Preparing your workforce
for the future

Using the power of internal mobility and upskilling
to create, attract and retain talent

Donald Ross

Head of Learning & Engagement Solutions

Insight author headshot

Even before the pandemic struck, savvy HR teams were examining how to re-engineer their organisations to help them better survive in an increasingly volatile, unpredictable, and fast-changing world.

What we have seen during the COVID pandemic is a significant acceleration of that change, and some truly inspirational responses to how, when, why and where to work. We’ve seen a once in a generation change, that has turned on its head any preconceptions we have about the way we work, the likes of which has not been experienced since the Industrial Revolution.

As we emerge from the effects of pandemic, many employees are taking the opportunity to re-evaluate what they want from work and how they balance their home and work lives. In a recent survey of 6,000 workers by the recruitment firm Randstad UK, almost a quarter of workers are actively planning to change employers in the next few months as part of a “great resignation” prompted by a high number of vacancies and burnout caused by the pandemic. The company said it would normally expect up to 11% of workers to move jobs every year.

Compounding this issue for employers is the difficulty in filling vacancies caused by this increase in staff attrition. Sanjay Raja, chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank, said “analysis of official data suggests people are resigning at the highest rate since 2009” with “historically elevated levels of workers leaving the labour market entirely”. Employers across the UK complain of struggling to both hang on to and recruit staff. Redundancies in the UK are at their lowest level since the mid-1990s, while the level of open vacancies is the highest on record.

This data is supported by the CIPD Labour Market Outlook for Autumn 2021 which found that “The proportion of employers with hard-to-fill vacancies jumped from 39% to 47% this quarter”. In the same report, popular employer responses to hiring difficulties (outside of the obvious short-term motivator of – offer them more money) included upskilling (44%), hiring more apprentices (27%), improving job quality (20%) and recruiting more UK graduates (16%).

These issues are having a significant impact on UK firms to compete in a hugely competitive global market. A recent survey by Pearson (the learning and education giant) of 2,000 UK business leaders showed 21% of those polled businesses across the UK have lost out on new customers or contracts as a result of hiring challenges. Some 36% said they had not been able to expand because they could not find enough appropriately skilled people and 62% of those polled were worried about their ability to find recruits with the right skills for their vacancies.


So, what are organisations doing about it and what does it mean for HR departments?

Deloitte’s European Human Capital Trends Report found that 54% of leaders are re-imagining work processes moving forward, up from only 28% prior to COVID-19. More companies are re-evaluating outdated people practices in an effort to better understand their employees’ performance and engagement, as well as foster their development and growth. European executives identified “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill and assume new roles” as the most important factor in navigating future disruptions. Instead of taking a prescriptive approach to putting people into set roles, organisations should consider empowering them to explore the areas of work they are passionate about and equipping them to do so.

It is clear that in many cases, today’s employees are looking for more than they are currently getting and holding onto is turning out to be harder than ever. Employees are looking hard at what they value most, and seldom is it about money alone. What’s more, organisations need to remain agile so they can adjust quickly to ever-changing business needs and be prepared for whatever the future holds.


What exactly is it employees are looking for?

Topping the list are concerns about career development and growth. Employees want to reach their full potential. But when internal opportunities are difficult to find and the path forward is unclear, they can feel blocked and frustrated. A desire to continuously learn is a good thing. Leading companies know how to tap into it, building vibrant cultures that encourage employees to add new skills and push themselves to new heights.

What’s needed is a better way to connect employees to new opportunities – whether it’s finding a new and more challenging role internally, a supportive mentor, learning new skills, or even taking a fellowship to gain knowledge of a different area of the business. When employees can quickly access new opportunities and chart a way forward, a mindset shift occurs. People become more optimistic, and the organisational culture becomes more forward looking. This in turn improves employee retention.

Embedded intelligence is going to be essential to ensure that employees can explore opportunities that are meaningful and relevant. Many current technologies focus only on skills and job matching. I would argue that there is a need to embrace the whole individual – bringing important factors such as interests, aspirations, and learning preferences into account as well. The result is a personalised experience that guides each employee in the direction they choose, helping ensure that all employees have equal access to opportunities and growth.

This is where the latest AI driven Opportunity Marketplaces can really help, allowing employers to gain a clearer picture of their workforce, empower people to learn and grow, cultivate business agility and workforce readiness, make smarter and faster decisions to match people with relevant learning and career development opportunities and ultimately, create a happier, more satisfied workforce and improve employee retention.

If you would like to learn more about SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace join us on Wednesday 9 March, at 15.00 GMT for Engage Employees Like Never Before.

For further insights, check out the fabulous white paper by David Perring of Fosway on Using internal mobility, opportunity marketplaces and upskilling to future-proof your organisation.

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For more information on the SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace check out the following:

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Sources: ‘The great resignation’, The Guardian; Labour Market Outlook surveys, CIPD; The UK skills shortage is costing organisations £6.3B, The OU; Global human capital trends 2021, Deloitte.