Josh Bersin on building the hybrid workforce of the future (now)

HR and learning professionals need to help employees prepare for hybrid jobs

HR and learning professionals need to help employees prepare for hybrid jobs, and there are a number of steps they can take to help develop employee skill-sets, writes Josh Bersin

Millions of jobs will be created, radically changed, or even eliminated by technology and the accompanying business change over the next decade. Yet the most profound trend in today’s labor market is how technology is mutating jobs into new, unexpected hybrid jobs, according to Burning Glass Technologies, a company that analyses nearly a billion job postings and employee resumes a year.

Hybrid jobs combine skill sets, traditionally viewed as dissimilar, into single job roles. Think marketing jobs that require data analysis or programming jobs incorporating design skills. According to Burning Glass research (The Hybrid Job Economy: How New Skills Are Rewriting the DNA of the Job Market, 2019), jobs that are highly hybridised are not only the fastest growing and highest paying jobs in the market, but they’re also the most resistant to automation.  The skills that drive hybridisation fall into five key skill areas: big data and analytics; emerging digital technologies, sales and customer service, compliance, and design and development.

Following are examples of job hybridisation:

  • In marketing and public relations, jobs now commonly require analytics and digital skills, along with creative capability. Marketing, digital marketing, and advertising managers now must have capabilities that span these areas.
  • Jobs in computer science and machine learning require proficiency in writing, problem-solving, creative, research, and teamwork, along with technical expertise.
  • Highly analytic jobs, like a financial analyst or scientist, now require skills in visual communications, creative thinking, and consulting.

Marrying skill-sets
While the competencies required for hybrid jobs aren’t necessarily new, what is new is the marriage of skill sets. Typically, these skills are taught in very vertical ways. People learn them as though they exist separately from other disciplines. To prepare for hybrid roles, people need to think outside of program boundaries.

“We must make sure continuous learning is built into the flow of work and easily available to employees”

The Burning Glass report notes that hybrid jobs are typically not entry-level roles.  They are available mainly to workers who have some years of experience. This means that in many cases businesses will likely have greater efficiency in training up existing workers than in hiring new employees to fill hybrid roles.

Hybridisation really isn’t new. Most jobs have evolved over time as various types of automation and technologies have been introduced. Employees who don’t move up the “value curve” can fall behind.

What’s different this time, however, is the pace of change and skill combinations we see. Who would have guessed that the most valuable marketing managers know SQL? Who would have expected engineers to understand the ethics and design aspects of their coding?

Continuous, lifelong learning
I think the importance of lifelong learning is the biggest finding of the study. Primarily, these are skills learned through years of experience and self-development. It is our job as HR and learning professionals to help prepare our employees for these hybrid roles. How we do it can widely vary.  Online learning, in-house skills academies, outside educational offerings, mentoring, or apprenticeships are all ways to expand employee skill sets.

In a recent study I conducted with LinkedIn, we found that of the 2,400 professionals surveyed, the primary reason employees would consider leaving their job is the inability to learn and grow. We must make sure continuous learning is built into the flow of work and easily available to employees. Such learning also must be encouraged at all levels.

Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate Renaissance Man, was highly esteemed for his broad knowledge of many fields. Today, we and our employees all have to become more da Vinci-like in our careers.  It’s the secret of success in the digital world ahead.

Image source: Depositphotos