Businesses are looking at all available options to managing their risks as a result of the ongoing slowdown and chain of uncertainties. This is not enough as the need is move away from defensive postures to transformative leaps. This needs to be done to remain in resilient mode.
The business case of upskilling has to gets its due priority. It was long overdue, and all the more so in the current context. With job losses soaring, the case of upskilling and reskilling will need a strong push at every level.
There are significant efforts required at the governmental level to intervene to review structural labor dynamics. The need is to do a deep dive into ways to reskill and upskill the labor force through reforms to address longstanding anomalies.
An upskilling push can apply to all, and this is nothing short of an emerging necessity. From manufacturing to services to desk jobs, there are varying needs to meet objectives of productivity, tech advances, tool automation, as well as rising demand for technical skills across industries. The construction, building maintenance and logistics categories have long been demanding skills upgrade.
It wouldn’t be amiss to start doing so now, given that cost-cutting and productivity surges are ruling business agendas. Upskilling and reskilling are becoming critical tools to optimize costs.
What will separate winners
Upskilling ensures the workforce have adopted new tech ways, leading to efficiencies and, of course, reduced headcount costs where needed. Post-COVID-19, this will be the differentiator for companies as the right mix of human resources and process automation efficiency will drive resilience. With the emergence of new communication needs, machine automation, upskilling is primed for take-off.
While this requires whatever investments can be diverted short-term, it will eventually ensure business continuity. Considering the current cashflow situation, such provisioning may be difficult. But how hard it may be, businesses have to get innovative on cost allocations and provide for this.
Think beyond redundancies
As an extension of corporate social responsibility, businesses have to minimize job redundancies wherever possible through reskilling across its workforce. Companies opting for layoffs have to be mindful of the “true” cost of staff cuts. While it may not serve the purpose of overall cost reduction, it can be handy to avoid higher layoffs.
Get on with it
Companies have to fast-track upskilling through one- to three-month programmes that emphasise self-learning and online support, which would also reduce the cost of engaging a third-party. It has to backed by sweeping changes to internal culture, with the leadership actively involved in making that transformation.
Employees need to be engage in upskilling as the next step towards their professional development and not just as a means to ensuring job security. There are multiple ways to connect upskilling costs to a return on investments as well as mapping direct financial benefits to employees.
Companies that can implement a complete upskill program stand to benefit long-term.
- Tariq Chauhan is Group CEO at EFS Facilities Services Group.