Fast forward a year, and the world we now find ourselves in has changed dramatically. In fact, McKinsey highlighted that the rate of new digital products and services coming to market was accelerated by seven years due to the pandemic. And, for the workforce, this spells even more tech and data to grapple with. Not to mention, they’re also faced with a new working environment to navigate, too, with a new global report revealing that 72% of business leaders anticipate embracing the "emerging hybrid model” as lockdowns are lifted.
Why We Need to Be Upskilling Workforces in Data, Now
As we accelerate recovery plans, business leaders need to arm their employees with the skills to succeed in an increasingly digital and data-driven workplace. Upskilling employees in data is therefore critical but it now needs to be done in a more location-flexible working environment, too.
For businesses, training investments must go beyond just levelling-up their employees, so that they can tackle the digital and data-related tasks that already make up their day-to-day jobs. There also needs to be a focus on the future and how it will support their longer-term professional development. Why? Training is becoming the new recruitment battleground, and so leaders need to show their workforce that they are actively investing in their careers to avoid losing talent to competitors.
I’d also encourage everyone to explore more opportunities for self-directed learning, building on what started for many as a lockdown trend of learning new skills or completing on-demand courses.
There are a number of free digital resources available specifically for data literacy upskilling. For example, at Qlik we recently launched Data Literacy 2.0 to help drive the data fluency needed in a world experiencing continued digital acceleration. This includes over 20 online self-service data literacy classes and supporting resources for employees to upskill in their own time, split across two levels: Data Fundamentals to establish basic data skills, and Data Fluency to make confident, data-driven decisions.
Three Tips to Upskill in a Hybrid Working Environment
But, what are the best ways to train and teach hybrid workforces? Although it will vary for every business, there are a set number of principles that can be applied to most organizations:
- Identify Training Needs – First, businesses need to ascertain what skillsets are needed to empower their workforce. From a data literacy perspective, this will be figuring out whether an employee is a ‘data novice’ who needs to learn the basics of data storytelling, or whether they can fast-track to analytics courses on data-informed decision-making, for example. There is a free assessment on the Data Literacy Project where employees can discover their data persona and inform their specific training requirements.
- Tailor for the Hybrid Workplace – Once the training needs are confirmed, they need to be optimized for the hybrid model. For example, those with more advanced data skillsets may benefit from a mixture of in-office group sessions and one-to-one mentoring catch ups that can be conducted remotely, while data novices may need to start with onsite instruction, before progressing to self-guided training and on-the-job development.
- Harness the Right Tools for Delivery – Having established what is needed and how it fits with a hybrid model, businesses now need to find the tools to enable it. That might be virtual classrooms; self-directed learning through on-demand modules; or instructor-led, face-to-face training sessions – whatever it is, it will be determined by the best way to improve the necessary skillset while operating a hybrid model. What businesses need to be conscious of, however, is employees’ working patterns – asking someone who has already had back-to-back Zoom meetings to do a two-hour virtual classroom may not be conducive to focused, productive learning.
With the hybrid workplace becoming the norm for many, there needs to be rapid upskilling across the entire workforce for it to succeed. Being data literate can’t be a specialist skillset or limited to those with technical ability. Everyone needs to be fluent in data.
By integrating training opportunities into new operating models, and by understanding that responsibility for individual development lies with both the business and worker, companies can build capabilities, employees can improve skills and progress, and both parties can take a step towards making the post-pandemic workplace a success by driving data-informed decisions.