HR’s Most Critical Role Is Reskilling The Workforce For A Post COVID World

As preoccupied as human resources professionals may be with planning the reopening of offices and factories, they can’t afford to ignore the need to retrain and reskill workers says the CEO of one of the world’s largest HR organizations.

“Every HR officer should look at their talent needs and become a chief reskilling officer,” says WorldatWork CEO Scott Cawood.

In a commentary for HRDive, Cawood said the need to retrain the nation’s workforce for the digital economy was clear long ago, yet businesses were slow to take action. “We tripped, and stumbled, and then a global pandemic pulled the rug out from under us. We need to get back up, and fast.”

The COVID-19 crisis only accelerated the computerization and automation that was replacing rote work and changing the nature of millions of jobs, he says. Now, as workplaces begin to reopen, many returning workers will find them a very different place transformed not just by hygiene considerations, but “by the sweeping changes that were already in play and now accelerated.”

“Post COVID-19, every organization and role will feel a bit different and multiple roles will need to be tweaked,” Cawood says, making resilience and reskilling “critical competencies” for companies to be successful.

Sending workers to occasional training classes isn’t enough anymore. “We must bring the reskilling inside our workplaces,” he says, insisting reskilling must be made “the new normal every 6 to 12 months.”

The responsibility is HR’s. “HR leaders will need to steer companies right into the face of disruption without hesitation or remorse,” Cawood declares. “Instead of focusing on job descriptions, performance reviews and annual incentives, HR leaders can take the time right now and build new thinking, new capabilities, and new strategies, and plan to invest in reskilling now.”

Acknowledging the important role HR has in reopening workplaces, Cawood says “’t has an even bigger role to play in the massive reskilling of workers.

“Perhaps,” he says in closing, “This is a unique opportunity for HR to have its truest and most significant moment and do both?”

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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