The first HR One Breakfast of the year took place on March 25, 2021 – in a fully digital setting –, and featured several expert speakers who focused on the topic of Upskilling and on how to build cross-disciplinary competencies. They also discussed the ever-growing need of developing leadership skills.
“Making upskilling & reskilling a priority” was the name of the first keynote speech of the day, delivered by Inès Baer (Future Skills Initiative Manager, ADEM). First, she listed the different trends that are currently affecting skills demand (economic, technology, changing customer expectations, regulatory, etc.) and explained that it was actually accelerated by the pandemic. “Jobs are therefore affected: some emerge, and some are transformed,” she explained, before adding that “other factors are affecting skills availability, such as demographic trends, mobility opportunities - roles, jobs, sectors, companies - , Talent attraction, retention & activation - as a country and as a particular sector or company - , as well as education & learning opportunities, also through adult education”. Inès Baer then focused on the local skills gap and underlined that fact Luxembourg experiences a skills mismatch of 51%, according to the 2018 European Skills Index, and that the declared job offers often do not match with the profiles of the job seekers: 27% of vacancies remained without a match in 2019. “We need to provide targeted opportunities for lifelong learning and that is where upskilling and reskilling come in. According to the World Economic Forum, the most demanded skills are active learning, critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, social relationship building and emotional intelligence. It consists in Human skills that are difficult to automate”, highlighted the expert. She then described the Future Skills Program initiated by Adem, which contributes the country’s strategy to upskill the job seekers and therefore facilitate the job search. “To identify the needs and who to upskill, it comes down to having the right data: what skills are needed? Where are the skills gaps? What skills do employees already have? We faced several challenges when it comes to data: it might not be qualitative, not comprehensive enough, etc. Then, collaboration is key between the government, social partners, private companies, etc.” she added. To conclude, Inès Baer explained that it only makes sense if private actions are taken: ‘it needs to start with a good workforce planning process, a training strategy and actions. Communicate these initiatives to employees and support them. Moreover, it requires dealing with a variety of service providers. It is therefore important to connect the entire ecosystem”.
Ludivine Martin (Research Scientist, LISER) then took the virtual stage and focused on the DIGITUP (Digital Upskilling in a Telework Environment) program, which is supported by the FNR, University of Luxembourg, ESSEC, and several other players. “The research started in a context of massive shift to telework after the first lockdown one year ago. It was a new experience for 75% of the workers. We also saw a boom of digital tools. Moreover, the digital transformation of business did not stop during the lockdown,” explained the expert. Through her research, she noticed a drop of job ads, but on the other hand, firms needed more data privacy and security experts. The DIGITUP project aimed at answering several questions: it focused notably on the impact of the Covid-19 first lockdown on the use of digital tools among teleworkers, and, whether or not, these tools helped teleworkers improve their digital skills. Five user profiles were established through the use of data after analyzing the number of digital tools used and the intensity of usage: some did not use them often, some discovered several new tools, others had to use them daily, etc. “Out of these five groups, three really increased their digital tools. These three profiles are therefore linked to digital upskilling. The discovery of new digital tools was therefore beneficial for teleworkers as well as for companies,” explained Ludivine Martin. In terms of satisfaction and productivity, the use of web conference tools compensated the lack of face-to-face interaction. She concluded: “it has managerial implications: they should encourage the resort to digital tools that compensate the lack of interactions, spread good practices (the reasonable use of digital tools and its good management in order to avoid drawbacks such as infobesity, addiction, hyper connectivity) and should propose training programs to these who struggle with digital tools use”.
The organizers also welcomed Guy Kerger (Founder & CEO, MindForest), who stated right from the start: “change management is everyone’s business. At MindForest, we believe that change management is a central competence everybody has to have in the company, when dealing with people. It is not just a nice add on. It used to be used only in specific projects, but today, change is coming at a faster path. When there is change, you will lose money because it takes time and you will eventually lose people. Therefore, it should be much more considered in all companies”. As explained by Guy Kerger, every manager should know how to deal with change, not just experts: “activate your strategy, engage your employee, improve your work processes and build a culture that supports your goals”. As explained, change sometimes develops a sense of insecurity for some employees which might result in a loss of confidence, a loss of job satisfaction, decreased commitment, etc. It has also been proved that absenteeism is multiplied by 2.3, and that productivity is drastically reduced. The expert then focused on the opposition between formal and informal systems: strategy, processes and structures vs. relationships, informal rules, values, beliefs, etc. He added: “and when things change, managers often do not consider the informal system, which deals with Humans and their emotions. It is actually the job of every manager: they should know what is happening in it.” MindForest recently launched CHANGEx, which is composed of online quality classes, hundreds of tools and methods, personalized support and the help of a community of users and experts from all over Europe. “Why is it necessary to upskill and learn about change management? So that you do not lose 30% in performance, can properly manage the information, provide a just in time learning experience, build on collective intelligence, and finally, because it’s about people,” concluded Guy Kerger.
Philippe Docquier (Partner, Go Score) then took the stage for a presentation entitled “One team, 3 interconnected and inseparable batteries”. The coach first quoted the first three speakers, underlining aspects such as competencies, states and emotions. “These are the energies/batteries we need to perform. They all relate to nature. The ECO energy, with the sun, wind and water, is linked to Humans and how they shine, generate new and refreshing ideas, and finally, how they can be powerful,” he commented. He then focused on the “EGO energy” and on feelings which impact thoughts, to finally lead to actions. The expert also discussed the “EVO energy” and how the different scenarios are repeated several times to eventually lead to the advent of artificial intelligence. Philippe Docquier then shared several examples of games and how they can help develop soft skills: “games are also composed of three energies: physical, mental and emotions”.
Lydia Haan-Fleurent (Managing Director, Feeling Formation & Coaching) focused on cognitive flexibility. “The current context, with many changes happening can generate a lot of stress. Stress is something that bothers us, a signal. It is usually an external element, which triggers thoughts based on our values and beliefs. Does this make it a stressful situation or not?,” highlighted the certified coach. All participants received a letter with their breakfast box, provided by the coach who asked the audience: “which reaction did it trigger? Did it generate emotions? How intense were they?”. Lydia Haan-Fleurent finally discussed cognitive change: “our reaction is often not adapted to the situation. We need to work on thoughts, rethink our beliefs and judgments. Then, the intensity of the initial emotion will decrease, we will be able to calm down and therefore have a new behavior that is much more adapted”.
“Who is in charge of upskilling?” was the question asked by Cécile Mazourine (Director, People & Organisation Practice, PwC Luxembourg) and Mariann Rackebrandt (Senior Manager, People & Organisation Practice, PwC Luxembourg). They first focused on the challenges faced by clients in terms of upskilling. Mariann Rackebrandt highlighted: “How can I know what skills I will need in 2 years? First, we need to look at the unique situation of each and every organization in order to understand how the business model is evolving, what the strategy of the company is, which transformational trends will impact the company, etc. Tech can help us to analyze these elements: AI helps us break down complexity. It can give a precise picture of the jobs you will need in the future if you invest in specific technologies: if you invest in process automation, you will necessarily need less accountants as their tasks can be automated. On the other hand, you will need more data analysts”. Cécile Mazourine asked: where do I start in the organization when it comes to upskilling? “The good news is only 10-15% of jobs will be disrupted on a yearly basis, meaning that 90% of jobs are stable. Therefore, HR can have a targeted approach and focus on a limited number of employee journeys. Workforce planning vision is critical to start with,” answered the expert. She then explained the need to have a cultural assessment of skills to deeply understand the expertise of employees to really focus on what needs to be acquired. The two PwC experts also focused on the return on investment in terms of upskilling and finally discussed the responsibility of upskilling. “Who’s in charge? The entire ecosystem. First, the individuals need to be willing to upskill. Training is a personal responsibility. HR people and business heads also have to accompany their employees in the process, in fair, transparent and effective ways, for the benefit of the company. Finally, trainers need to make sure they deliver impactful training sessions. Actually, it is a win-win situation,” concluded Cécile Mazourine. Mariann Rackebrandt added: “start small today, with a single department. Get experience. And do it as a regular process. Let’s do upskilling together”.
“Leadership is an action, not a title” was the name of the presentation given by Christina Clark (Founder and CEO, Workculturati). “The pandemic made it even more difficult for employees. But there is a wider leadership crisis: we need to go beyond employee engagement and focus on empowerment, with a trial and error approach,” she started, and quoted Peter Drucker: “leaders grow, they are not made”. The expert then focused on the global leadership crisis in a context of polarized Covid responses and uncertainty, disillusionment with organizational life, etc. “We are also facing a local crisis when it comes to employee engagement which started even before the current health situation. What will be the future of work after the crisis? Meaning and purpose will be key elements to define it,” added the expert. Christina Clark then described the 9 types of leaders, defined by James Ashton, from alphas and fixers to diplomats and Humans. The CEO of Workculturati also shared several examples of such Human leaders (the co-founder of Airbnb, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the new CEO of Citigroup, etc.) who adopted an empathic leadership style. Christina Clark focused on the need to empower teams: “there’s a leader inside every one of us. Management needs to redraw what success looks like: foster psychological safety, embrace failure as data, communicate culture clearly and adapt a service-lead mindset”. The expert finally shared her key takeaways: be a proactive champion for company diversity and drive initiatives, demonstrate a collaborative leadership style, use merit-based decision-making and seek out and listen to employee experiences.
Matthieu Van Roy (Global Head of HR, Talkwalker) finally took the stage to share his best practices, with a presentation entitled “From management to leadership”, or from “Moon to the Star”. After describing the activities of Talkwalker, the HR experts explained that the company was growing: “I joined the company in 2017, and sine 2018, we have grown by more than 100 employees per year, across 11 locations all over the world. We are working in a fast-paced environment with many professional activities. We first had to structure our talent management offer and created a competency framework to achieve these goals. We also created new roles, defined promotions, focused on talent acquisition, performance management and mobility”. Along with his team, he segmented each role and created career paths to help collaborators grow, by picking a path to become either manager or expert. “We were able to identify the main skills per role and create offers to help them achieve these goals. Also, we launched a learning and development center, or LDC, to enable our employees to develop the necessary skills. We are also using the ALPINE methodology: Accessible, Logical, Personal, INtegrated, and Easy to use,” he underlined. Moreover, he focused on the appointment of training ambassadors, who are part of the business and in the field every day: they know what is needed for the different departments. Finally, he discussed the creation of a catalog, divided into five different categories: take off (for all new employees), rocket (focusing on individual contributors and on business skills), moon (for senior individuals and experts, at a more advanced level), sun and star (both focusing on soft skills and develop leadership skills).