This article originally appeared on Fast Company.
As the future of work shifts toward remote and hybrid arrangements, employees should be equipped with the digital skills required to succeed in the virtual workplace. Businesses adopted a slew of new software tools in the immediate switch to remote work. But it seems to me that little thought was given to whether the workforce had the right skills in place to make the most of these tools.
Despite the recent focus on an alleged Gen Z digital skills gap, the reality is that three in four global workers feel they lack the necessary resources to learn the digital skills they need to be successful.
To build a more resilient workforce, organizations should reassess their company’s digital skills gap and software commitments and create a culture of ongoing learning. Here’s how:
THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK
Understanding which skills are most important for succeeding in hybrid and remote work requires you to deeply reflect on your employee experience and assess what abilities are crucial for navigating entirely digital environments.
Salesforce’s 2022 Global Digital Skills Index identified the digital skills that are most important for the future of work. These include:
- Collaboration technology
- Digital administrative
- Encryption and cybersecurity
- E-commerce and digital trade
- Project management technology
Leaders should use this list as a starting point for identifying their digital skills gap—does your team know how to use all of your workplace tools to their full potential? Are there clear guidelines for how to share and store documents? Are they aware of cyber security best practices to protect accounts and sensitive information?
SEVEN STEPS TO CREATE A DIGITAL SKILLS ROADMAP
Keeping the digital skills from above in mind, your team can start to identify areas within each category that they need to develop. Then, follow these seven steps to document your digital skills gap and create a roadmap to address those needs:
1. Revisit your goals: Before making any changes, you should understand how digital skills influence your business goals, and how each team supports achieving those goals. Identify the skills that are critical to your company’s ongoing success and note any skill gaps.
2. Survey your employees: Survey your team to understand the challenges they face and their concerns about their readiness for the future of work. Provide opportunities for them to elaborate on their concerns and identify what skills they need the company’s support to develop. Supplement your surveys with one-on-one conversations between managers and direct reports, ensuring that each employee knows they can share their honest feedback. Specific questions to ask include:
- Do you have the necessary tools and resources to succeed in your role?
- How do you prefer to learn new skills or ideas? What type of resources do you welcome?
- What skills or concepts do you want to learn more about so you can feel more confident in your work?
- Are the goals and metrics for your success appropriate to reflect the work you do and the value you provide to the team?
3. Develop digital personas: Although every employee will have unique needs, it can help to group them into categories to streamline your initial upskilling initiative. Gartner has identified five technology user types that you can use or modify to reflect your team’s current digital personas. Use your employee survey responses to fine-tune the categories and develop distinct strategies to engage each group. Effective personas should assess each group’s overall workplace experience, willingness to adopt new technologies, and preferences for how they conduct work.
4. Audit your tech stack: As your team fields its employee surveys, you can concurrently audit employee digital experience across departments and roles. For example, how many tools do they use daily? How integrated are these experiences? What applications do they use the most and least? It’s essential to understand how each tool fits within the workflow and what purpose it serves so that you can find ways to consolidate tools where possible.
5. Invest in upskilling: With a clear understanding of your immediate employee needs and the tools critical to your business success, you can now identify the skills most needed to build a resilient workforce. Next, group each skill by category—such as creative design, digital marketing, sales, or artificial intelligence—and explore a mix of formal and informal training opportunities, such as investing in online classes for your team, providing job-shadowing opportunities, or hosting weekly “lunch and learn” sessions.
6. Create support networks: Team silos can widen your skills gaps and make it harder to identify ways to improve your employee experience. Develop support networks that encourage collaboration across teams, such as creating mentor programs or ongoing networking opportunities for employees to discuss their work, challenges they’re facing, and ways that everyone can better align. Providing a shared virtual office platform everyone uses, for example, can help build a culture of collaboration.
7. Build self-service resource hubs: You can solve many of your team’s digital training needs by creating how-to documents and guides that explain how to use your business tools and ways to overcome common challenges. Create guides for each of your business tools, starting with those tools that are most critical to your business success. Invite feedback on your resources and encourage employees to request new materials or edits as they encounter challenges in their work.
BUILD A RESILIENT TEAM WHERE EVERYONE CAN THRIVE
Every leader is responsible for setting up their workers for success in this new world of digital work. Every employee’s needs should be accounted for to ensure the effective execution of your company’s strategy.
Rethink your employee experience for a remote and hybrid world, and audit your workplace tools to ensure they still meet their intended purpose. By revisiting your company goals, speaking to employees to understand their unique needs, and creating ongoing learning opportunities, your company can create a competitive advantage for itself by emerging as a leader in the future of work.