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Mercer’s 2021 Future Skills Survey data reinforced a familiar narrative of disruptions businesses recently experienced and the anticipated changes they foresee. The data, compiled from nearly 200 companies across various industry sectors, highlights the importance of talent management at the skills level.
Traditionally, most organizations manage a workforce at the job level. For most of the 20th century, job descriptions and titles defined how we thought about work, set salaries, and made critical talent and workforce transformation decisions.
Recently, companies have reimagined the unit of work as jobs have become more interdependent, knowledge-focused, specialized, and flexible about where, when, and how we work. As a result, the base unit of work has fundamentally evolved from jobs to skills.
According to the Future Skills survey data, the skills that scored highest in the survey for overall importance fall in the personality traits and collaborative skill categories. They are likely to be a particular focus for businesses as we continue to advance post pandemic. However, these skills are also difficult to recruit and develop.
The data is entirely consistent with the narrative that upskilling and reskilling will be critical for businesses in the future. Interestingly, companies reported low confidence in their ability to meet short- to medium-term needs for skills related to people development.
Skills related to technological fluency and innovation are also expected to be essential to businesses over the next 3 years. Following the top 4 skills above, the next 4 skills all fall in the Tech & Innovation category:
Even though companies have been experiencing seismic shakeups recently, the long-term digital transformation continues to advance. Data is the backbone for business decisions and to get the correct data at the right time, you need these skills intermixed throughout the company.
All skills, by definition, hold some level of value but are considered less valuable in this current environment. The 3 individual skills identified as being least important in the next 3 years were:
Perhaps the widespread adoption of flexible work has made internal politicking and networking less prevalent in the workspace. Or, maybe sales and transdisciplinary thinking skills are assumed to be baked into roles and therefore stand out less.
Regardless of the reason, companies indicated they are particularly confident about being able to meet their needs for skills related to self-management, internal political influence/networking, and sales.
Organizations that cannot connect skills to work are at risk of being outpaced by those that can more rapidly deploy mission-critical talent. HR is the central hub for skills consulting in the organization and for developing skills programs that are timely, relevant, and agile enough to support the organization’s strategy through skills assessment, talent development, and employee reskilling.
Mercer is poised and ready to help you transition from jobs to skills. To learn more about products in this space, check out the Mercer Skills-Edge Suite or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-286-5302 today!