How to shape your own future in the digital transformation era
Agata Nowakowska has tips to help you build confidence in your job security.
Reading time: 4 minutes.
The fourth industrial revolution is well under way. As the World Economic Forum put it three years ago, “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.”
Investment in digital transformation is rocketing as organisations look to technology as a long-term route to success.
Many organisations are positively embracing the opportunities that change can bring, and in the process, looking to a future where new technologies will work alongside new roles and responsibilities for many people across the economy.
However, in some quarters, the potential impact of digital transformation on the workplace is met with Armageddon-like concern that our hard-won experience and skillsets will soon become surplus to requirements as technology takes over.
In an ideal world, more employers would recognise the economic imperative and inevitability of digital transformation. In doing so, they could not only support their staff through these changes, but they could take advantages of the opportunities it brings to nurture new skills.
As employees, it’s vital to acknowledge that we aren’t just passengers on this journey. There are many things we can all do to adapt our capabilities to succeed in the changing world of work.
It’s critical to make use of the technology and resources available to become lifelong learners
Here are some good ways employees can build confidence in their own job security while guiding their employer into the future.
Introduce leaders to continuous, on-demand learning
It’s incredible how many organisations – that seemingly consider themselves modern – still subscribe to archaic professional development methods, like annual reviews and day-long workshops.
In an always-connected world, there are much faster, easier, cheaper and more effective ways to learn in the workplace.
Employees should encourage their leaders to consider committing to ‘lifelong’ learning through continuous, on-demand, personalised learning platforms.
This style of learning enables individuals to access the training necessary for their particular role, giving each employee a sense of ownership and control over their value and future employability.
Short snippets of content also provide far greater focus in an era of constant distraction.
For example, those of us that work in the learning and development industry have seen first-hand that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module – long enough to convey an important lesson, and short enough to sustain interest so the facts are retained.
The continuous nature of online learning is also vital for digital transformation due to the need for constant up-skilling and reskilling.
Regardless of whether an employee is supported to learn by their employer or not, free online learning resources are a great addition to any professional development toolkit.
YouTube, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), TED Talks and many other channels can offer a wealth of specialised knowledge.
A good way for individuals to make use of these is to identify two or three skills at a time in which they feel ‘lacking’ – or that simply ignite their curiosity – and commit 10 minutes a week to explore content on the topic. It could be as simple as watching a short YouTube tutorial every Monday before getting stuck into the week.
Whatever the approach, no learning is ever wasted, and the more one does, the more confidence builds for the future.
Make use of SaaS applications
Another way for employees to ensure their skills keep pace with technology is to use it – and often. There are so many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools available to encourage workplace efficiency that don’t require the approval of an employer or financial outlay.
It might be cross-team communication tools such as Slack, or workflow organisers and project management tools like Asana or Trello. But when employees take charge and start using these – and prove their success – employers are encouraged to follow suit.
Taking the initiative to apply current technology is also great learning itself, ensuring ‘future skills’ such as collaboration and teamwork become part of daily processes.
Start a conversation
For employees who get nothing more than an annual review from their employer, it is important they use this time to start a conversation about their role and the future.
How do they intend to upskill the workforce, transition people into new roles and modernise the business, for example?
It’s possible that these conversations will encourage the employer to reflect and become a catalyst for change.
But, if an employer really is entrenched in that very traditional approach, it’s better to know now and perhaps put a plan in place to move to a more progressive organisation.
Ultimately, employees should not allow a fear of the future or an ‘old school’ employer to stand between them and their career ambitions. It’s critical to make use of the technology and resources available to become lifelong learners, improve their daily work practices today, be vocal, and pave the way for an exciting and fulfilling future.
About the author
Agata Nowakowska is area vice-president at Skillsoft
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