Key to development success for hybrid employees? Personalization

Reskilling. Soft skills development. Coaching. The pandemic gave HR an opportunity to help develop employees, but for some, a hybrid or fully remote environment has become the proverbial wrench thrown into the gears.

Ultimately, however, it’s all about supporting the individual, according to Sarah Sheehan, co-founder and president of Bravely, an on-demand platform that connects employees to coaches.

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“When you think of historical development programs, everyone gets the same content,”  Sheehan said Tuesday at the From Day One conference in Washington, D.C. “We’re not the same, we’re uniquely different. It’s important [for HR] to think about who your people are individually and what their goals are and how you can create a development plan specifically for them.”

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For some companies that operate 24/7, such as hotel and resort chain Marriott, it can be difficult for employees, corporate and frontline alike, to get off the floor or be away for a week-long training, said Jayana Garvey, vice president, Global Performance Advisory, at Marriott International.

“We’ll be embarking on a massive tech transformation in our hotels in the coming years,” she said. “We have a strong focus on designing what will that learning strategy be to get folks up to speed more quickly.”

See also: The importance of the people’s role in your digital transformation

The challenge will be delivering content in the flow of employees’ work, she said, “where it may be a little more invisible but built more in their day-to-day flow.”

For example, she compared skills development to the intuitiveness of an iPhone.

“When you take your iPhone out of the box, you know how it works,” she said. “We’re seeing a shift in tech learning, but we’ll see a shift in the soft skills [training] in that regard. It’s more impactful when you can hear and do things daily.”

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Skills development also can’t be a one-and-done event, she said. “We’re going to see more and more of figuring out how to embed it in the day-to-day.”

Future leadership

Some HR leaders are going a step further to strategize bringing soft skills training into their overall leadership development.

“We’ve been trying to move from the term soft skills to just skills/leadership training,” said Merrick Krause, deputy chief human capital officer and director, human capital strategy, at the U.S. General Services Administration. “We teach these skills at the entry-level with the idea they should build on those skills as they move up.”

It’s a challenge for many organizations, Krause said, that when it’s time to move employees into supervisory positions, managers often select technical experts and not necessarily those with the best or most-rounded skillset.

“It’s something we’re trying to build into the career path for mission-critical jobs and hopefully to others,” he said, “this idea of soft skills development being something that follows [an employee] throughout their career arc.”

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Nick Otto
Nick Otto is HRE’s former senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.