Boosting Capability Development In 2021

Prioritizing employee Learning and Development has never been more important than today, not only on a professional level but also in terms of personal development, mental health and wellbeing, and the overall progression of one’s career and path. Albeit forced on to us by the global pandemic, digital learning continues to gain more and more traction across global organizations to address the skills shortages, bridge widening skills gaps, and redesign capability development to meet the learning needs of the new normal.

The World Economic Forum suggests that the world is in a skills limbo as over one billion roles and jobs have been disrupted and transformed due to advancements in technology. However, the pandemic merely reiterated the already brewing doubts over job security and the ardent necessity for reskilling and upskilling on a large scale. Today, the need, as well as the expectation, is clear as day: both employees and leaders must adopt continuous learning to stay relevant and competitive.

Learning Mindsets To Overcome Upskilling Challenges

According to Gartner, 70% of employees state they don’t possess the skills required to do their jobs effectively. While skill-readiness is a key factor to consider while identifying if and how employees keep up with changing skill needs, L&D and HR leaders must play a big part in fostering skill-readiness right from the onset going into 2021.

However, in spite of the stark warnings, employees still struggle to adopt continuous learning as a must-have, while organizations are unable to meet their skills quota. And, one of the major causes for this to keep happening is that employees and leaders are not trained in the “skill of learning.”

Identifying learning itself as a key skill, L&D and HR can structure their programs in such a way that drives immediate as well as long-term outcomes, not just for the organization but also for individuals. And, this is where the learning mindset comes in. While L&D and HR can provide top-class training programs, it is up to the learners to foster a mindset of continuous learning to reap the benefits.

A change in learning mindsets can be brought about by directly connecting employees to market needs, hiring a new candidate by assessing skill levels, identifying upskilling areas, and at the same time integrating employees’ personal goals with those of the organization.

Also touted as intentional learners by McKinsey & Co., employees that excel at developing new skills as a passion on the job tend to be more successful in unlocking their potential and bring improved value to their organization.

It has become increasingly clear that to survive and compete in today’s constantly evolving business environment, organizations must approach capability development with urgency from a business point of view and not as something that might or could eventually result in business impact.

Moreover, organizations seeking growth and improved performance in the new normal will have to focus on developing not only digital capabilities but also human capabilities. Digital transformation across the globe has assigned newer value to capability development, one that reflects the human side of communication, wellbeing, leadership, and improved relationships. Behavioral skills will be key to achieving this synergy where skills like empathy, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, etc., leveraged by employees at different competency levels will lend the desired value and sustain the human side in the digital world.

Here are few ways to develop employees’ capabilities in 2021:

  • Redesign capability development to leverage personalized learning, just-in-time learning, relevant content, and outcome-based learning
  • Merge capability development with business strategy to led increased focus on Training Needs Analysis and must-have future skills and capabilities at all levels
  • Foster positive behavioral shifts by providing training on human capabilities, including creativity, innovation, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and more
  • Revisit HIPOs and leadership development pipelines to meet the learning demands of the millennial workforce


As we continue to navigate the pandemic and post-pandemic world and ready ourselves for whatever could be the next normal, unlocking learning mindsets and building human capabilities will remain a top priority to maximize performance and productivity with greater odds of success.

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