The War On Talent: Reimagining The Battleground

Companies can thrive by investing in developing the talent they already have.

We leaders know the war for talent is real—and it’s urgent. In today’s environment, the tides have turned. Just months ago, employees struggled to find jobs; now they can choose from a plethora of opportunities. This is welcome news for workers, but a challenge for us, as leaders, to hire and retain them. According to ManpowerGroup, 69 percent of employers are struggling to fill positions. 

That’s shocking. Only 69 percent? 

Attitudes toward work are changing: for more workers it’s optional, remote, flexible and mobile. And when the worker isn’t changing, the work is—transformed by technology and creating upheaval in the global workforce. On top of that is a widening skills gap that is creating a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion, according to a Deloitte survey. 

As CEOs we are living this challenge. We see it in our teams. We see it in our numbers. We feel it whenever a high performer announces they are leaving. So how can we help our companies thrive in this new order so that we can continue to serve our customers, stay innovative and achieve our strategic objectives? 

To Outpace the Change, Change the Frame

The answer is a skills transformation. We need to change the frame and recognize that this is an internal war, not just an external one. We don’t only have to compete with each other, we have to compete with our employees’ visions of their future selves. Every worker wants that best possible future, and according to PwC, more than half of working Americans are looking elsewhere to find it. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. In the war for talent, companies can thrive by investing in developing the talent they already have. We thrive by creating a culture of learning, where every employee has the opportunity to develop new skills and capabilities and is given the tools to do so. And inevitably, as employees’ skills improve, so does their self-confidence, self-esteem and engagement. It’s also good business. In a world replete with cheap capital, where market dynamics and technology are constantly shifting and reducing barriers to entry, many of us need to shift large populations from the jobs they perform today to the skills we need to compete tomorrow. 

Be the Cultural Role Model

Helping customers create that culture of learning—of continuous learning—is our focus at Skillsoft. As its leader, I face many of the same challenges. To credibly deliver the best learning solutions to our customers, we must not only retain the best talent in the industry, but we must also role model a culture of continuous learning. 

To achieve that goal, I’ve looked for inspiration and ideas from our customers. We’re privileged to serve many of the most world’s most progressive companies when it comes to learning and development. Here’s how the leaders of three key partners have shifted company priorities to cultivate a continuous culture of learning, each with a unique and effective approach. 

• Create Value from DEI 

For one of our global customers who is deeply integrated into local communities, their learning culture is built on a foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Using that deliberate lens, they drive change and engagement by harnessing diverse perspectives: listening to, learning from and reading diverse sources. For them, that intentional journey makes DEI part of the company’s DNA and is boosting engagement with their customers, suppliers and employees, allowing them to better connect with each other and perform optimally. 

Upskill Radically, Even When Costly 

Another customer, a leading provider of digital services, information management and print and imaging solutions, was forced to evolve when the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the decline of office printing. With the roles of 4,000+ print engineers at risk, the organization built custom technical and behavioral training programs. These programs are allowing employees, particularly legacy engineers, to upskill and reskill to take on new technical services roles—giving new career paths to those whose roles were at risk of becoming obsolete. More than half of their engineers are participating, adapting their talents as the company is undergoing its own digital transformation. Said one engineer, “I felt like I was in a deep rut but now I have hope for the future.” Through this dedicated effort, they have not only repositioned to meet the needs of the digital future but have also created a learning culture to maintain that advantage. 

• Prioritize Individuals Over Enterprises 

Another worldwide technology company answers the demands of increasing marketplace complexity and a hybrid work environment with an intensely personal approach. This company looks first at what inspires its employees. They connect skill development to something bigger: a common corporate vision that accommodates each person’s career aspirations. This employee-first learning program is keeping their teams inspired and engaged. 

Time and time again, customers are telling me that they are remaking the battleground by making learning a key corporate strategy. In so doing, they are winning the war for talent, enhancing loyalty and performance, and creating a culture of ever-improving skills where everyone can achieve their fullest potential. By embracing learning and development at all levels—from the front lines to the boardroom—we can all create an environment where everyone wins.