Talent Development for the Future

Jacquelyn Soh
February 26, 2021

If building critical skills was a business priority for leaders before, the pandemic’s hard shove on digital transformation has made talent development a business survival necessity in 2021. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report predicts that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.

 As the nature of some jobs fundamentally changes and others simply become obsolete, people are counting on their employers to help them remain relevant and find their place in the future of work. Three features define a winning talent development strategy: personalization, scalability, and being future-facing.

Personalizing development at scale

We know that approximately 80% of employees desire personalized course recommendations or developmental guidance based on their individual career goals or skills gaps, and 54% of employees would spend more time learning if they had specific recommendations matched to their career goals.

However, companies are caught in a balancing act between the degree to which they can personalize learning and development (L&D) content, and the number of people who will actually benefit from the program. The dilemma boils down simply to a matter of resources. In the US, companies spend 35% of their L&D budget on their leadership team alone. This means most of the organization is not receiving that high touch coaching that studies have shown to be most impactful.

This high-specificity prediction engine too can be applied to how we serve up relevant development insights to our employees.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) opens up the possibility for personalization at scale. We’ve seen how Netflix suggests content based on each of our unique viewing behaviors, and not any self-reported preferences. Spotify’s music recommendations operate on the same principles of having accurate insight into our listening habits. This high-specificity prediction engine too can be applied to how we serve up relevant development insights to our employees.

To start, we need objective and future-facing data about our workforce. More specifically, we need soft skills data.

Developing future facing capabilities that will stand the test of time

It bears repetition that the turnover cycle for ‘highly-valued hard skills’ is accelerating. The technical expertise that most companies seek today, such as software engineering, data analysis, and cyber security, might soon be fulfilled by machines. New skills are emerging faster than trend lists can be published, one example being Blockchain which claimed the top spot in its debut. This rate of change underscores why we need to pay heed to more durable signals of talent potential like soft skills, even as we train for in-demand hard skills. 

Workforce planning aside, a development strategy anchored on future-facing soft skills also has an impact on the employee’s learning experience. Employees are expected to learn and unlearn new skills at an unprecedented rate. Reasonably, we should also be spending just as much time, if not more, honing their ability to adapt and tolerate ambiguity, apply innovative thinking to tackle new problems, and navigate the dynamics of shifting teams to facilitate collaboration.

Acknowledging that these soft skills are precursors to future-readiness is just the first step. The next is to be able to quantify them, level set on the status quo, and improve in measurable ways.

pymetrics uses behavioral-based assessments to objectively measure soft skills. Instead of asking people to self-determine their risk proclivity (among other attributes) for instance, 25 minutes of gamified exercises capture the data to reveal if they lean more cautious or adventurous. Neither side is better, it depends on the job. 

Every employee who completes pymetrics immediately receives a report on their attributes -- their unique cognitive, social and emotional characteristics -- and  insights into how they can maximize their strengths and pursue development opportunities. The report also follows-up with a worksheet to make sure the insights are actioned into outcomes. 

Managers as coaches

When deployed correctly, technology should not replace but enable managers to have better conversations. At present, development is frequently curtailed into performance review cycles where the balance of the conversation lends more towards what employees can do to better serve and perform in their role, rather than what the organization can do to meet the ambitions of their employees. 

pymetrics is designed to  elevate the 1-1 conversations between employees and their managers by clarifying with data how individual development paths can intersect with the company’s roadmap, ensuring everyone has a way to grow with the business. pymetrics’ Manager Resource Centre further offers guidance and best practices on coaching through future-facing behavioral strengths, which expands the aperture of what the employee has the potential to do unconstrained by their past experiences. 

Companies are at a decisive juncture: huge segments of our workforce are at risk of becoming redundant due to digitization and changing consumer behaviors. Yet the same forces are creating a talent crunch as we race to fill the skills needed for emerging roles. The solution is to empower the former to meet the gap in the latter. 

With a talent development strategy that is personalized, scalable, and future-facing, we can be sure to ignite the individual purpose within each of our employees, while sharpening the competitive edge of our businesses.

To get a closer look at our personalized talent development reports, get in touch here.