March 16, 2018

The Roundup: Learning priorities for 2018, Stephen Hawking’s work wisdom, and more diversity support

In this week's Roundup, learning soft skills are a focus for employers and employees alike, according to a new report from LinkedIn. And, Stephen Hawking believes work gives people purpose, while there’s more evidence that diverse workforces are good for business.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Managing Editor, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

Robots don’t have soft skills: LinkedIn report

LinkedIn released its 2018 Workplace Learning Trends Report this week, with optimistic news for those concerned that the workforce will be replaced by automation and robots.

According to the survey of 4,000 professionals globally – including talent developers, managers, employees and executives – the top priority is training the workforce for soft skills. As noted in the report, “robots don’t have soft skills.”

These so-called soft skills include things like leadership, communication and collaboration, with slightly less emphasis on role-specific skills. This indicates that employers are putting a greater focus on addressing expectations of the modern workforce, and adjusting their approaches to stay competitive. They are putting a greater focus on on-going, continuous upskilling and training to prevent skills gaps internally.

Managers, take note: the survey found that manager involvement is key to increasing employee engagement with learning. In fact, 56% of employees said they would take a manager-suggested course.

Related: Social learning at work: what it is, and how to do it

Stephen Hawking’s wisdom on the value of work

Legendary scientist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking died Wednesday at the age of 76. Known for his work on black holes, relativity and the origins of the universe, Hawking has also been called an inspiration by millions of people.

In 2010, Hawking shared three pieces of advice he passed on to his children in an interview with Diane Sawyer. One, noted by the BBC, was related to work.

“Never give up on work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.”

The BBC cites the American Psychological Association’s recent synthesis of findings that back up the idea that feeling a sense of purpose and meaning with work has positive effects on people. One finding is that “Employees who know their work has a meaningful, positive impact on others are not only happier, they’re also more productive” (Grant, 2016).

Additional research discovered that “no matter the size of the goal … having a sense of meaning and feeling a sense of progress can contribute to happiness in the workplace” – that is, small wins fuel motivation and drive innovation as much as bigger ones.

The BBC concludes that people who focus in on what they love allows their work take on greater meaning and purpose than simply clocking in and paying bills. A takeaway for employers? Creating a culture that helps connect employees to purpose, and encourages their personal and professional development is a key step in the process.

More evidence that a diverse workforce is good for business

London-based INvolve, an organization that fosters more inclusive cultures, recently shared a study with Quartz that found “a significant positive correlation between diversity and financial performance” of companies.

The study, commissioned by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), looked at data on 517 U.K. firms and analyzed the relationship between their financial performance, workforce composition and company policies.

Additional key findings: the most diverse workplaces are 12% more likely to outperform their industry average than the least diverse workplaces. And, the firms with the most developed diversity policy are 15% more likely to financially outperform their national industry mean than those with the weakest diversity policies in place.

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