Economics/Business

What are digital skills/importance/how to develop/digital competencies

Digital competences are related to a professional’s skills in using technological tools and in how to behave and relate in a virtual and professional environment.

Currently, for the performance of many functions, it seems quite natural to expect professionals to have an affinity for digital. But that’s a very abstract expectation, if put that way, don’t you think?

The market demands different levels of digital skills. For both workers and HR, it is important to know what these competencies are, how they can be developed and what their true importance is.

What are digital skills

Digital skills are the set of skills a person has to deal with devices, systems and other virtual solutions . This includes not only knowing how to give a command, but also knowing how to behave in this environment.

To understand even better, consider that competence is something that considers not only technical skills, but also behavioral skills – the so-called soft skills .

This reasoning already indicates that we are talking about something that can be something that a company has to worry about since the recruitment and selection process. 

Despite this, we emphasize that training can be applied so that such competences are developed.

Another important point is that the level of digital competence varies from one professional to another and from one role to another . 

Not all positions in a company need people with advanced levels of understanding of digital processes, for example.

The importance of digital skills

From the point of view of professionals, there is a simple statement that helps to understand what digital skills are for: without them, it is increasingly difficult to find good job opportunities .

The sequence of this reasoning leads us to understand that the challenge remains when the objective is to grow in the career. Without digital skills, this might be far less likely.

In this regard, it is worth remembering that we are not just talking about a technical understanding of the basic use of technology. 

The digital environment has its own culture and form of communication; and knowing this is also important for professionals.

From the point of view of HR and organizations, we can say that digital skills serve to enable them to compete at a good level in the market .

Next, we take a closer look at the importance of these skills and their digital processes. Check out:

Optimize resource usage

Time is one of the most valuable assets we have. In the professional environment, having time can make a difference to meet or exceed goals, without losing quality and preserving mental health.

It seems difficult? With the use of the right solutions and digital skills suited to the needs of each role, workers now have the resources they need to achieve this goal.

New digital routines are established, optimizing different processes so that projects or products are delivered on time, respecting factors such as budget, quality and others that have been defined.

improve productivity

Talking about time also leads us to talk about productivity at work. Companies always want more productive employees, but they need to create conditions for this.

From hiring professionals with the right profile to carrying out digital training, it is possible to define and rely on the right skills to improve efficiency and individual and team productivity levels.

Let’s take a simple example: if a team has several informal channels to communicate, sometimes talking via email or WhatsApp, eventually someone can get lost.

Simply choosing a platform to centralize this communication, such as Trello or Slack ― accompanied by the development of skills to use it correctly ― eliminates this risk and makes the team dynamics more fluid and adjusted.

Increase innovation capacity

If the use of technological tools favors work dynamics, it has everything to make room for the company’s minds to act more creatively.

Why? Because instead of spending all their time performing tasks, they can count on the optimization that the right technologies provide to broaden the focus of their attention.

Of course, to be more innovative, a company also needs to create a culture that allows its employees to present ideas and contributions without reprisals.

The use of digital skills contributes to greater flexibility and the ability to respond to unforeseen circumstances or new challenges .

Improve brand positioning

Digital skills can also be part of the company’s HR and marketing. Together and on parallel fronts, the areas can use their skills to improve the management of the company’s digital identity .

The expected consequence is that this improvement favors the positioning of the organization’s brand in its market and in society as a whole. Something that, among other benefits, contributes to attracting and retaining talent.

How to develop digital skills

As connected as the global society may be, digital skills are not innate and, in many cases, were not part of the learning process of many professionals.

Those who grew up or were born in a world that is increasingly full of technological tools tend to have it easier, but that’s not even the rule.

Thus, making a brief complement to the explanation of what digital skills are, we can say that they are skills that can be acquired, including with guidance from employers .

Conduct training

Designing training and development programs is something that is part of HR’s role. This is very helpful for employees to learn new digital skills.

For the program to work, it is necessary to assess the skill level of individuals and teams. Some have basic, intermediate or advanced skills.

What’s more, it’s important to consider the need for each role or team . All they need to know is learn how to use a time tracking app? Focus on it!

Are there teams that need more advanced skills than others? Consider making this separation to optimize both training and engagement and learning.

Part of the technological tools used on a daily basis are simpler, as are their rules of conduct and related soft skills . 

Thus, it is possible for HR to find its own resources to create the development program.

When needed, however, it makes perfect sense to look for someone who is able to guide and even teach this more advanced program.

Adopt corporate education actions

Corporate education is the adoption of teaching and learning practices aimed at the continuous development of employees so that the company can count on increasingly well-prepared professionals.

At first glance, it looks the same as training, but the concepts differ. Training focuses on the short term, while corporate education focuses on the medium and long term . We have examples to clarify this issue.

A new hire who has never used Trello, for example, may need simple training to get to know the tool and know how to deal with it on a daily basis.

It’s something punctual and, depending on your professional future, this knowledge may or may not continue to be useful.

When we talk about cybersecurity, education actions favor the development of important digital skills for the use of tools, systems and the internet as a whole.

This is knowledge that evolves and, for that, requires recurrent learning actions. In addition, it results in the gain of skills that will remain useful regardless of any role changes the employee experiences.

Encouraging autonomous learning

Companies have long valued proactive professionals. As much as learning new digital skills can rely on the organization’s actions, it is interesting that workers seek to evolve on their own as well .

This does not mean giving them autonomy to use digital equipment and tools as they see fit. In fact, this could be a cybersecurity risk.

However, it is beneficial for the organizational culture to favor levels of autonomy that allow employees to seek solutions without needing constant help. 

Among the digital skills sought today are the ability to analyze, question and find answers.

Making this a reality depends on factors that go through HR and leadership, since it is necessary to establish a scenario in which leaders are more inspiring than necessary.

The role of HR in the development of these competencies

Based on everything we’ve covered so far, you already have a good idea of ​​how HR engages with the issue of digital skills. However, there is more to be said in this regard.

Recruitment and selection

The role of HR has a starting point prior to defining training or decisions about corporate education.

The industry needs to investigate what level of digital skills the current workforce is and what level the company needs to achieve.

This is not a homogeneous thing and, as we said, it is possible to do analysis based on the needs of each function or team.

In any case, while investing in development is important, HR needs to establish what is the minimum to think about competencies from the recruitment and selection process .

You should already know how thoughtful you need to be in defining a new job opening, its description, and what follows from there. It is not without reason that it is advisable to design an ideal candidate profile.

The digital competencies expected for the satisfactory fulfillment of each role must be considered for this design, as well as in a competency interview .

day to day of the company

Thinking about who is already or becomes part of the company’s staff, it is always good to remember that technology evolves constantly.

So, even if HR establishes higher levels of digital skills to assess from recruitment, it is likely that professionals will need to keep learning.

This takes us back to training, corporate education and the culture of learning; and to something that has not yet been said. The measurement of the results of these processes, as well as any adjustments, is necessary.

HR needs, along with leaders, to be aware of what changes as technology and the company itself evolves. 

From one period to the next, a training or educational action may need to be updated .

The effectiveness of programs designed by HR ― or contracted by the company ― also needs to be measured to verify and guarantee the return on the investment made.

Senior management and culture

In practice, not everything that is up to HR depends (only) on HR . All these decisions to carry out training and have a culture that encourages learning depend, above all, on the top management of the organization.

This has to do with releasing the necessary budget and also authorizing changes that tend to mess with the entire dynamics of the company.

Do you remember that we mentioned that learning autonomy requires less dependence on leaders? The creation of this scenario requires the approval of senior management and the engagement of leaders day after day.

The main digital competencies of the current market

To know what to look out for for recruitment and selection and for digital training, as well as what to present to senior management, your HR needs to know the most important competencies today.

Therefore, we have listed the main digital competencies in the market . Check it out below!

Cybersecurity notions

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in 72% of companies, according to research data developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit at the request of Microsoft.

If even before the massive and almost compulsory migration to the home office , security in the digital environment was already important for organizations, now this has intensified.

The expectation is that the more adept at using digital tools, the more companies understand that they need to protect themselves in this environment. However, this evolution is gradual and can leave a company vulnerable to attacks.

Therefore, it is crucial that professionals know basic cybersecurity rules so as not to inadvertently attract risks to the organization.

A basic example is clicking on unknown links, sent by fake emails so sophisticated they appear to be real; the infamous phishing that can be a way to steal sensitive data.

versatile communication

It’s not today that HR specialists know that the ability to communicate is welcome for professionals. In fact, this is often a point that is often observed in selection processes.

When we talk about digital skills, we go further. We talk about the ability to communicate through different means, including using digital tools .

Having this competence means:

  • being able to adapt to the communication channel defined by the team or the company;
  • maintain a professional and ethical attitude in these environments;
  • know how to establish professional relationships in digital media.

Note that all this can be learned through clear guidelines, training and follow-up aimed at harmonizing the work environment, whether in face-to-face or virtual interaction.

Important! This competence is even more fundamental for professionals who occupy or have the possibility of occupying management and team leadership positions.

exponential learning

The interest in learning, including autonomously and proactively, is an interesting digital competence that is anchored in the opportunities that technology itself presents.

Through different digital platforms, a professional can seek contacts and content that help them acquire new knowledge .

There are good videos on YouTube that give tips on specific areas and other general ones, such as ways to improve your own productivity, for example.

On networks like LinkedIn and Instagram, it is possible to find experts who share relevant content and are even willing to have a conversation to exchange ideas and guidance.

Being interested in and knowing how to take advantage of these opportunities is a point in favor of professionals in this digital age.

Analytical ability

The ability to analyze has always been welcome, especially on the part of companies that like more proactive and creative professionals in the search for solutions and opportunities.

It turns out that, with the growing adoption of technologies based on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the data colleague intensifies every day. You must have heard about Big Data , right?

Admittedly, data analysis isn’t necessary for every job and function, but whenever it’s useful, this skill is very valuable. 

It counts for the ability to collect data with real application to the business and for its interpretation .

Network team leadership

Finding good leaders is often a challenge that drives many HRs to active recruitment or HR hunting . Before you do something like this from now on, remember digital skills once again.

A good leader needs to have a good understanding of the tools and, above all, communication in a virtual environment. 

It is your role to facilitate the use of these tools and ensure that the dynamics between the team works well on digital as well .

Furthermore, the professional in a leadership position must know how to use technological resources to manage processes and projects efficiently.

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