take on happiness, resilience and well-being will help your people thrive in whatever they do.
With skilled workers becoming harder to find recruit and retain, the emphasis is on human value. Engaged, creative, motivated people are more valued than ever. For people, the opportunities to embrace new challenges and change work/life balances are increasing and managers have to adapt to this new paradigm, in which people enjoy more freedom of choice. Management-by-numbers does not inspire motivation and loyalty, it can lead to disengagement and loss of talent.
Forward-thinking managers and leaders that drive positive workplaces and workforces by making sure that people matter. The key is to develop people who value their organisations as much as their organisation values them. This is displayed through human leadership which develops organisations where people interact and are listened too and valued. For many leaders and managers, understanding people is a whole new skill, which is why Laughology’s leadership programme is so pertinent. Not everyone is a psychologist, but people can learn and develop individual leadership styles that include self-awareness, innovation and creativity, allowing them to develop fun and human interaction within their teams.
Smart companies understand that providing a comprehensive employee experience benefits everything from health and wellbeing to creativity, productivity and strategic thinking. Progressive organisations shift away from simple employee engagement to a more holistic employee experience approach. In 2018, its likely more companies will come to the same, more nuanced understanding of the impact employee programs can have on the bottom line. So, what’s the difference between engagement and experience? Engagement is something done to people – they are engaged through certain mechanisms, whereas experience is about creating a culture that people actively want to opt in too. An experience enriches the people connected to it. It is also about development and how an organisation and the people in it impact on the wider world through things such as social responsibility programmes that build links to communities and other organisations and engender a sense of belonging.
Expect a shift away from traditional forms of people management towards a more egalitarian way of looking at things. Employees will have more of a say in how their organisations are organised and how processes such as feedback are delivered. Silos will be broken down and departments within organisations will become more integrated. Diversity and inclusion will also play an increasing role. As the pressure for meaningful change continues to build, companies will need to adapt organisation-specific strategies to establish and improve workplace cultures. And this isn’t just a concern inside the organisation. Workplaces that take a keen interest in the communities around them and offer opportunities for people to take part in projects where they can make a difference really will create an employee experience and attract and retain talent.
Wage stagnation and increases in the cost of living mean that financial education is something half of employees have asked for help with. Research undertaken by Secondsight found that 67% of the working population receive no financial education from their employers. Only 20% of employees had a coherent financial plan and a third claimed to have only a vague idea about money management. Clearly there is a financial education gap which is even more pertinent given that this year all employers will have been required to have rolled out auto-enrolment workplace pensions.
Most employers do not provide financial education but there are freely available services to help provide support. The Money Advice Service and Age UK provide simple and easy to use on-line financial tools and the Open University Business School’s True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance (True Potential PUFin) provides a suite of short courses on personal financial management that are free for everyone.