Published on November 9, 2023, 7:28 am

Reskilling has become a crucial aspect of organizational growth due to technological advancements like generative AI. The World Economic Forum estimates that 44% of employees will experience skill disruptions in 2023. While many organizations have invested heavily in reskilling infrastructure, such as learning programs and talent technology platforms, they often overlook the importance of changing employee behavior through effective engagement strategies.

In a recent experiment conducted by behavioral scientists from consultancy MoreThanNow and telecommunications company Vodafone, it was found that a direct message about keeping skills relevant in a digital future was more effective in driving people to take action compared to messages about individual progression or company strategy. The experiment involved comparing four different message types aimed at encouraging employees to explore Vodafone’s reskilling program:

1. Individual progression: You’ll invest in your career path and thrive in a digital future.
2. Company strategy: You’ll help transform Vodafone into a technology company for a digital future.
3. Learning enjoyment: You’ll put the joy of learning into your work as you discover new skills every day.
4. Career relevancy and security: You’ll develop skills for the digital future.

The results showed that the fourth message, emphasizing career relevancy and security, had the highest positive impact on attitudes towards reskilling and openness to considering technology-focused roles. Employees who received this message were more likely to explore reskilling opportunities on Vodafone’s internal site.

Based on this study and previous research on human behavior, here are three communication tips for leaders to effectively engage their employees in reskilling efforts amidst disruptive technologies:

1. Set the context: Be transparent about how emerging technologies may impact employees’ careers while reassuring them about proactive measures like upskilling and reskilling.
2. Make it relevant: Use personal examples to highlight the impact of new technologies on specific work areas, helping employees identify necessary skills and create an actionable plan.
3. Make it real: Offer training programs as essential for future success rather than optional benefits, guiding employees towards the best career options your company provides.

Vodafone’s successful reskilling program implementation serves as an example for leaders. By changing their language from focusing on individual progression to emphasizing career relevancy and security, Vodafone engaged thousands of employees and successfully reskilled them for different roles within the company. The total learning hours completed by Vodafone employees has surpassed one million.

Leaders should learn from Vodafone’s approach and adopt a more open and direct communication style when discussing reskilling with their employees. The success of both organizations and employees in navigating the digital future relies on these proactive efforts.


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