Navigating the new workplace: how all-round training and learning is the bedrock of future success

As HR leaders, it’s our responsibility to equip workers with opportunities that empower them to learn, adapt, support and grow, says Deb LaMere

Deb LaMere

From the rise of hybrid work to rapid technological developments and Gen Z entering the workforce, organisations are adapting to a new workplace reality. Amid these shifts, training and development has become a top priority for HR leaders. 

As workplaces grapple with economic uncertainties and digital transformation, the journey towards cultivating a thriving culture with growth opportunities has taken centre stage. So, how can HR leaders navigate the new workplace and empower employees through holistic training and learning?

Attracting and retaining top talent

Just three years ago, the pandemic triggered a shift towards remote work, prompting organisations to rethink their approach to employee engagement, flexibility and work-life balance. In fact, today, for many employees, remote or hybrid models continue to remain a norm. And while there are many positives regarding this shift, there are still challenges around collaboration, communication and learning. 

At the same time, Generation Z, who will make up more than a third of all employees by 2025, is also reshaping the workplace. This generation values purpose, creativity and community and expects to work for companies that align with their personal values. Providing meaningful opportunities that offer purpose, creativity and community are now critical for attracting and retaining Gen Z talent with fresh perspectives and technical skills that are in high demand, particularly in the technology sector.

The digital skills gap has also had an impact. Digital transformation has become an urgent business imperative for companies across virtually every industry. A recent survey by BTGroup found that nearly four in 10 UK CEOs and senior decision-makers cited basic digital skills as the asset that makes a young person most employable. With the competition for tech talent fierce, in addition to creating an environment that appeals to new recruits, organisations must also invest in upskilling current workforces in new technologies, such as AI, to maintain a competitive edge.

To attract and retain top talent in this rapidly evolving environment, business leaders must meet the needs and expectations of the modern workforce. This is where holistic training and skills development programmes become vital.

Make training and development ongoing

As roles morph in the wake of technological leaps, adaptability and continuous learning become the bedrock of success. According to research by McKinsey company, up to 375 million workers may need to switch occupational categories due to automation by 2030.

To respond to these changes, employees need to develop not only technical skills to meet the demands of their roles, but also soft skills such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and emotional intelligence. These skills are essential for navigating complex problems, working across diverse teams and embracing new opportunities.

However, developing these skills requires more than just formal training. It requires a holistic approach that integrates training with coaching, peer learning, experiential learning and self-study. It also requires a supportive environment that values curiosity, experimentation, feedback, recognition and autonomy, and aligns with the organisation’s vision, mission and goals.

For HR leaders evaluating training strategies, the following are some top programme examples to consider:

Stretch opportunities: Beyond formal training programs, HR teams can integrate learning throughout the organisational culture, particularly when new technological advancements are entering the market, which could cause high stress. With learning both the responsibility of the individual employee and the duty of the organisation, employees can be encouraged to pursue stretch assignments, give and receive peer feedback, participate in mentoring relationships and share ideas openly.

Self-study opportunities: Keep employees engaged and inspired with self-initiated study. Access to a learning resource library with e-books, podcasts and online courses that cover personal development, including soft skills, as well as specific topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), empowers employees to take control of their professional growth and gain a deeper understanding in important subjects they are curious about.

Surveys and employee feedback: Regularly surveying employees on their experience allows companies to get a pulse on performance and identify areas of opportunity.

Employee onboarding: The first day of employment is a crucial opportunity to introduce new employees to the company's mission, purpose and values, ensuring they understand the important role they play within the organisation. This helps to ensure each employee’s understanding of their role and importance to the organisation, while enhancing new starters’ experiences.

Targeted people manager training: There is no one size fits all when it comes to people management, but training programmes should focus on leadership empathy, navigating difficult conversations and creating understanding of individual employee needs. Additionally, demonstrating a commitment to developing not only current managers, but future leaders, fosters a more positive work environment for all.

The modern workplace will continue changing at a dizzying pace, driven by technological innovation as well as cultural and generational shifts. However, taking a holistic approach empowers employees to flourish amid workplace evolution and disruption. As HR leaders, it’s our responsibility to equip employees with the training and learning opportunities that empower them to learn, adapt, support and grow. With this, employees are sure to thrive in this evolving landscape.

Deb LaMere is chief HR officer at Datasite