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Boosting Employee Experience With Upskilling; RTO Picks Up Steam

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Image: Prostock-studio - Alamy Stock Photo
Welcome to the latest WorkSpace Connect News Wrap, our regular recap of the news related to the modern workplace, the professionals that make it happen, the products and services that enable it, and the research to inform workplace and workforce strategies. In this edition, we take another look at upskilling programs and how Google and Twitter are approaching their return-to-office (RTO) strategies.
Upskilling Programs: A Partial Answer to the Great Resignation?
Workplaces struggling to find workers are also trying to make sure their employees don’t amplify the problem by leaving. Upskilling programs and providing employees with more educational opportunities are two methods that workplaces are currently trying to ensure that their talent stays in-house.
In a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, authors Susan R. Vroman and Tiffany Danko shared how workplaces turned to upskilling programs as “a short-term survival strategy to fuel or sustain company growth” and how they now need to start thinking about these programs with a long-term mindset. Upskilling benefits both the employees and the employer: employees with more career opportunities have measurably higher engagement and lower retention rates.
“Employees want to understand future career opportunities, and what skills, competencies, and capabilities they need to get there. Companies that can’t help answer some element of these critical questions will lose out on great talent,” Patrice Low, VP of HR at Cengage Group, told HBR.
For a look at upskilling through the lens of a networking professional, we turn to an article from WorkSpace Connect’s sister site, Network Computing. In the article, technology journalist John Edwards laid out how network managers are finding success with upskilling used to ensure employees possess the skills necessary to be successful within the organization and improve overall team morale and loyalty.
Though automation eliminates a lot of routine tasks humans used to do, it also creates emerging skillsets around deploying and managing that technology. Jobs that are likely to be affected by automation are ideal for upskilling programs. While technical upskilling through certificates can be crucial from both a network operation and employee engagement perspective, it’s also important not to forget about the non-technical skills, Dan Kirsch, managing director and co-founder of its advisory and consulting service Techstrong Research, told Network Computing.
"It's not just about improving current skillsets; it's extremely important that employees start to understand different parts of the IT organization as well as the business. Amazing technical skills are always highly valued within an IT organization, but IT leaders need to bridge the gap between technical and business skills,” Kirsch said.
Google, Twitter Head Back in the Office
As we've been tracking on WorkSpace Connect over the last several months, workplaces are once again moving forward with their RTO plans and looking to bring employees back to the office.
For Google, the company announced in an internal memo that it's opening its San Francisco and other U.S. offices by April 4, opting for a hybrid work model that'll see workers in the other three days a week, as the Business Insider reported. Teams will determine which three days they can come in, and employees can be required to come in more if the work requires it, Business Insider added. Additionally, employees can request to work from home permanently, and Google said it approved 85% of the request to transfer to a new location or to work remotely.
Similarly, Twitter announced that it’ll be bringing back business travel immediately and will be reopening the office starting March 15, as The Verge reported. While Twitter is opening its offices, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said employees can choose the style that makes them the most comfortable, reiterating the policy that former CEO Jack Dorsey put in place.
“As we open back up, our approach remains the same. Wherever you feel most productive and creative is where you will work and that includes working from home full-time forever. Office every day? That works too. Some days in office, some days from home? Of course. That’s actually how most of you feel,” Agrawal said.
These are just a few of the companies that have recently announced plans to head back into the office in some capacity. As I wrote in a separate WorkSpace Connect article, companies like Cisco, Meta, Wells Fargo, and others have been readying their RTO plans. In the coming month, we should expect more workplaces to follow suit.