How Investing in a Renewable Workforce
helps Future Proof your Business

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for agility, adaptability and resilience in the UK and Irish workforces. As we return to what will hopefully be a ‘better normal’, organisations will benefit from updating their thinking about how they find skills. Cultivating a ‘renewable workforce’ by investing in people instead of replacing those with outdated skills, means companies will avoid the visible and invisible costs of replacement. A culture of upskilling and reskilling will make the future work for everyone.

It’s our view that the future of work will be based on skills acquisition. Employers will treat their employees as renewable resources in which they invest. Individuals will future proof their employment prospects by embracing lifelong learning. To make this future a reality, there is a skills gap to be closed.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that 40% of workers in the UK are engaged in work for which they are not properly qualified and that the UK has a skills shortage in 21 out of 33 different types of subject knowledge. The misalignment between available skills and required skills is costing UK businesses £6.3 million a year in inflated salaries, temporary staff and training for workers hired at a lower level than intended.

If we are to manage the skills shift and mitigate a drift between a shortage in niche, in-demand skills and a market saturated with workers whose skills are redundant in the future working world, we need to invest in people.

Return on Individuals

The Adecco Group conducted a study with Boston Consulting Group across 5,000 employees. Our research found that while workers are generally optimistic about their ability to acquire new skills, there is a lack of systematic evaluation of the gaps between workers’ current skills and those they will need in future. What if instead of laying off workers with outdated skills or redundant roles, employers started to treat their employees as renewable, rather than replaceable, resources?

In latest white paper from LHH, The new ROI: A Return on Individuals, they introduce the concept of the renewable workforce. This is a deliberate, methodical effort to grow your business by enabling your employees to fill future roles. This means abandoning costly talent management strategies that lean on a ‘fire and hire’ approach and adopting talent enablement strategies that support movement from a replaceable workforce to one that is renewable. The white paper includes a six-point guide to assess and transform your workforce, covering hiring, learning, and restructuring.

Collaborating on the renewable workforce

At the Adecco Group, we want to lead by example. We have committed to reskilling five million people and to accelerate this work in the post-pandemic era. Through General Assembly, in partnership with Microsoft, we will re-train 15,000 workers in AI skills in the next three years. But businesses cannot to this alone.

Speaking at a virtual Credit Suisse event recently, the Adecco Group’s CEO, Alain Dehaze spoke about the link between work and education: “As the profile of unemployed people will change, so will the quest for sustainable employment solutions. This will require a massive amount of skilling, up-skilling, and re-skilling.” Closing the skills gap calls for collaboration between the education and employment sectors:

  • The UK Government can play a pivotal role by creating the appropriate environment in which education policy, employment and social affairs, the digital economy, finance, and even migration and integration policies are part of the same equation.
  • UK businesses understand the importance of giving their workers opportunities to acquire new skills but need to place greater significance on ‘soft skills’, such as resilience and adaptability, which will be better indicators of success than job experience.
  • Employees must see the acquisition of skills as a means of future-proofing their employment prospects. 59% of employees expect their employer to develop their training opportunities yet our research found a disconnect between employees’ willingness to acquire new skills and the degree to which they will take the initiative. We as business leaders can help them make this mindset shift.

Upskilling and reskilling are absolutely necessary to the future of our organisations. We have a responsibility as business leaders to find the right model to support everyone on their own up-skilling journey. A renewable workforce in which everyone is invested in the concept of lifelong learning will ensure market relevance, employability and therefore employment for all.

Download a copy of LHH’s The new ROI: A Return on Individuals