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  • Writer's pictureTon Bongers

Upskilling 2021, Trend 1

by Shelley Osborne, Author of The Upskilling Imperative

Amidst uncertainty, self-mastery is a valued skill

Strong productivity and mental health skills have long been described as the essential traits of successful leadership. But studies have shown that they are crucial across your entire organization. The World Health Organization (WHO), for instance, reported that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Fortunately, the topic of mental health and its effect on workplace productivity has been more frequently discussed in the last few years. And, based on the demand for these skills in 2020, it's safe to say that employees are adamant about mastering their minds and taking control of their time.

Mental health and wellness skills

What was once considered a taboo topic has become a major area of focus for organizations like Starbucks and Unilever, who prioritized the mental health of their workforce before the pandemic. And based on a 4-digit percentage increase in consumption of anxiety management, stress management, and resilience skills on Udemy for Business, the trend is growing exponentially.

Productivity skills and habits

In May 2019, the WHO officially recognized and defined burnout as an occupational phenomenon. Since then, organizations have made strides to address the causes. But the increased demand for time management, focus, and self-discipline skills show that the workforce is tackling the challenge head on.

What does this mean for your organization?

“Learning and development extends far beyond vertical movement and technical skill development,” says Culture Amp Senior People Scientist Sahra Kaboli-Nejad. “This mindset is a fundamental shift to focusing on the whole employee, rather than simply the technical skills related to their outputs or deliverables.”

Organizations that prioritize the wellness of their people in 2021 will benefit tremendously, too. For every dollar spent on wellness programs, companies can expect their healthcare costs to decrease by approximately $3.27.

But business outcomes aren't the only reason for the increased demand for mental health and productivity skills. Today's workers, who've spent their professional lives dealing with uncertainty, are taking a holistic approach to their careers and consider self-mastery an essential skill.

Workplace well-being is even more imperative today. A study conducted in March and April of 2020 found that the mental health of almost 42% of respondents had declined since the COVID-19 outbreak began. This could explain why mental health skill consumption on Udemy for Business has been growing in industries with essential workforces. Government & Nonprofit workers studied and practiced meditation 40,659% more than they did in 2019. Demand for stress management skills grew 5,408% for the Healthcare industry.

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