Skills of the future? Think behavior and data

Rethink. Redesign. Transform. These are just a few key words that have emerged from companies when describing the post-pandemic new normal. In this scenario, future skills at work are constantly evolving. HR Directors play an important role in valuing their people’s true potential.

Any form of forward-planning risks becoming obsolete very quickly. Transferable skills, linked to the ability to learn and think, are the only ones that we can plan for. They are truly needed across all sectors, even the most technical ones. But the ability to know which skills will be useful in future can’t solely be a top-down exercise. It’s much more effective to engage collective intelligence, so that people can discover their own attitudes.

To do so, we need to “widen the map”. It’s precisely what Riccarda Zezza, Lifeed CEO, spoke about at the Strategic workforce planning event, organized by HRC. It means understanding that a company’s ‘what’ and ‘how’ may change, making it ever more important to focus on ‘why’ they do what they do.  This is where data comes into play. Aside from behaviors, People Analytics allows us to value our talents’ identity dimensions and characteristics. We need to adjust our line of vision to include these dimensions in relation to life experiences (working on both Big and Small data). In this way, HR can become “map experts”, valuing the true potential of their employees.

HR at the centre of business

On the other hand, “HR teams are no longer just business partners – they’re essentially the business itself” explained Alessandro Agosti, HR Director at Findomestic. “HR accompanies transformations and can decidedly accelerate change by anticipating the need for new skills”.

According to Andrea Bellina, Head of Talent & Organization at Engie, strategy is guided by business. But it’s a close contact with HR that can make strategies a reality through training and upskilling journeys. Many companies are now looking for data management skills to understand the current situation and predict future trends.

Business and HR inputs can find a balance between research into market resources and valuing internal skills. In this sense, “plug-and-play approaches don’t work, it takes time to transfer and develop new skills, even from an intergenerational point of view”, stated Alessandra Rizzi Group HR & Organization Director at BFF Banking Group. “HR management alone won’t be able to anticipate these skills. They need to team up with top management, finding ways to not lose skills and guarantee people’s employability levels throughout this delicate phase”.

Attitude is more important than ever

Time is a key factor. “We need to get ready for when business will change in line with consumer trends”, underlined Silvia Sulpizi, Senior HR manager Global Supply Chain at Baker Hughes. She believes it’s useful to analyze behaviors (not just hard skills) that will be needed in future transitions, allowing us to understand who will be ready to take the next step.

Workforce planning is closely linked to corporate strategy: for Luca Barbera, Head of Planning & Organization Global Power Generation at Enel Group, “we need to understand the main business drivers that will allow us to plan the evolution of internal resources. HR can create value within the corporate strategy, with the aim of being able to foresee the future of work”.

In this context, technical skills don’t go far enough. People also need “the right attitude, a startup mentality and a data-driven approach”. When people focus on behaviors, they can change their working environment and still find new opportunities. It’s why it’s so important to broaden our knowledge, especially in this transition we all find ourselves going through.