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Development & Retention

The Path to Job Mobility

The reskilling revolution is here, and internal job mobility is your key to building a flexible, fluid workforce. In the coming years, there will be a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines.We’ve extensively researched the competencies needed for the unpredictable future of work.

In The Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum predicts this shift displacing 85 million jobs by 2025. The report further predicted that 97 million new jobs could be created by 2025 to accommodate the shift in labor.

The skills your organization needs are constantly evolving. But you can’t expect to find external talent every time you need to add new skills to your organization. Developing reskilling pathways to empower internal mobility is the key to unlocking your current workforce’s potential.

Organizations need employees who can thrive in digital environments and work effectively with non-humanoid robots and artificial intelligence. But if we want to foster flexible workforces, we have to provide the right infrastructure to empower job mobility. Here’s how to lay the groundwork for promoting career development and job mobility across your organization.

The Shortfalls of Predictive Learning Platforms

Predictive learning platforms can help provide clear direction for your reskilling efforts. However, you can’t let them drive your strategic decision making.

Learning platforms promise to track evolving requirements for talent in specific areas and predict how those requirements will change over time. They promise to kick into action to automatically create the training courses needed to develop your talent, but most predictive learning platforms haven’t been able to deliver on their ambitious promises.
 

It takes more than a passive learning subscription to identify skills gaps and internal opportunities for growth.

Before you can derive value out of these kinds of training and development platforms, you need to update job descriptions and your overall job architecture. This requires working alongside managers to determine the future-ready skills and competencies needed in specific roles.

Once you’ve identified the competencies needed for each job group or role across the organization, assess your existing workforce using both qualitative and quantitative measures. The results will reveal how current employees stack up against the competencies you need for each role. You might identify competency gaps in some places but find that you have overqualified talent in others.

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for job mobility, then bring learning platforms into play as a supporting character. Identify which learning courses will fill talent gaps and uncover career opportunities. Then have managers help direct top talent to the roles where they can have the biggest impact.

Learning platforms are vital to supporting reskilling and job mobility, but they can’t move people. Take the reins and articulate paths for job mobility at your organization.

Prioritize Core Job Understanding Over Expertise

Another misconception holding your organization back from achieving job mobility is putting too much stock in experience. Employers have traditionally required significant experience in a specific role to prove expertise. This meant that employees could not simply move into a new career area or even make a complete change in occupation without demonstrating many years’ worth of experience. But with jobs quickly  shifting, narrow expertise is becoming less valuable on the ground.

Previous experience isn’t the only predictor of high performance. Top talent with aptitudes for learning and growth can progress into high-level roles without years of experience. Job mobility helps you move that future-ready talent into roles where they can learn quickly. For high-potential talent, getting a solid grounding in a job area may only take 20 hours.

And you don’t always need a high level of expertise to perform the most critical tasks. For example, you don’t have to be a certified full-time accountant to learn how to read a profit-and-loss statement. Performance in a job is not solely dependent on the prior depth and knowledge of your skills.

Instead of looking outside your organization for specific expertise, look to promising internal candidates to fill gaps in talent. Identify talent with the core competencies needed to quickly pick up the basic, functional understanding needed to perform a role. A more comprehensive understanding — or expertise — may be honed over time, but it shouldn’t be a prerequisite.

Use your job architecture to determine the core competencies predicting success in each role. This will help you identify the right internal candidates to cross-train for that position. An employee with a strong aptitude for agility, for example, may excel in a role alongside swiftly evolving technology.

You already have an employee’s skills on record in your performance management system. That makes it easier to identify and select the right internal candidate to fill an open role. Additionally, internal candidates have already learned your organizational culture and values. Since internal talent is already acclimated to the workplace, they can dedicate more time to learning core job-related tasks.

Identify Core Competencies to Lay the Blueprint for Job Mobility

Job performance can remain high, even if skills and knowledge haven’t reached “expert” levels. That means that something more than knowledge dictates high performance. The secret ingredient is behavior. You need to identify the behavioral competencies that support success in each role across your organization.

These competencies are more important than specific technical expertise. Core competencies are broader than skills, and they form the foundation for all future learning outcomes. For many years, competencies have been the bedrock of professional hiring practices. Here at Aon, we’ve gone a step further to look for the competencies of the future.

We’ve extensively researched the competencies needed for the unpredictable future of work. That research led to a model of future, digital-ready competencies, including three core factors: learnability, agility and curiosity. Together, these competencies underpin future-ready behaviors.  
 
Your future workforce needs to seek continual self-improvement, be flexible in changing situations and express curiosity toward change. Luckily, these core competencies and behaviors can be found within your existing workforce.

Create an organizational map outlining the competencies you need to support evolving roles. Once you have core competencies in place, you can begin establishing pathways for job mobility. A completed job architecture generates data that places specific competencies at points where they’re most valuable. Match that data against the results generated from workforce assessments to help employees achieve better job mobility.

Aon’s Pathfinder platform identifies existing workforce competencies and matches them to roles within your company. Each employee fills out their work preferences profile and engages in gamified assessments to determine their biggest strengths. Once complete, their profile automatically generates roles within your organization that fit their competencies and interests.
A job mobility program improves engagement by helping employees choose where they can make the biggest impact at work. And that engagement is key to retaining talent. Top talent can exercise control over their careers and take on a greater sense of purpose within their career path.

Promote Accessible, On-the-Job Reskilling

In a rapidly shifting work environment, business leaders expect crucial learning to happen while on the job. According to the World Economic Forum report, 94% of business leaders expect employees to learn new skills while working. This presents a change from the 2018 report, when only 65% expected employees to master on-the-job learning.

Doubling down on learning platforms isn’t the solution to keeping up with the pace of change. Business leaders recognize that, to reskill quickly, employees have to apply learning in their work.
 

Job mobility provides an effective infrastructure for on-the-job reskilling.

Give employees ample opportunities to cross-train. Find the intersection of employees’ learning interests and their strongest aptitudes. Use the Pathfinder platform to match employees with the best opportunities for their specific interests and competencies.

The more employees cross-train, the more skills they can learn while on the job. Make it easy for workers to select job mobility opportunities and sign up for training alongside an expert in the role.

When employees have access to on-the-job learning opportunities, they feel more in control of their careers. The organization then reaps the benefits of a widely trained, resilient and engaged workforce.

Normalize Hiring for Job Mobility

What are the implications if we make this brave move away from the obsession with previous experience? Shifting to a model based on core job understanding and competencies opens up improved opportunities for internal job mobility.

In a tight labor market, companies can’t afford to reject a candidate based on their lack of job-specific experience. We need to normalize selecting talent with the best fit competencies instead of hiring for years of narrowly focused expertise.
 

Expertise alone can’t keep up within a constantly changing workplace.

If you’re hiring exclusively for specific expertise, your workforce will quickly become outdated. You need a fluid workforce that can adapt to new technology and changing priorities. Hiring for core competencies and job mobility is a more sustainable talent model.

Job expectations and responsibilities are shifting as we layer new technologies and artificial intelligence into our work processes. Hiring talent primed for job mobility helps you stay on top of change without sacrificing productivity or quality of work.
 

Aon

Aon | Assessment Solutions

Aon's assessment solutions provides clients with powerful tools and insights to help them make better talent decisions at every stage of the employee lifecycle. This includes pre-hire assessments, identifying future leaders, screening for digital skills and agility, and AI-enabled solutions.

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