Employee Wellbeing, Skills & Growth | Article

Keys to the Future Workplace: Upskilling and Wellbeing

Major companies like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and IBM are making big changes in the workplace. Here’s what they’re doing to change the future of work!

What’s the most important focus for future workforce planning? According to the Gallup at Work CHRO survey: Skills and upskilling. In addition, 84% stated their company’s investment in wellbeing solutions is increasing. Clearly, skills and wellbeing are two major pieces of the workplace, now more than ever.

During the Gallup at Work Summit 2022, Jeremie Brecheisen (Managing Director of Gallup’s CHRO Roundtable) was joined by Kathleen Hogan (CPO & EVP at Microsoft), Nickle LaMoreaux (CHRO at IBM), and Lisa Cheng (CPO at the Coca-Cola). They shared many insights into what they’re seeing and changing in each of their companies. Here are some key takeaways about how the future of work is shifting!

The Future of Skills

1. Rethinking requirements

Many job descriptions list the requirement of a college degree. Yet, 62% of adults in the U.S. don’t have a bachelor’s degree, so many potential candidates are filtered out even when they possess the job skills needed. Takeaway: Base your job descriptions around skills rather than artificial barriers such as college degrees.

Not only will you have more applicants, but the pool of applicants will also be more diverse. About 70% of Latinx Americans and 77% of Black Americans do not have bachelor’s degrees.

2. Utilizing global talent

The remote work world has greatly expanded the past couple years. With it has come the chance to hire people that live in different cities, states, and even countries. This opens an even wider talent pool. Employees don’t necessarily have to relocate to get a new job. Hiring people with various perspectives from around the globe is now an option. And people that cannot move (i.e. they take care of an elderly family member) have more opportunities.

3. Reframing growth

Traditionally, growth has been seen as vertical. It’s all about hierarchies and climbing the ladder. In many cases, true growth happens horizontally or zig zags back and forth. Growth should be a winding path of career exploration and experiences. Help your employees navigate the winding path. Give them a network of people and tools to prepare them for the next role. Most importantly, encourage them to see growth and success as a flowing river rather than a ladder to climb.

The Future of Wellbeing

1. Keeping sight of the social

Hybrid work can improve work-life balance, autonomy, and productivity. But there are some negatives to be concerned about. According to Gallup’s CHRO Roundtable check-in survey from March 2022, there are concerns about:

  • Decreased collaboration
  • Reduced cross-functional work
  • Impaired working relationships

These top three negatives are all tied to social wellbeing. HR and people leaders will have to focus on keeping social wellbeing up for remote and hybrid employees. Find ways for employees to collaborate remotely. Make time for virtual team activities to keep connections strong. Lean into a platform for daily recognition and engagement.

2. Increasing flexibility on-site

Not all employees can work from home. On-site workers deserve flexibility too, it just may look a bit different. Consider relaxed dress codes, increased sick pay, shorter shifts, and back-up childcare. An example of a shorter shift would be hiring a mother to work from 10-2. This increases the diversity of the workforce, fills a gap, and offers a flexible schedule for working parents. Other benefits like increased sick pay ensures your employees don’t have to choose between health and income.

3. Training for all

Most companies are training their managers on wellbeing programs offered. That way they can direct employees to the right program or right place if needed. But there is a lack of training for how to deal with wellbeing beyond that. Make sure your managers are being trained on things like empathy and vulnerability. While you’re at it, get your whole staff in on it. Peer-to-peer connections hold a lot of power! Sometimes a fellow co-worker can help an employee even more than a manager.

It all comes down to two words: Experiment and listen. When it comes to skills, it’s okay to experiment a little to find out if employees need to switch roles or reskill. Listen to them for feedback along the way. When it comes to wellbeing, experiment with different ways of collaborating and allowing people flexibility. Listen to your employees needs to understand how to support their wellbeing. Nothing is one size fits all, so experiment and listen!