What's holding back HR from upskilling staff?

New report underscores how companies prioritising upskilling create a new shape of work

What's holding back HR from upskilling staff?

HR leaders also have reservations before upskilling employees, according to a new report, as upskilling and reskilling staff face barriers even in 2022.

Mercer's 2022 Global Talent Trends Study has revealed the following factors why HR are reserved before upskilling staff. According to the report, HR:

  • find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change and emerging skill needs (37%)
  • find it difficult to identify employees with the most potential to effectively leverage new skills (36%)
  • are concerned that upskilled employees will leave the company (35%).

One good news pointed out by the report, however, is despite these reservations, HR leaders in Asia are still looking to build skills internally rather than acquiring new talent.

This is a "significant shift" from the approach of HR pre-pandemic, according to the report.

These points come as the study pointed out that "barriers remain" and prevent Asian organisations from reskilling and upskilling their employees, even if it is one of their top people agenda.

The report revealed that one in four employees are not sure which skills they want to focus on, as well as where they want to learn the said new skill for work. These questions add to the lack of time employees struggle with that prevent them from getting reskilled or upskilled.

These problems emerge as 97% of organisations believe that there are "significant skill gaps" in their ranks, even if nearly all or 95% of employees said they already learned a new skill.

According to report, the said problems make it even more crucial than ever for organisations to realise their strategy and meet evolving business needs in the future.

"Employers need to figure out how they can offer more opportunities for employees to pick up new skills and make rewarding skill acquisition more visible throughout the organisation," said Puneet Swani, Career Business Leader, AMEA, Mercer.

Swani said that even if employers experimented more during the pandemic to address the skills gap, they are "still very much in the learning phase."

Read more: How to upskill top-performing employees

'The Rise of the Relatable Organisation'

Mercer's 2022 Global Talent Trends Study, "The Rise of the Relatable Organisation," underscored how winning organisations prioritise reskilling and upskilling while partnering with employees to create the new shape of work.

Among its findings, aside from the barriers on upskilling staff, include how nearly seven in 10 employees across Asia (except for Japan with 51%) say that not being able to work remotely or hybrid permanently is a deal breaker for them when it comes to joining an organisation.

Swani said that employers need to "bridge the gap in expectations and embrace new, flexible work models to cultivate a workforce that can design their own careers."

"Those who find that balance and align their policies to the wants and needs of their employees will not only boost the motivation and engagement of their existing workers, but also will win the best talent," added Swani.

Another key finding is that eight in 10 employees across Asia are also at risk of burnout.

Alarmingly, 95% of employees in Hong Kong are at risk of being burnout this year, while the number of energised employees dropped significantly from 74% in 2019 to 63% this year.

Swani said it is now critical for employers to rethink employee experience and their well-being strategy "more holistically and inclusively."

"Enhancing digital adoption, improving the communication of strategic vision, and addressing organisational complexity will be key."

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