by: Mr. Ivan Steenkamp
The Importance of Digital Skills in the Workplace - Published on 15 April 2020
Digital technology has revolutionized the way we work – but many smaller businesses that lack digital skills are being left behind. These skills can be anything from answering emails to uploading a document to a company’s Google drive – now essential skills in today’s labor market. More needs to be done to ensure the digital skills gap doesn’t become a skills crisis. By creating a digital culture in the workplace – and equipping employees with the right skills – businesses stand to benefit in a number of ways.
Here are some of the reasons to embrace digital skills in the workplace:
1. Digital Skills can increase business productivity
With the right training, employees can use digital technology to become more productive at work. For example, digital documents can be created, stored, and accessed more efficiently than printed versions, but only if employees know how to locate them, use them, and share them confidently. If they struggle with this, it has a knock-on effect on how employee time is used in the workplace – with consequences for business productivity.
2. Digital skills can help to develop a competitive edge
According to Microsoft, in the next two decades, 90% of jobs will require some form of digital skills, and there will be a higher demand for technical skills to give businesses a competitive edge within their market. By investing in the right training for your employees, they are more likely to outperform their peers at rival organizations – helping your business stay ahead of the competition.
3. Digital skills can provide new ways of working
Technological advances will continue to provide new ways of working. Businesses that embrace those changes will reap the benefits of a highly satisfied workforce, keen to collaborate, communicate, or create using new tools that allow them to do their jobs more efficiently. This could include better access to remote working, relevant software, and cloud-based applications or widening the availability of online training.
4. Digital skills can help increase revenue
Most businesses now recognize the need for a strong online presence to help increase revenue. Traditional forms of sales and marketing are becoming outdated as consumers turn towards digital channels to make that final purchase. Most buyers now consume online content like blog articles or short videos to finalize their purchasing decisions. If businesses hope to increase revenue they need to be where their customers are, using a range of digital skills to engage, persuade, and drive demand through their preferred online channels.
5. Digital Skills allow businesses to build customer relationships
Consumers now spend more time on digital channels and there is a high demand for an improved online experience. Businesses need to respond to changing expectations, engaging with their customers, and building relationships through a diverse range of channels – these could include email, social media, mobile apps, and more. It’s vital that employees have the right skills and ‘netiquette’ to ensure the online customer experience is a positive one.
How to Start Developing Skills - Published on 04 May 2020
Skills development is the process of (1) identifying your skill gaps, and (2) developing and honing these skills. It is important because your skills determine your ability to execute your plans with success.
1) Start with the core skills
If you’re starting from ground zero, such as learning programming when you don’t know anything about coding, it can be intimidating as there are a multitude of things to learn. Start with core skills first.
- Core skills are skills you absolutely need to succeed in your goal. They have a direct impact on your success.
- Secondary skills are of lower importance vs. the core skills. While they accentuate your success, your expertise in them do not make or break your goal.
For example, when I started my business, there were many skills I had to pick up. I started with the core skills that I felt would be instrumental to my success: writing, coaching, training, and web marketing. These skills had a make-or-break effect on my goal. On the other hand, Pinterest, Facebook marketing, Twitter, and fancy web design, while helpful, were not instrumental to my success. These were consequently my secondary skills. While I took some time to learn the secondary skills, I dedicated the bulk of my time to mastering my core skills.
What determines a core or secondary skill? It depends on your goal. As long as the skill has a critical impact on your goal, it is considered a core skill. If your goal is to be a life coach with a team of sub-coaches, then life coaching, leadership, team management, and training will be your core skills. If your goal is to be a life coach with an online setup, then life coaching, web marketing, content writing, and good technical skills will be your core skills.
In times when it’s not effective to learn certain skills, I recommend outsourcing instead.
2) Break into little steps
With each skill, break the learning into small steps.
Back when I was learning life coaching, I identified the sub-skills that would make a good coach, including listening skills, questioning skills, empathy, and patience. I subsequently gave myself a rating of 1–10 on each skill and worked on these skills by giving free sessions, taking a coaching workshop, reading books, and most importantly, working with people. I also developed my own coaching guidebook, which is my repository of coaching concepts and frameworks to coach people. I would collect feedback and review my performance after each coaching session, including identifying things that I did and didn’t do well in, so I could improve.