AI in Employee Training Can Help with Predicted Post-Pandemic Turnover 

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AI can be incorporated into new ways of learning that tailor to the individual, a far cry from the old days, especially important as employee turnover is predicted to increase dramatically post-pandemic. (Credit: Getty Images) 

By AI Trends Staff 

Dramatic employee turnover is being predicted in the post-pandemic era, at the same time that AI is being incorporated into more learning and development solutions, giving employers an opportunity to establish a competitive differentiation.  

An employee turnover “tsunami” is predicted by results from a survey of 2,000 adults in February conducted by The Work Institute, a research and consulting firm in Franklin, Tenn., according to an account from SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management.  The survey found that half of employees in North America plan to look for a new job in 2021.  

Danny Nelms, President, The Work Institute

“We see absolutely pent-up turnover demand in the U.S. workforce,” stated Danny Nelms, president of The Work Institute, which is focused on employee engagement and retention. Prior to the pandemic, the firm would see about 3.5 million people leaving their jobs monthly. That dropped to 1.9 million in April 2020. The projected number for December is 3.3 million. “So we’re already seeing a substantial return of voluntary turnover,” he stated. “It’s only going to increase.”  

Reasons given for wanting to move to new opportunities included disengagement and burnout, as well as the typical career-oriented contributing factors like wanting a promotion or raise. 

Employees Feeling Less Connected to Their Companies  

Results from a similar recent study were similar. Research commissioned by the Achievers Workforce Institute, the research arm of Achievers, an employee recognition software company in Toronto, found that the top two reasons employees would leave their current job was for better compensation and benefits cited by 35%, and a better work/life balance cited by 25%. The group surveyed 2,000 employed adults in February, finding that 52% were looking for a new job, up from 35% a year earlier.   

Other findings were that 46% of respondents felt less connected to their company since the start of the pandemic, and 42% said the company culture had diminished. Only 21% said they were engaged at work. 

“Through the pandemic, some companies have lost mainstays of employee engagement such as focusing on work/life balance, enacting change following employee feedback, driving recognition and fostering company culture,” stated Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist at Achievers. “As remote work becomes a more permanent fixture of our lives even beyond the pandemic, it’s important that employers are addressing these areas of concern in an effort to increase engagement and reduce turnover.”  

And a third recent study had similar results also. Burnout was cited by a majority of respondents who said they plan to quit their job this year, to a survey of 1,000 workers conducted in November 2020 by Eagle Hill Consulting, a management consultant firm based in Washington, DC.   

Melissa Jezior, President and CEO, Eagle Hill Consulting

“Company leaders are still knee-deep dealing with the pandemic, but they have to look ahead to fend off a talent tsunami,” stated Melissa Jezior, President and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting. “Our poll reveals that 57% of US employees say they are burnt out. Both Millennials and women report higher levels of burnout, as do employees with kids remote learning at home. Leaving is often viewed as the best option for employees to address burnout. And when the economy and labor markets get healthier, some employees may feel they have no other choice.” 

In advice for employers, she recommended:  

Get started on identifying the talent, skills and roles necessary to prosper once the health crisis passes;  

Keep top performers engaged, by finding interesting projects for them;  

Recognize employees; the survey found 74% wanted more recognition for their work;  

Listen to employees, by conducting employees surveys, encouraging open-door exchange and providing career counseling and mentorship opportunities.   

McKinsey Advises on How to Keep Employees Engaged  

Similar suggestions for reskilling the workforce post-pandemic were recently suggested in a report from McKinsey & Co. 

Adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience,” stated Angelika Reich, a McKinsey partner based in Vienna, Austria, one of the report’s authors.  

“Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working—or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era,” the report stated. 

McKinsey recommended these steps to engage in the effort to reskill the workforce: 

Rapidly identify the skills your recovery business model depends on. Specify the exact contributions of these roles to value creation and reimagine how their day-to-day work will change as a result of value shifts. Identify which shifts in activities, behavior, and skills are needed. Specify the quantity and type of people you need. 

Build employee skills critical to your new business model. Start upskilling the critical workforce pools that will drive a disproportionate amount of value in your adjusted business model. The first step is to build a no-regrets skill set—a tool kit that will be useful no matter how an employee’s specific role may evolve. Focus your investments on four kinds of skills: digital, higher cognitive, social and emotional, and adaptability and resilience.  

Launch tailored learning journeys to close critical skill gaps. As companies prepare to reimagine and ramp up their business models, it is important to go deeper on strategic workforce planning. Leaders need a detailed view not only of the core activities that critical groups will begin undertaking in the next 12 to 18 months, but also of which skills each of these groups will need. 

AI Solutions for Learning and Development Have Advantages 

Meanwhile, AI is being applied to new learning and development (L&D) solutions for employee reskilling, creating new opportunities. “L&D experts should explore and implement AI improvements to develop new training strategies and techniques,” stated Roman Zhidkov, CTO, DDI Development, software development consultants headquartered in Ukraine and with US offices in New York City.   

In an account in  IT Chronicles, Zhiodkov outlined several ways AI is transforming L&D solutions:  

Personalizing the learning pathways. Each person has a different style of learning. AI allows training programs to adapt to the needs of each employee.  

Integrating training into the routine workflow. Learning systems built with AI can provide program materials and schedules personally developed for each employee.   

Measuring learning and training effectiveness. AI learning systems collect and analyze data quickly to get insights on learning effectiveness, identifying progress and learning gaps for each learner. AI-equipped learning programs can suggest ways to fulfill the uncovered gaps.   

Read the source articles and information from SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management, from McKinsey & Co. and from IT Chronicles